Parents dating during divorce
When it works out, the kids benefit from having more adults in their lives.
But what happens, as so often does, when the relationship breaks down?
Most of the evidence suggests doing otherwise, especially if the child is over the age of 6.
There’s no firm rules here, and a lot will depend on the reasons for the original family breakdown, and if there have been other stepparents in the child’s life.
The problem, of course, is what to do after the relationship breaks up?
While most parents tend to cut off ties with their former lovers, it’s seldom that simple for the kids.
As far as entering new romantic relationships when you’re a parent, there seem to be two competing ideas about how to handle telling the kids.
As I mentioned earlier, custodial parents often want the stepparent to be a real parent with responsibilities for the kids.
Telling kids about a new romantic partner doesn’t guarantee that kids aren’t going to be resentful either. Like Hadfield, I’d be inclined to suggest that despite the risks, parents shouldn’t talk with their kids about every date they go on.
Being dumped with a babysitter rather than snuggling up to watch Friday night movies with mom can make kids blame the new love interest for robbing them of their parent’s attention. Online dating has made it easier to meet people, but that doesn’t mean kids should be subjected to the instability that an active dating life brings with it.
Hadfield figures that no matter how difficult it can seem, it is likely better for kids to still have contact with their parents’ romantic partners even after the romance ends.
Of course, this all depends on the strength of the relationship, the age of the child, and dozens of other factors.
For example, Hadfield found that custodial parents wanted their new partners to take on a parenting role with their children, as well as being the parent's romantic partner.