I have been divorced for more than a year and have started dating again, but my son isn't handling it well. He seems to dislike anyone I go out with. Is there a way to make this easier on him?
As frustrating as this can be, your son's behavior is quite natural. He may be upset for any number of complex reasons. If he's just gotten used to you and his father not being married, he might now fear that a stepparent will further complicate things and take up your time. There's also the issue of territory — it's his house, you're his mom, this date is not his dad. These feelings may be scary and overwhelming for him.
Talk with your son about how your dating makes him feel. Try to understand the aspects that upset him, which can help you find ways to make the experience easier on him. If he's worried that dating will cut into your time together, for example, then you might create some special one-on-one time with him. If he's really put off by the idea of you dating a man other than his father, explain that you're making new friends, just like he does when he's in a new situation.
Try to maintain your usual routines with your son so that your dating doesn't disrupt his day-to-day life and he still has lots of time with you. It's not necessary for him to meet every person you go on a date with — this may be overwhelming and confusing. Wait until you know if a relationship has serious potential before introducing your child.
Be patient — it's likely to take some time for your son to adjust. Many kids hope their parents will get back together, but, ultimately, most want their parents to be happy. Talking with a counselor or other divorced parents who are dating may help.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: November 2009
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