Who's Driving Your Bus?

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by Debbie Martinez

Divorced and back in the dating world. You have met the woman of your dreams. She is good looking, employed, smart, good to you and willing to take on your kids but “Houston, we have a problem.” Your kids don’t want to take her on so what do you do?

As a single dad, you will come to many crossroads with your children but none is more of a sticky wicket than choosing between your heart and your children or at least that is how you perceive it. This is huge for you. You want this person in your life but at what cost. At the end of the day, it is ultimately your decision but here are some things to mull over.

Perception is everything and if you look at this as having to choose than it will end up being a choice. Instead, look at it as growing pains for both you and your children and use this situation to teach some life lessons to them.

How long have you been divorced? If you are newly divorced, of course you would handle this differently than if you have been divorced 3 years. 

Is this the first GF you have brought home to the clan and they are adjusting or is this “No dating, Dad” thing a pattern? Take the time to figure out if they are opposed to you dating period or just this woman and is it justified? 

Do a self-assessment. When you start to date do you cut down on the time you spend with the kids or act differently around them? Have you laid the groundwork before introducing them to her or has she just showed up for dinner?

Some kids are more open to their dads dating than others so please don’t listen to your friends advice, every situation is different and what might have worked with one dad not necessarily will be the best for your children. Depending on the age, open communication is key and listening is even more key to a happy ever after. 

So here’s the paradox. Your kids come first but they don’t. Your children are a priority but you have to make your life a priority as well. Let me be clear, I am in no way promoting being selfish, neglectful or putting your needs before theirs, example: you want to go on a date but it’s Jimmy’s school play. You better be at that play front row center! I’m talking about balancing your life with theirs and that includes dating.

I hear all the time men and women say they will not date till their children are a certain age and what happens? The parent makes the child their life because they don’t have one of their own and what does that teach the child? They are the center of the universe.  The parent is unhappy because their growth/needs as a man or woman have come to a screeching halt and believe me that unhappiness shows through in various ways.  To allow your child to control your dating life is way too much power to give a child and believe me, you will be paying the price for years to come.

Wouldn’t it be better for your child to experience open communication, seeing their parent happy because they are living a full life, being able to change with the tides of life and demonstrate resiliency? All of these are lessons that they will need to live a happy and successful life and you are teaching all this through dating.

So, at the end of the day, who is driving your bus? If it’s your children, they will be going down a completely different road than they would if you were driving and not necessarily the best one. You are the parent so hold tight to the steering wheel and gently guide your bus knowing that you have precious passengers on board.

Laura Olsen

Houston, TX