Next to your parents actually getting a divorce, the hardest thing you might face is when they start dating other people. It’s weird to see your father with someone other than your mother or your mother with anyone other than your father. And, it’s natural for you to not want your parents to date other people. Sometimes, it’s hard to get past the “weird factor” and accept this new phase of your parents’ lives. Hopefully your mom or dad has given you, and themselves, enough time to adjust to the divorce before they start dating. If not, have a conversation with them about how their dating makes you feel, and try to come up with some agreed guidelines for their dating. They are still your parent, but it’s important that they know how you feel about the situation too.
Part of the reason so many kids have trouble adjusting to their parents dating after divorce is because they still hold out hope that their parents will get back together. Although this doesn’t happen very often, and it is very unlikely that your parents will actually get back together, many children of divorce continue to cling to a sliver of hope that their parents might reunite. When parents start to see other people, even that small sliver of hope is dashed and that makes it hard for kids to accept.
Some kids don’t like the idea of their parents dating after a divorce because they are afraid that their parent will find someone they want to spend more time with and stop spending as much time with them. Maybe you are concerned that if your parents start dating they won’t be home at night or they’ll miss your dance recital or baseball game. Maybe you’re concerned that they won’t be home for dinner or to help you with your homework. If this is your concern, sit down and talk to your parents. Sometimes just talking about your concerns will help you to feel better, and it will let your parents know that this is something that concerns you.
Another thing that makes it hard for some kids to accept their parents dating is because they feel like they are being disloyal to the other parent when they like the person their parent is dating. If your father has a new girlfriend, you might feel like you are rejecting your mother if you accept her and try to get along with her. The fact is that no one can, or will, ever replace either of your parents. You may end up with “extra” adults in your life, but your mom will always be your mom and your dad will always be your dad. That doesn’t mean that you can’t accept the new people and their role in your life as well.
In the end, you really can’t keep your parents from dating after a divorce. They are grown ups, and chances are that – eventually – they will start dating again. The best thing you can do it to share your concerns with your parents. Sit down and let them know how you are feeling. If you have trouble talking face to face with them, write them a letter or send them an e-mail. The last thing you want to do is to keep those feelings bottled up inside, and unless you share them with your parents they might not even know that something is bothering you. It may be a hard conversation to have, but in the long run it will help both of you.