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A recent question: “Hello, I’m a single father of two girls, 16 and 11. Been divorced for 2 years. I found a great new fiancée, my kids love her and are OK with her but she was in a long relationship and has a 7-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter. My daughters relate to her children OK but her son is having a hard time with everything. After he visits his father he is confused. He likes me but I don’t know if he is confused because he doesn’t know how to tell his dad he likes me or if the dad is saying stuff to him. Please help. My fianceé and I am so worried about this! We haven’t moved in together or anything so what do you suggest?”
“It sure gets complicated when people involve children in the dissolution of marriages and relationships!
I do not have the wisdom of Solomon. But I do know that all children need 1)two parents, 2)predictability, and 3)stability in their lives. Divorce (and I am very aware there are some divorces that need to happen) interferes with all these needs.
Look at what divorce might do from a child’s point of view: This 7-year-old boy might have to change his room, house, school, friends. He even has to change dads! And his mom might be a bit “lost” to him if she is tied up in a new relationship. From this boy’s point of view his life is now chaotic and confused: Four parents??? Two houses???
What can be done? Give this boy time, all the time in the world he needs to get used to all these new people and places. Postpone living together for two reasons: the child and yourself. Relationships after a breakup can easily falter. The last thing any of the four children involved need is another breakup. Ideally a divorced parent would not date for several years or, if dating, will not introduce a date to the kids right away or ask for the kid’s approval until the relationship will be permanent.”
Because I get more questions dealing with the complications of divorce for children than any other topic, I think about children affected by divorce a lot. Dr. Laura, once of radio fame, used to be rather cruel to her callers. But two things she said made good, though draconian, sense. “Don’t make a baby if you are not married.” and “If you divorce don’t date until your youngest is 18.”
I don’t go quite that far. But as I said in my answer above, and will repeat now, DO NOT involve your children in the dating process until there is a genuine and mutual commitment. Remember, after a divorce, the first person you think may be “the one” often isn’t which is why the divorce rate is high in previously divorced people.
Finally, if the person you are dating has children these children enter into the decision equation.
If I were Dictator of Child Happiness, I would rule that parents must apply for a license to have children which would only be granted after premarital counseling. Also parents thinking about divorce would be mandated to go to mediation before they could file for divorce.
Too many children are affected by divorce. They did not ask to be born and, with very few exceptions, they want their parents to stay together and want to live in an intact home not a broken one. After divorce think of the children you made before you worry about your self..
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