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How to Tell Your Child You’re Dating After Divorce

As a parent going through a divorce, you know it’s an emotional transition for both you and your children. While you may feel ready to start dating again, it can be scary or confusing for kids to hear this news. Approaching this conversation sensitively and appropriately for their age is key to helping them gradually adjust.

Adjust the Conversation Based on Age

How you frame this discussion should differ for young children versus pre-teens and teenagers. Young kids may not fully understand dating, so referring to your “friend” coming over works better. Older children can grasp dating terms like girlfriend or boyfriend. But even teens may initially digest the news easier if you soften the language by saying you’ve reentered the dating “scene.”

Start with an Open-Ended Question

Rather than blurting out your news, ease into the talk by asking your child how they would feel if you started dating. This gives them an opening to honestly share their reactions and allows you to better understand their emotions and concerns from the start.

Reassure Them Your Partner Isn’t Replacing Their Parent

Some kids have difficulty not viewing mom or dad’s new love interest as a replacement parent. Reassure them that you and their other parent will keep co-parenting as a team. And while your partner can eventually become a caring adult in their lives, emphasize that no one will ever replace their true mom or dad.

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Ask Them to Share Their Feelings

Gently ask your child to open up about any concerns, fears or other feelings they have about you dating. Be prepared to listen to anger, jealousy, worry or sadness. Accept these reactions without judgment and offer empathy.

Address Any Concerns or Fears They Have

Your child may worry your partner will move in suddenly, take time away from them or otherwise shake up their world. Validate these concerns and clearly explain any changes that may or may not occur. Offer assurances that they remain your priority.

Give Them Time to Adjust

This news probably won’t delight kids right away, if ever. Give them space to process things on their timeline. Keep communication open but resist pressuring them to warm up to the idea within your desired timeframe. Moving too fast risks brewing resentment.

Choose Partners Carefully

Dating as a parent means considering not just your needs and happiness but your child’s safety and comfort too. Reflect on how prospective partners treat your kids, and whether you genuinely believe this person belongs in their lives. If not, they may not be the right fit for you either.

Only Introduce Long-Term Partners

Hold off on introductions until you’ve dated someone extensively and see long-term potential. Meeting many short-term partners can unsettle kids. When they’ve invested time in getting to know and like someone who then disappears, it can feel like another loss.

Highlight Your Partner’s Positive Qualities

When you do decide to cross the introduction bridge, time it right but also set things up for success. Discuss all the wonderful qualities your partner possesses – their kindness, talents, humor, common interests with your child, etc. This starts things off positively.

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Introduce Your Partner Gradually

In initial meetings, choose casual environments like a restaurant versus throwing them all together for a full weekend. Take the process slowly and gently to allow appropriate adjustment time for your child, partner and your new dynamic as a trio.


Telling your child about a new dating partner after divorce merits sensitivity and care. Be thoughtful about their age, any concerns they express and the pace at which you integrate your new love interest. With open communication, honesty and patience, this transition can hopefully progress as smoothly as possible.


Q: How soon after divorce should you tell your kids you’re dating?

A: There’s no set timeframe, but wait until you’ve begun to establish post-divorce stability and you are dating someone seriously with potential.

Q: What’s the best way for children to meet mom or dad’s new boyfriend or girlfriend?

A: Start with casual, time-limited activities like going out for ice cream. Don’t rush into overnights or long weekends.

Q: My child refuses to meet my new partner. What should I do?

A: Never force interactions. Have ongoing talks focusing on your child’s feelings and needs first. Meeting your partner should remain their choice.

Q: My daughter was fine with me dating at first but now seems withdrawn and upset. Why the change?

A: Even kids who initially seem accepting may backslide as the reality of you having a serious, long-term partner really sets in. Patience and continuously letting them share feelings is key.

Q: How do I reassure my reluctant tween about me dating without neglecting my own happiness?

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A: Emphasize to your child that your love for them is unchanged. But gently convey you also deserve companionship, which takes nothing away from your dedication as their parent.

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