Relationships & Love
When Parents Resume Dating - and What Their Children Have to Say
When our children were young, it seems like everything that we parents did was “right” – at least in their eyes. We were the omnipotent heroes, the sageS, the wisest among the wise. We had all of the answers before the questions were even asked. We fixed the impossible and solved the improbable.
It was a lovely season of life.
Lovely though it was, reality inevitably invades (usually around the time that a driver’s license enters this halcyon picture). With that reality comes our children’s startling realization that parents are also actually – gasp — human beings. Although an amusing statement on its face, this can also be a difficult realization, particularly if and when a parent chooses to resume dating after a divorce or spousal loss. Many (if not most) children tend to see their parents as… well…parents. That’s fine of course, but what they may occasionally lose sight of is that parents are people too.
So how does a parent date, enjoy companionship and even fall in love again, all while enduring the scrutiny (and opinions) of their growing and/or grown children?
Before we bring in the kids, let’s first talk about you. Whether you are just thinking about the resumption of dating, or you have already reentered the World of Dating, you may feel overwhelmingly guilty; almost as though you’re “cheating” on your previous spouse/partner. These “cheating twinges” are a form of emotional self-punishment; to which none of us are immune. Let us first get one thing very clear. Regardless of how your previous marriage/relationship ended, the resumption of dating is absolutely, 100% perfectly normal. You are not cheating. You are not casting aspersions upon a previous life with a previous person or dishonoring any memories. You are simply moving forward into a new life (since after spousal loss of any kind, the life with which we are presented is indeed new).
I also want to remind you that loving another does not in any way diminish the love that you have for a late spouse or disparage the life that you led with an ex-spouse. It is important to recognize that the heart has an infinite capacity to love. There are no “love quotas” or limits on love and you are entitled to a life that includes companionship, love, laughter, and happiness. Just as you are learning this very important lesson, you must in turn be prepared to share this lesson with your children as well.
Now, let’s invite the children in.
I seriously doubt that my late husband had a bigger fan on the planet than our daughter Kendall. Whether he was driving a police car, sitting on top of a horse or confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak (the results of his battle with ALS), Daddy was her idol. No one stood taller in her eyes and to this very day (and in her own words), he remains her hero…and he always will.