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How Do Kids Feel About Divorced Parents Beginning Dating?

by Amy Morin

Children experience a wide range of emotions when divorced parents begin dating. The emotions a child feels depend on a number of factors, such as the child's age, the circumstances surrounding the divorce, and the child's grief process. Provide your child with opportunities to talk about his feelings regarding the divorce, and help him cope with the emotions that may be stirred up when you begin dating.

Confused About the Situation

Many children experience confusion when a parent begins to date. Some children aren't sure how to feel about a parent's new romantic interest. They may dislike anyone that a parent dates as a way to maintain loyalty toward the other parent. Other children may feel surprised by a parent's attempts at dating. Older children may even feel embarrassed by a parent's involvement in a romantic relationship, according to MissouriFamilies.org, while younger children may feel confused by the courtship process.

Jealousy Toward Your Date

It's common for children to experience jealousy when a parent begins dating. Children between the ages of 5 and 10 may be especially possessive of a mother who begins dating, according to MissouriFamilies.org. A child may be upset that a date is taking up a parent's time and attention. Sometimes children experience a sense of abandonment when a parent begins dating. They may feel jealous about sharing a parent's love and affection with a new person.

Anger That You're Moving On

When a parent re-enters the dating world, it can reinforce to a child that his parents aren't getting back together. Despite the finality of divorce, many children continue to hold out hope that their parents will reunite. However, when a parent begins dating a new person, it dashes those hopes and often leads to feelings of anger. Children tend to feel more upset when their fathers begin dating, according to MissouriFamilies.org. Other children may feel angry about the loss of privacy that occurs when a parent's new love interest begins attending family activities and spending time in the home.

Anxiety About a New Parent

Anxiety is a common emotion for children when their parents begin dating. Sometimes children worry that a parent will try to replace their other biological parent with a new person. Other children worry that they won't be liked by the people their parents date, according to Stop Child Abuse Now of Northern Virginia. Children often experience many changes when parents divorce, and they may worry that a parent's re-entry into the dating world may signal more changes in the future, such as having to move to a new home.

About the Author

Amy Morin has been writing about parenting, relationships, health and lifestyle issues since 2009. Her work appears in many print and online publications, including Mom.me and Global Post. Morin works as a clinical therapist and a college psychology instructor. Morin received her Master of Social Work from the University of New England.

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