As most people who leave marriages do so with children, this factor is something you should put careful thought into before you begin moving back out into the world as a single. Regardless of whether your children are male or female, youngsters or teenagers, it is very rare to find any child who is neutral on the subject of a newly-single parent’s dating and other socializing. Depending on such factors as the child’s own personality, his relationship or attachment to the other parent, and his own sense of stability and security, it is most likely that he will have either of two very strong responses to this subject: he will either be steadfastly opposed to your beginning to date, or he will see it as an opportunity to “assist” you in finding and acquiring a new partner. As neither of these possibilities is pleasant, it is important to determine where your child is at on the subject, and how to proceed in a positive manner.
The most difficult point to get across to your child is that your new socializing and dating experiences are something you need to do for yourself. Whether your child is the type who is putting up a lot of resistance to this new phase of your life, or whether he is prodding you in a not-too-subtle manner to gain a new partner, it should be made clear that this aspect of your life is something of your own. It is not only putting your child in an unfair position, but sabotaging your ability to be successful in this transition, if his input plays a role in whether or not you should be doing this, or which people you should associate with. Perhaps the best way of looking at this subject is to consider it in similar terms as your job: it is something you need to do, and it does not include your children.
In preparing to begin dating after a divorce, the main area in which you should take your children into consideration is in ensuring that they are receiving enough of your time and attention. While dating is an important part of your newly-single life, it is equally important that you not neglect your children while doing so. They need to know that you still care about them, they need to know that you are still interested in their lives; and for your new experiences to be beneficial to all concerned in the long-run, you must learn to achieve a sense of balance between your home and family life and your social life.
Granting your children plenty of your time and attention is the first part; making it clear that your social life is separate from them is the second part. Allowing your children to socialize with your casual dates is a recipe for disaster, and it is never a good idea for either them or you. Depending on which side of the dating issue your children are standing, they will either try to scare off dates whom they do not like or form attachments and relationships with those whom they’d like to see as your new partner. It is unfair to have your children in such a role, and it is counterproductive to your dating experiences as a new single.