When you decided to divorce, you may have realized that it was only a matter of time before you and your ex started dating other people. However, children often hold out hope and even the most improbable scenarios that their parents will reconcile.
It can be very difficult for children to adjust to their parents pursuing new romantic relationships, and those relationships can also be a source of personal danger. How can you and your ex protect your children from the stress of parental dating as you negotiate custody Arrangements in your upcoming divorce?
Address the issue now
While neither of you may currently admit to having a new romantic partner, in a few months or a few years, at least one of you will likely start a new relationship. The two of you can realistically address that possibility now to prevent conflicts from arising later because of your emotional reactions.
For example, you might impose a specific rule about how long either of you should wait before introducing your child to a new partner. Requiring that the parents meet together with the new love interest before the children meet this person is a common rule.
For those worried that their ex will leave the children in the care of a stranger, there are ways to prevent a new girlfriend or boyfriend from being the go-to babysitter. You could add the right of first refusal to your parenting plan.
Anytime that your ex would not be the one taking care of your children during their parenting time, they would need to notify you first before arranging for outside care. Such terms can protect the children from the mistreatment or neglect they may experience from a romantic partner who resents the children.
Try to keep your reactions to yourself
Especially if the person your ex starts dating is someone that they cheated on you with or dated before your marriage, the new relationship may feel like a real betrayal. However strongly you may feel about the situation, it is almost always best to keep your emotional reactions away from your children.
They should only hear positive things about their other parent. When they are adults, they will eventually have a more realistic perspective on your family circumstances. For the time being, shielding them from the messiness is the best way to mitigate the damage it could cause.
Thinking ahead to what dating will mean for your shared custody arrangements can help you take some of the stress out of that upcoming challenge.