When single parents begin dating, there is more than just the date to plan; the children are affected and their reactions and attitudes can make dating an enjoyable time or miserable one.
Children don't always understand the needs and passions of their single parent, and where some accept it quite readily, others become troubled. Here are a few ways that single parent dating affects children.
1. They suffer resentment. Some children, especially those who were solidly founded in their family as a single unit, find it necessary to blame one of the parents for the family break-up. This is not a matter of simple anger, but it's the only psychological way that they can deal with the situation because they are not able to understand why the parents are separated.
When one of the parents decides to begin dating again, the unreleased anger in these children will rise up in the form of resentment towards that parent and towards their date. It's not a personal issue against the actual date but rather, a resentment towards the fact that in their mind you and your spouse should not be separated, and therefore, you should not be seeing someone else.
2. They suffer depression. Some children are so deeply hurt from the separation or loss of one parent that they cannot accept the other parent's need to date. They don't fully understand the reasoning and so they are saddened by the fact that their one parent is no longer part of their family.
They hurt greatly over their loss, and the single parent dating simply reiterates the fact that their other parent is not with them or part of their family unit any more.
3. They are happy. Some children are able to accept that their single parent is dating and they are happy to see their parent happy.
If the child is old enough to understand why the parents are separated, and if they feel totally free of blame for the separation, he or she will be able to express their joy towards the single parent dating. They will have confidence in their close relationship with both parents where no animosity reigns, or they'll have a mature understanding with acceptance of the situation.
4. They will encourage it. Some families need to have two parents living under the same roof to feel accepted and safe in this world. When they see that their single parent is dating, they get excited because it means that they'll have a full family again.
5. They won't care. Sometimes when families fall apart the children lose all respect and hope for the family unit. When the one single parent begins to date again it will have little affect on the child because in their minds, what they had as a family is over and that's the end of it. The rest of their life is surviving the odds of it happening to them.
6. They are influenced. When the single parent decides to begin dating, some children observe carefully to see what they do. Since parents have the greatest influence over their children, and since family break-ups are becoming more common all the time, many children will grow up expecting it to happen to them.
Therefore, it is crucial that the dating single parent use wisdom and discretion when dating. Some children can become abusive in their own marital relationships because of what they learned from their parents being careless and disrespectful when they were dating. Others will know that regardless of why their parents separated, their parent that began dating again did so with respect and compassion towards their date and to their family.
7. They are relieved. Sometimes the single parent is left grieving after their marriage breaks up or they lose their loved one. The children hurt constantly for this parent and are relieved when they see them dating again in search of love and happiness. And they are freed from grief themselves when their single parent finds their new mate.
As a single parent dating again, you need to watch, understand and deal appropriately with your children during this time. As needful as it is for you to get your life back on track, it is equally needful for you to help your children accept it.