By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC

We all know divorce creates havoc in any family’s life, especially when children are involved – even adult children. Moving on after divorce can also be challenging. It’s a time to be very gentle, both with yourself as well as with your children.

Chances are, you made a considerable emotional investment in your marriage. Having seen that relationship fail can make you insecure about facing new relationships ahead. So take the time to go within. Learn from your mistakes — we’ve all made them. Understand the lessons from your marriage. Determine new ways to approach future relationships.

At some point you will feel ready to step back out into the dating world again. Then you face the challenge of breaking the news to your children. Tweens, teens and grown children usually present special challenges. So prepare with that in mind.

Be Sensitive and Empathic!

Of course the age of your children will play a big part in how to talk to them about your starting to date. Teens have their own judgments. Grown adults come with their prejudices as well. The rapport you have with them and closeness within your own relationship will also play a part in this difficult conversation.

Remember, all children are smarter than you think. They can pick up on your emotions and when you’re telling untruths. It’s best to be honest about your feelings regarding bringing another potential partner into your life. But be very sensitive about their emotions on this topic.

Let your children know you’re healing, feeling better about yourself and are now ready to explore meeting new friends. Remind them how much you love them, how important they are in your life. Explain sincerely that dating has nothing to do with replacing them – or bashing their other parent. Remind them that you will still be the attentive parent you’ve always been. Emphasize that they always come first in your life. But clarify that you do have a life of your own and are ready to live it!

You may need to have this conversation many times over several weeks or months. Some children need extra time to digest the concept and express how they feel about what you are saying. Encourage them to ask questions and share their opinions. Be patient and understanding of their perspective, even if you don’t agree with it. Remind them that you deserve a fulfilling future just as they do.

Be Selective in Choosing Partners!

Don’t introduce your children, even teens and adult children, to every new person you date. You can let them know that you are going out with new people, if they ask. But don’t bring casual relationship partners into their world. This can create more headaches than it’s worth.

When you do find a person you are seriously involved with, prepare the children in advance for the first meetings. Spend short intervals together and let the exposure build over time. Ask for their feedback. Discuss their feelings. Watch how your partner behaves with them. Make sure your teens or older children never feel threatened by the thought they are losing their Mom or Dad to a stranger.

How you approach adding a new partner into your life will affect their long-term relationship with your children. So be careful, considerate and empathic in all your actions. Needless to say, be sure you choose a partner who treats your children well. If they don’t, that should be a big red flag! Be alert to signs that either your new partner or your children are feeling competitive for your attention. That can be extremely damaging to all relationships and must be addressed early on. Seek the help of a coach or therapist to find a path to inclusion and peaceful acceptance. Or choose to move on to another relationship. Your children should never lose you to another partner.

Be Respectful of your Child’s Other Parent!

Children who have close relationships with both biological parents are more likely to accept a new parent partner into their lives without distress. They feel safe in their relationship with Mom and Dad. Therefore, they are less likely to be threatened by someone new in the picture. When one parent disrespects and disparages the other parent, it puts the children on the defensive. That makes them much more likely to reject a new relationship partner entering the family dynamic.

So take your time when transitioning into dating after divorce. Move slowly when opening the door to new relationships that will affect your children. Put yourself in their place. It will give you insight into what it can be like to find one or both parents with a new partner. Talking with a therapist or co-parenting coach can be quite helpful as you transition into this next phase of your life.

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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach and Director of the Child-Centered Divorce Network.  Her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting, free articles, Coaching services and other valuable resources for parents are all available at Rosalind’s advice on dating after divorce can be found at: and

©All Rights Reserved  Rosalind Sedacca