Unfortunately, broken families are not uncommon in our society. And even more unfortunately, living in a broken family typically makes life seem even harder.
However, it’s also an opportunity to grow and deepen in your relationships with those around you, and with God.
If you’re a single Christian parent who is looking to start dating again, you will be faced with several dilemmas, including when to start dating, what to tell your children, and how to introduce them to the new person you’re seeing. The answers to these questions will be different for everyone, but they are important to answer before you embark on this new journey.
Here are a few things to think about as you attempt to answer these questions for yourself!
How Soon Should I Start Dating After a Divorce?
Again, this question can only be answered by you! If it’s only been a few months since you split from your spouse, but you feel ready to meet new people, then go ahead. However, you should start slow and make the process as easy as possible.
Consider attending a Bible study for singles at your church. There will be less pressure, and you will have a guaranteed topic of conversation. On the other hand, if you’ve been divorced or widowed for several years and still can’t fathom the idea of dating again, then don’t pressure yourself to try it.
As a rule, wait until your divorce is finalized to start dating again. Also, make sure any anger, hurt, or frustration surrounding your breakup has dissipated. You want to make sure you have fully healed so that any new relationship you start won’t be negatively impacted by your last one.
Lastly, talk to your kids about the fact that you would like to start dating again before you actually start dating again. This way they’ll be better prepared when you finally meet someone you connect with on a romantic level.
What Should I Tell My Kids?
Your children need to hear directly from you that you’re thinking about dating again. This is your chance to share your hopes and dreams for yourself, and for your kids! Let them share their hopes and dreams as well. If they seem hesitant about the idea of you dating, give them a chance to express why. Through talking about it, they may even realize that they’re actually more comfortable with the idea of you dating than they first thought.
If you’re not sure what to say, just be open and honest. Your kids will appreciate your candor. Also, ask God in prayer to fill you with encouragement and trust that He will provide you with the right words when you’re ready for the conversation.
Remember, this is a conversation where your children need to be heard, but ultimately, you will make the final decision on dating, and they should know that as well.
Also, be aware of your intentions. Ask yourself if your behavior is aligned with Christ’s words and directions for His followers. If the answer is yes, then you can feel good about getting ready to date again. If your motivations are not pure (like dating someone new to make your ex jealous), then you should take a step back and wait until your intentions are honest and integral.
When Should I Introduce My Kids to My Date?
This one will take some time. Most children are going to feel a little resentful when their parent begins dating again. A mother and father are so much a part of God’s unique plan that you can be sure that the child will harbor (perhaps for many years) a secret wish for their parents to reunite.
As difficult as it may be, you must be careful to always honor the bond a child has with his or her natural parent. Even if the parent is deceased or absent, this bond should be tenderly nurtured.
If you’re going to introduce your children to your new matches early on, make sure you don’t force a relationship between your kids and your new love interest. Let them get to know each other naturally. Find fun activities to share together like taking in a baseball game, picnicking in the park or even seeing a new movie. This will take the pressure off everyone if the conversation does not flow naturally at first.
If you feel more comfortable waiting until you are in a serious relationship to introduce your children to your new partner, you should still communicate with your children about this new romantic interest, even before they first meet. You don’t want your kids to feel like you are hiding anything, or that you have been lying to them about dating someone new.
Most importantly, a Christian entering the dating scene should be cultivating an active relationship with Christ, well-grounded in a Christian fellowship. Through practicing daily prayer and meditation, you will find yourself feeling more positive about love, romance and relationships.
God wants you to laugh, to have fun and to experience joy! Forgive yourself for any mistakes you’ve made in the past (God has!), and remember that feeling whole again is possible.