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Dating After Divorce
Q: I've been divorced for over a year and I don't know if it's okay to tell my kids that I'm dating. Right now, I only date when my kids are spending the weekend with their father. Still, I feel awkward if a man phones my house when the kids are home. They exaggerate the situation and tell their father I have a boyfriend. What should I do?
A: If you've been divorced for over a year, I don't think you need to hide the fact that you are dating from your kids. You aren't doing anything wrong by dating other men. I would hope that you and your ex could both explain the dating to your kids in a manner that honored each other and assured your kids that neither of you is attempting to replace their mother or father. As long as they feel secure in the love of their parents, the negative comments they make about either of you dating shouldn't worry you.
Don't give your children the power to prevent you from developing relationships with other men. It's natural to for them to be a little possessive of you and to instantly dislike your dates. They may still secretly be clinging to the hope that you and your ex might get back together and that you will all be a family again. If that's so, you and their dad should explain to them that this isn't a possibility. Dating after a divorce is not easy for a parent or for the kids, but keeping the dating secret is unhealthy for all concerned.
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.