10 Utterly Essential Tips for Moms on Dating After Divorce

Inspiring 12

It's no secret that I'm slowly making my way through divorce and out to the other side again, which means one thing: everyone expects that I suddenly want to jump back into the dating pool.

They're wrong.

But it's gotten me thinking about dating. Specifically, what dating with kids will look like (should I ever decide to navigate those murky waters) and how one goes about it.

I've poked around and come up with some tips on dating after a divorce with children (I plan to use these myself when I'm ready!).

1) Most experts agree that introducing your children to a new partner should only happen once a romantic relationship is becoming serious. You don't want your kids to become attached to your flavor of the week only to have them experience the loss of someone they liked.

2) Above all else, you should be honest with your partner about your children. If your partner doesn't like or accept that you're a parent, it's a clear sign that you shouldn't be with him.

3) Be honest with your children about your new love. Kids can smell BS a mile away, which means you must do your best to make sure you can openly and frankly talk to them about your relationship.

4) Tell your children that no matter what, you're never going to abandon them in favor of your partner. Dating with kids isn't an either/or situation - make sure they know this.

5) Be enthusiastic about your significant other when discussing him with your children - let them know this person makes you very happy. Kids want their parents to be happy. Usually.

6) Talk about what you'll all do together when you introduce each other. Plan a fun outing, be your true self, and make sure the activity is one that will make all your children happy.

7) Accept that your kids may be slow to warm up to your new partner. If that's the case, don't push the relationship on them too quickly.

8) Reassure your children that your new significant other is NOT intended to replace your ex -- ever. This way, they don't feel as though they're put in the middle, having their loyalty to each parent tested.

9) Accept that many kids hold out hope for a long time that their parents will get back together. When you've moved on to a new partner, the finality of your divorce becomes more real to your children, which may bring out feelings of jealousy, anger, and fear in them.

10) Discuss your new significant other's role in your kids' lives with them so they don't think you're trying to push a surrogate parent on them.

Do you have any other advice for single parents looking to date?


Image via leadfoot/Flickr

dating, dating mom, divorce


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Venae Venae

Yes - don't.  Your kids have already lost one parent - your time w/them is divided because they have to go to dad's for visitation - so the time you DO have w/them is precious - don't take more of it away from them because you're out w/some dude.  Wait until they are at least 17 years old and they don't want to spend time w/you - then date.  Sorry, but they do come first.  

Need sex?  Buy a vibrator - you won't catch AIDS - or give your kids a new half-sibling.

jkp-buff jkp-buff

Seriously? Don't date? That's the worst possible advice I've ever heard. What's wrong with half-siblings? My older brother is a half-sibling. Are you saying I shouldn't exist - that my mom should have waited until he was grown and thus had no more children? My brother has a daughter from his first marriage and two sons from his second marriage. My neice was ecstatic to get half-siblings.

Parenthood is not an obligation to martyr yourself for your children and then brag about how much you sacrificed for them. Normal adult life includes relationships with other adults, friendships and romances. If you're married, you don't put the marriage on hold for 17 years until the kids are old enough not to spend time with you. Likewise, when you're divorced, you don't put your personal life on hold for 17 years either. If you do, you're modeling extremely disfunctional behavior for your kids to copy when they're adults.

Waiting until a relationship is more serious before introducing them to the kids - good advice. Not dating at all and denying your own need for human companionship - bad advice.


I love #4, it is SO important.  I was 2 years old when my Mom started dating, and the way she de-prioritized us to second place behind her love interests was devastating.  I've had alot of abandonment/anxiety issues to work out because of it.  A mothers love and attention is vital to normal development.  Feeling "abandoned" by a mother, even more so than a father, can destroy a child's self esteem, and I am living proof of that.

Whatever you do, don't ever, EVER let your child think that this new strange person is a priority over them. 

ImaSo... ImaSoulMom

Very true. Right now my children are my priority. There is no rush to date again. If I decide to they will only meet someone I am serious about. Not worried about it. Que sera sera and all that. :)

Jessy76 Jessy76

I love all these rules. I would also add that moms and dads should listen to their children when it comes to their new partners. Kids actually have amazing instincts when it comes to people and sometimes the excitement of dating someone new can cloud your own judgement. I will admit that sometimes kids are just trying to keep the parent to themselves but most of the time if they don't like someone it's their gut screaming something is wrong and acting out is their only way of expressing it especially if they are young. As rule #5 says kids want parents to be happy.

Taralyn Miller

@Venae, that is absolutely terrible advice.  I have sole custody of my children and they are with me 100% of the time.  Im only in my late 20s.  I shouldnt be able to date or have a life for the next 15 years or until my children are in their late teens?  My boyfriend is more of a father to my kids than their biolofical parent will ever be.   


@Jessy, I totally agree. My mom was infatuated with several men throughout my early years, and we all know how idiotic people can act when they're in that stage. My mom left us several times, only to come back when she was dumped. Each time she left was so painful, my sister and I would latch onto her legs, crying for her to stay, and she didn't. I'd like to point out that my mom is NOT a horrible person, she was just in that intoxicated/lack of judgement phase of infatuation, and she did some things she still regrets now, 30 years later. Unfortunately for my sister and I, the damage is done.

Jessy76 Jessy76

@ MENSAmamma my experience as a kid was the same that is exactly why I feel that way. Both of my parents were like that. I now no longer speak to my bio dad because of his wife of almost 30 yrs now. While my relationship with my mom grew to be great over the last 15 yrs, during my childhood it was very strained and I honestly didn't feel like I had parents at all threw most of my childhood.


@Jessy, I'm sorry to hear about your relationship with your dad, I know how that goes too.

Aunt Becky- here's another VERY important one to add to your list:  Be aware of the possibility and risk of sexual abuse.  The first man my mother dated when I was young was a well-known local business man.  He was also sexually abusing his own daughter at the time.  He spent the night at our house a couple of nights while my dad was out of town, and some things happen that lead us to believe he woke my sister up in the middle of the night.  My sister was only 4 (I was 2), and she has no memory at all of it.  My sister does now show, however, all of the signs of sexual abuse.  After they broke up, he showed up at our summer camp one day and tried to "pick us up."  Thank God our teacher didn't let us go with him, even though he was confidently saying my mom had sent him.  Who knows what would have happened if we had gotten in that car with him. CONT"D



The first man my mother married said inappropriate things to me for years. I never said anything (I have no idea why), and he was also a very well-respected business man. No one would EVER have suspected it.

I guess what I'm saying is... you never know. Don't ever let a person you're dating be around your children ALONE (sleeping in the other room counts) until you know them very, very well. Talk to your kids about what sexual abuse is (I guess every parent should do that anyway.)

I know some people have wonderful step-parent relationships, I don't mean to make it sound so awful. I just got the worst of it, so you can never be too safe.

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