One of the challenges that solo parents face when they launch back into the dating game is how to manage their kids and dating. For single parents, the dating process is much more complicated as there are so many other people in the mix that you need to consider. And it becomes particularly complex if your children tell you they don't like the new person you're dating.
So what do you do if this happens?
Well, it's firstly important to identify why they're not warming to your new partner.
Research has found that 50% of kids with separated parents have a 'reconciliation fantasy' that can last for up to 10 years after the divorce (Phil Watts, 2008). That means that for up to a decade, there's a high chance that your kids desperately want and hope for you and your ex to get back together.
So when you start seeing a new person - your kids are naturally going to really struggle with this. And it's not going away anytime soon.
If you're in a situation whereby your kids don't seem to be warming to your new partner, slow things down and consider these 10 behaviours which you may need to alter:
- Public displays of affection with your new partner in front of the kids
- Sleep overs with your new partner when the kids are in the house
- Spending too much of your time with your new partner rather than the kids
- Deferring to your new partner for parenting advice
- Changing your kids' routines to fit in with the new partner
- Going away on holidays with the new partner and the kids
- Siding with your new partner over the kids
- Forcing the kids to spend time with them
- Not putting aside time to discuss this with the kids
- Not validating your kids' feelings and thoughts
If you can avoid these pitfalls, then you'll slow down the pace of your new relationship and it will give your kids a chance to come to terms with the huge change going on in their lives.
It's not about forcing them to accept your new partner, but rather giving them time to adjust and make meaning of what's going on around them.
They need to come first in all of this and it's going to take time. Be patient.
John Aiken, RSVP dating and relationship expert, as seen on the hit show Married At First Sight, and on Ch 9’s Today show, Today Extra and A Current Affair. He is a best-selling author, regularly appears on radio and in magazines, runs a private practice in Sydney, and is a sought after speaker. (www.johnaiken.com.au)