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Two weeks ago, on a night Shana was with her father, Friedman cooked dinner for the twins and the man she has been seeing exclusively for two years. "I'm very mindful and protective of their emotions."Overkill?
Not to Elaine, a mother of three who asked not to be identified because she's in the midst of divorce proceedings. The first was starting to date two months after her separation."You go through a selfish stage when you split up," she says. "' As awful as that was, it was worse to see her son so miserable when the relationship ended. Children of divorce have already experienced loss, maybe trauma.
Today, she continues to be discreet even with the twins, who are now 23, and fiercely so with Shana, who is 8. But Friedman would never kiss him in front of her children, and even though the twins are adults, she was careful they didn't see her go off to bed with him."It's still a parent-child relationship," she says."It's better to be open [to that degree] than for them to feel there are secrets." He advises telling your ex-spouse that you're taking this step and, when one parent starts to date before the other, to say, "I know your dad is dating.When I'm ready, I will, too." Otherwise, children are caught in a bind, feeling protective of the parent who isn't moving on and angry with the one who is.Even when a relationship is in that stage between casual and committed, keep details from children.
"You assume your kids understand that mom needs a life outside of them. "He asked about him almost daily, for months," she says. The problem is not that they get attached to a new person, but that exposure to a parade of new people creates the potential for more loss."At its heart, this is about trust," says psychologist Leah Klungness of Long Island, who specializes in single-parent issues.They don't."Mistakes 2, 3, and 4:* Introducing her children to the first man she liked.* Allowing him to spend time at the house, especially playing ball with her son, then 8.* Giving him a peck on the cheek one day as they parted. Children are likely to wonder, "Who can I count on to stay around? " Some blame themselves: "I'm not lovable." The more loss there is, the more distrustful they can become, including in their own future relationships.