7 Dating Considerations for Divorced Parents

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By Dr. Diana Weiss-Wisdom for Divorce Magazine

Here are seven considerations, qualities and things to look for in someone who is going to be a stepparent to your kids.

Looking for a new mate as a divorced person with children is tricky — especially if your children are important to you, which hopefully they are. Why is it tricky? Because it takes time and experience before you can know if someone is mate-worthy. At the same time, it’s not recommended to introduce your new friend to your kids until you think the relationship is serious enough to warrant that.

It’s also important for your kids and your new prospective partner to like each other or feel some inkling of rapport. If they have bad chemistry right from the start, it makes everything harder when it comes to creating a successful stepfamily.

If you introduce a new person too early, you run the risk of your kids having to meet multiple dates — which could feel weird for your kids. If you introduce too late and you are thoroughly smitten to the point of being invested, and the vibe is bad with the kids (in either direction), it will be tempting to minimize the potential problems brewing.

So, you see, it can be tricky.

Kids don’t choose divorce: their parents do. Although some of you may not feel that you’ve chosen your situation, you must admit that you chose and created it more than your children did. Most of the time, kids don’t choose to have a stepparent. If you choose wisely, however, they may be grateful to you in the future for doing so.

Getting separated or divorced is generally a sad, destabilizing time for most people. Finding yourself alone and not being used to it, or longing for the intimacy that was lacking in your marriage, can tempt you into settling into a new relationship prematurely. When you have children, it’s very important to take your time and thoughtfully choose your next partner.

Some people recommend writing a list of all the things that you’re looking for in a mate, which is a good idea. But don’t stop there: after you write a list of the qualities that you want in your next partner, write a list of the qualities that this ideal person would be looking for in their next partner. And then, cultivate those qualities in yourself.

Here are seven qualities and things to look for in someone who is going to be a stepparent to your kids:

  1. They understand that by marrying you, they are also making a lifelong commitment to be kind and supportive with your children — as much as the relationship will allow.
  2. They have a cooperative and collaborative attitude toward your ex and kids. For example, it’s best if there is sensitivity with the kids around not speaking badly of their other parent in front of them.
  3. They focus on developing their own positive, independent relationship with your children.
  4. They are willing to take a backseat to you as disciplinarian. They accept that while you will collaborate behind the scenes, as the biological parent, you will be making the final decisions.
  5. They understand and accept that it will be a challenging road at times. Along this road, the children are likely to experience conflicting loyalties and be slow, if ever, to warm up to your new partner.
  6. They are committed to personal growth and to working on the marriage — even when the going gets tough. The last thing your kids need is to go through another divorce.
  7. They have plenty of room and desire in their heart to love you and your children.

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More from Divorce Magazine:

Advice from Stepkids

New Partners, Stepparents, and Remarriage

Dating and the Single Parent

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