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Divorce:
“What are some dating rules for divorced parents?”

Dear Annie,

I am a divorced mom of a 7th grade girl and an 8th grade boy. I have been divorced for 10 years and have not dated much. Can you help me with some of the questions I am running into like:

  • Do I tell them I am dating?
  • When do I tell them??
  • How much do I tell them about the man I am dating??
  • When is it appropriate to introduce them??

Celeste

Dear Celeste,

You've been single for most of your kids' lives. It's not likely they've got fantasies that you and your ex will get back together. That should make your transition into dating easier for them. Your kids are old enough to understand that you are entitled to have friends of the opposite sex. (They're in middle school so they know what's it's like to want that.) Be open and honest with them about when you're going out. Let them know where you're going, how to reach you, and when you'll be back. Keep your agreements to be home at a certain time (You don't want your kids worrying about you!).

As for introducing your dates to your children, until a relationship gets to the "steady and exclusive" stage, it isn't necessary to introduce the man to your kids. If and until you get to that stage, then you should probably meet a date away from your home. (I'd also suggest that you not bring anyone home with you to spend the night when your kids are there.)

Bottom line: Your allegiance to you son and your daughter must be your top priority. Their emotional security is paramount. You don't want them to feel like they're "losing" you. You also don't want to set up expectations for your kids that they're going to have a "new dad" if that's not even remotely being considered. So, keep your social life separate from family until you're feeling certain enough about the permanence of the relationship with the man to introduce him to your kids.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,

Annie

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