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Whose Call is it - Yours or Theirs?

Whose Call is it - Yours or Theirs?
Written by
Jackie Walker

Whose call is it when you are divorced and looking to date again - your teenager's or yours?

Thank heaven everyone now has mobile phones and the horror of the wrong person answering the phone when it rings has lessened. Can you remember as a teenager worrying that your Mum or Dad might get it first, that call from the love of your life, or at least the person you hoped would be the love of your life? You’d sit by the phone for hours, waiting for it to ring or plucking up the courage to call, missing Top of the Pops and Starsky and Hutch!

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This time round though as the parent doing the dating, you should be a role model, not join in with the teenage angst. You’re meant to assume an air of nonchalance, after all you’ve been there done that and got the t-shirt! But things haven’t really changed very much have they, the heart still beats that little bit faster, the nerves are still stopping you from being hungry and you still worry if they will like you or you them.

There are a few words of advice meted out by those in the know and I’ve extracted the following from Divorce Help For Parents

With pre-teens and young teens (11-14) you can broach the topic of dating after the divorce. It's OK to actually use the word date. You aren't going to freak out your child. Chances are good that he or she already has a good idea of what dating is all about! And this includes dating after divorce. For example, "I'm going out on a date with (person's name) on Friday. I'm wondering how you feel about me starting to date." Note: This does not mean that you are asking your child's permission to date. That isn't appropriate nor healthy for your child. You are simply initiating discussion that is likely to be ongoing. This is a good time to reassure your child that even though you are beginning to go out on dates, you will still always reserve time for just the two of you.

With teens (15-20) it is important to be honest about your actions. For example, "I'd like to start dating. It's been long enough after the divorce that I am ready to meet some new people. I'm wondering how you feel about that." Since your teens are also likely dating, it is important to talk with them about how it may be awkward to have a parent dating at the same time. It is also critical that you remain in the role of parent and not turn into your child's best friend where you each gush about your new girl or boyfriend. You are modeling for your teen. Never forget that.

It would seem therefore that the most important aspect of dating as a divorced parent is remaining a parent to your child, being circumspect and respecting one another’s privacy.

My own children are just coming up to teenage years and interests now, so this is not something I’ve experienced first hand. Like most things however, I feel that if common sense prevailed, then there would be little to worry about. The problem with common sense is how uncommon it can be!

I have heard of people who will not countenance another relationship while they still have children under their roof. What that means is that they are willing to put their relationship needs on ice until the kids have left home. This is a very individual choice and may suit some and not others.

I remember being advised by a friend, who was a social worker, that it was fine to have new partners, and that it was really none of the children’s business. I felt that wasn’t a constructive or helpful attitude, and yet at its core is the understanding that as parents we are the ones who make our choices and as long as we do so carefully and with consideration for the others around us, then all will be well.

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