I recently got this question from a reader:
My counselor asked if my ex and I, who have been divorced for about 8 months, had discussed how we would handle dating with the kids. That’s a conversation I couldn’t even imagine having! How would you even open the discussion?
Since I have not dated yet, it’s not a topic I’ve broached with my ex and he hasn’t raised it with me, which doesn’t mean he’s not dating, of course, but the kids have never mentioned dad having a girlfriend, so I’m assuming he’s not. Anyway, my initial reaction was that what you do dating is not any of your ex’s business but I quickly scrubbed that as I thought about your kids meeting your dates.
I think having a dialogue with your ex around dating is a valid and legitimate discussion to set out expectations/guidelines for how your dating might affect the children. I would imagine the topic is covered in some parenting agreement – it’s not in mine. I suggested to the reader that he could come up with a “dating manifesto” to share with his ex. I see it as a commitment to both his children and his ex, as a co-parent. It might include commitments such as
- not to include a date in your parenting time until the relationship is serious
- to notify your ex when you are in a serious relationship
- no “overnight guests” during your parenting time
What do you think? Did you have a conversation about dating with your ex? How did your ex respond? Is it reasonable to expect your ex to agree to the same principles? What guidelines did you set yourself for dating and your children? Does the age of your children make a difference?
Then maybe a bigger question, if you’re a parent of teens, what do you do to model good dating practices for your teen?
Looking forward to reading your comments …