Tips for Divorced and Widowed Moms
by Terry MacDonald
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Tips for Divorced and Widowed Moms
Dating is tough,
but it’s tougher for women who are divorced and widowed. Along with
the fears of being “out of practice,” there are often children’s
feelings to consider.
How can a single
mother enjoy a new romance without lying awake at night worrying
about doing emotional damage to her children? Personal Strengths
and Life Coach Sue Tosto of Garfield, New Jersey provides the answers.
1. How soon
after divorce or the death of a husband is it appropriate to start
It depends on
the individual, but anyone going through a divorce should wait at
least six months to one year before even considering dating someone
new. Emotions are running high, and a person needs time to heal
before putting herself back on the market. Some newly divorced or
widowed people jump into relationships too early because they’re
afraid of being alone. That’s almost always a mistake.
The first year
after a divorce is the time to re-group and focus on making new
friendships. A woman can reflect on all the things she wanted to
do when she was married but didn't. This is a rough time emotionally,
but it helps to view it as a fresh start. It’s the perfect time
to re-develop a sense of self and decide what one really wants in
life. A woman can consider what she hopes for in a new relationship
and let go of the past in the process.
the death of a husband or partner is also not recommended for at
least one full year. Two years is even better. The grieving process
should never be rushed, and the length of time it takes for the
bereaved to move on varies according to the individual.
to consider before dating include waiting until estate matters have
been handled, i.e., insurance matters, review of the will, and the
assignment of an executor or executrix if necessary. The stress
a new relationship can cause during this emotional time is not recommended.
As with divorce,
this is a time to spend with friends. It also helps to join a support
group of others who have lost a loved one.
2. How long
should the mother wait before introducing a new boyfriend to her
She should know
him at least six months to a year. Otherwise, if she decides after
dating him for 4 months that the relationship is going nowhere,
the children will inevitably feel another loss. No child should
be put through that after going through divorce or death of a parent.
Children need time to heal as well. If the new man doesn’t respect
that, he’s probably not great boyfriend material.
The first three
months of a relationship is the honeymoon period. Everything is
fresh and exciting. After around six months, the couple tends to
relax and good behavior wears off. A woman gets to see what she’s
really dealing with. Before she introduces her new beau to her children,
she needs to find out what his goals are, to see if his values and
beliefs are consistent with hers, and really develop a friendship
3. What is
the best way to introduce a new boyfriend?
Once a woman
decides to start dating, she should explain it to each of her children
in an age-appropriate manner. After she and a new partner have spent
six months to a year together, she can start telling the children
things about him, particularly what she likes about him or little
stories about places they’ve gone together. This way the children
understand that Mom is still Mom, which is critical, but they’ll
also see that she’s happier. They will slowly make the adjustment
that they may soon share her with somebody else. Inevitably, the
children will become curious about him. They may ask to meet him.
I think it is wise to slowly incorporate the new partner into the
4. How should
she handle it if the child resents the new relationship? Should
she stop seeing the boyfriend?
often resent a new relationship for the simple reason that they
now have to share their mother with someone else. A woman can reassure
her children that even though she is going out, she is coming back
home to them. She should continue do the things with them she always
did. Before she even starts dating, it might help to hire a babysitter
and use the afternoon to go shopping, just to get the children accustomed
to seeing her go out every once in a while.
children’s reactions while the new man is around should provide
some clues to other causes of resentment. A woman should also gently
ask her children why they don’t like her new partner. She should
remember, though, that some children may not know exactly how to
express why they dislike someone. It’s important to tread carefully.
A new relationship is stressful for the whole family.
If the children
are really having a hard time with it, family counseling can get
to the root of the problem, especially if all other avenues have
been exhausted. The most important thing a single parent can do
is to treat her children the same way she did before she met the
5. Is it
ever acceptable to allow the boyfriend to sleep over, or should
the couple book a babysitter and get a room?
Get a room,
unless the kids are at Dad's for the weekend. Children don't need
to see some stranger coming out of Mom's room in the morning (or
their Dad’s, either). A new relationship is exciting and the partners
are Aertainly entitled to time alone, but a single parent must handle
it delicately and deliberately. Her (or his) behavior will instruct
the children about man/woman relationships in ways they will carry
around with them for the rest of their lives.
By Terry MacDonald
MacDonald is the author of How to Attract and Marry the Man of Your
Dreams (Even if You're Not Rich, Thin, or Beatiful). Visit her website
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