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Dating and Divorce

First, let me say that I don’t believe there is one rule that fits every divorced person’s circumstance. There are a million and one variables that all need to be taken into consideration. All I can share with you is my own personal take and experience.

I had waited on writing about dating for several reasons. One of the big ones is that I had tended to go against the grain in terms of my take on dating while divorced. So I thought I’d wait until the time was right where I could judge whether or not my thinking worked or not. For me personally, it worked. After five years of divorce I have gotten married for a second time and couldn’t be happier or more optimistic. So what’s my take on dating and how does it differ from conventional thinking?

I’ve heard the rule, “wait six months before you introduce your kids to someone you’re dating.” I’ve heard the reasons as well. But here’s the thing; I disagree with many of them and here’s why.

  • Conventional Rule: “You should know you’re in love and ready to marry someone before you introduce them to your kids.” Sorry, but this is, in my humble opinion, so off base and backwards. Assuming we’re talking about younger children, the person you’re going to marry and their relationship with your kids is as, if not more important than the relationship between the two of you. How you all mesh and interact as a family is going to be crucial to the success of your relationship. If you feel this relationship has some legs, to me a next logical step is to see if your kids like the person as well.You don’t have to profess that this is the person you’re going to marry. For me, finding out that a woman is nurturing and can handle the temperament of young children is a big deal. For them to see me as a parent is equally important. To have fallen in love only to learn that the kids didn’t like her or that she was abrasive with my kids would have been devastating. So how soon is too soon? In my instance I first let the kids know that I’d met someone I liked about four weeks in and introduced them in a very simple manner after about six weeks. They were then the ones who encouraged me to keep going. In short they were very much aware and a part of the process.
  • Conventional Rule: “You need to protect young minds and hearts.” Yes, absolutely, this is very true. And you as the parent will know what your child is capable of handling. But here’s a reality; children will deal with loss their entire lives. Friends will move, loved ones will pass, it’s part of life. I’m not suggesting you introduce them to a new potential spouse every month. I’m saying, I think there are benefits to letting them meet someone earlier on in the relationship once you recognize there may be something there. As mentioned, you don’t have to say, “Hey kids meet your new mommy!” Keep it simple and just introduce them to a new friend. They’re not stupid. Kids are remarkably intuitive and will offer you some insights even you didn’t think of. And if it doesn’t work out, you’ll be there to help them through it and they’ll be there to help you as well.
  • “You need to protect young minds and hearts Part II.” – Personally I think we can overprotect our children sometimes. I tend to be very open and honest with my kids. I don’t hide much. So the very idea of keeping that kind of a secret from them for six months; sorry, just couldn’t fathom it. And believe me, they’re not dumb. They know what’s going on. And I personally believe they’ll feel a bit of resentment knowing you kept it from them and didn’t include them.

Bottom line: dating is a part of life that each of your children will encounter. You will be there giving advice the entire time and they’ll likely ignore most of it. Here’s an opportunity for you to provide them with a lesson in real time. I believe these are amazing teaching opportunities. For your children to be able to watch you navigate dating and eventually / hopefully developing a new relationship and to experience the good and the bad with you is an amazing gift.

It was actually my daughters who set me up on Match after about six months of divorce. So they were interested in seeing me date. They even tried to set me up a few times. Throughout the five years between my divorce and 2nd marriage, my children asked me all kinds of questions about dating and the discussions we had were invaluable.

I never took dating lightly. I was never into one night stands or just dating to be in a relationship. I only dated a couple of women seriously before meeting my current wife. And the kids new about a good number of them. They saw me go through the process and learned from each one through open and honest communication. Through it, they learned that there’s more to a relationship than just attraction and getting along.  And together we found a perfect match for all of us. I personally wouldn’t have handled a single instance differently.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2016 in dating, Exercise, Uncategorized

 

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Too Young To Date?

Sing it with me, “She is 13 going on 29.” Honestly, you couldn’t pay me enough money to be an eleven-year-old in today’s society. The peer expectations and influences are mind blowing. The idea of dating has actually come up in our households. It’s also coming up in our daughter’s friends households and I’m sure there are different opinions in every home if not more than one. Couple that with the fact that our kids are inundated with messages on television and on-line that are down right scary; and you’ve got quite a challenge. As parents it can be difficult to stick to your guns on the topic. So I started putting some thoughts on paper and came up with 10 tips that may (or may not) help.

1. You know as well as anyone that our kids are great at making it sound like everyone else’s parents are “OK with it.” Well, trust me, they’re not. Just call and ask them. They’re likely in the same boat as you are. A goodyes relationship with your kid’s friends’ parents is golden. Support each other as much as you can. Or if nothing else, let them know the rules in YOUR house so that they’re aware because I guarantee you your daughter’s friend has said “Her dad said it’s OK.”

2. It’s OK to make your ten-year-old delete their “Vine” and “SnapChat” apps. I’m sorry, but they’re not appropriate for a nine or eleven-year-old. I don’t care who else has them. Some of the videos and images shared on these platforms are down right offensive. And I can’t think of any reason a ten-year-old would need to ensure an image is gone after a few minutes. Why go there?

3. I’m a firm believer that every kid, as much as they argue and battle, like knowing that you’re all up in their “stuff” when it comes to their personal lives. That doesn’t mean you have to be hateful about it. Just a part of it. They want to know you care enough to stick your nose in their business. I also believe whole hardily that they need and “want” us to help them say no, because on their own they feel pressured and overwhelmed. Knowing they can use us as an excuse to say no is not a bad thing. Again, that doesn’t mean you have to be mean or a jerk about it. Just subtly let them know you’re watching and involved.

4. Trust your gut, but be open to giving a little. It’s important for your eleven-year-old to learn how to interact with the opposite sex appropriately. If we can encourage boy/girl friendships and give them opportunities to learn to respect and appreciate each other as more than just the opposite sex at an early age I think it’s a win / win. Because in a couple of years their bodies and hormones are going to take over and they’re not going to be thinking straight.

5. Now more than ever you need to put aside your differences and work out a mutually agreed upon plan of
action with your ex in terms of how you’re going to approach dating and your pre-teen. If your kid knows their mom and dad are unified and that both are going to be communicating and sharing, it’s a huge coup. the-delicates-too-young-to-date-londonConversely, if they feel left to themselves to figure it out or learn that they can play mom and dad against each other, I can’t imagine it working out well.

6. It’s going to mean giving up your free time and off-nights, but be open to being there as a parental chaperone for group get togethers perhaps even along with your ex. It’ll drive your daughter crazy but as a dad (and mom), this is a great compromise; “Sure, you can go as a group to the movie, as long as I’m there too.” And if you go, don’t make a big deal about it or be an ass. Just be there.

7. Listen. Just listen. Don’t wait until it’s a big discussion or argument. Make a point of opening the floor to your kids at an early age over tea before bedtime, or at the dinner table. And just listen. You’ll be surprised at what they’re willing to share once they get rolling.

8. Don’t be ignorant. Don’t believe for a second that if you ignore it it’ll go away. Your kids are being exposed to things we didn’t see until we were much older. And I’m sorry, but you can’t protect them from what their friends are sharing and talking about. Don’t think for a second that just because you’re not talking about it that they’re not aware of it. And if you stick your heals (and head) in the sand and wait until they’re sixteen to talk about it, brother you’re going to be in for a big surprise.

9. Educate yourself. Do your best to keep up with the latest apps and what kids are talking about. Your kids find things on-line. So can you. Learn what’s influencing them. Don’t just send them off into the world without fully understanding to the best of your ability what they (and you) are up against.

10. Baby steps work best. So start now. Don’t wait until she (or he) is fifteen.

Remember, the underlying tone here is, this shouldn’t be about sex. This should be about learning how to be social on expanded fronts. That said, as a dad I don’t think it’s a bad thing to start talking to your daughter about how stupid boys get when they’re thirteen and around girls and why they get stupid. Give your daughter some perspective and teach her that she too should have as much control over a situation as anyone. It’s good to be trusting, but in some situations having your guard up isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And please, PLEASE, teach your sons to respect girls. Don’t let them be stupid or ignorant just because they’re boys. That’s not an excuse. Educate them. It’s your job. Above all, don’t be stupid yourself believing that your boys and girls are perfect angels. Because they’re not. No matter how smart or good they are, they’re still going to be dealing with hormones, peer pressure and ignorance. Don’t be afraid to be the adult. And remember, every kid has a different capacity for understanding. You should know best what your child can handle.

This is a touchy subject I know. And everyone has their own opinions of what’s appropriate at what ages. But I think the more open we can be about it and the more we can stand up as parents and guide our children appropriately starting at an early age, the more chance we have of getting our kids into adulthood with an appreciation for each other. Lord knows the internet can at times send the wrong messages. We need to be there to help them decipher those messages and understand self control, boundaries and rules can be a good thing.

Good luck! We’re rootin’ for you!

 

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