But despite such late-night chats and an occasional "flurry of activity" on her social calendar, Eva hasno interest in introducing any man to her sons."Some of the people I've met have said, 'Why don't my son and I meet you somewhere?Given the power to vote on the relationship, the children cast "no" ballots and told their dad that, per his earlier declaration, Joanne couldn't move in until after they went away to school. Neuman is creator of a divorce therapy program for children mandated for use in family courts by many states.The story illustrates the confusion and anxiety children often feel when parents, eager for some measure of happiness and success in a new relationship, struggle over how much distance to place between their children and a newly developing romance."Seeing a parent date is an odd scenario for kids," says M. "It sometimes hammers home the message that our parents are never going to get back together."The power of the reunion fantasy is not to be underestimated, says Neuman, observing that some childrencling to the belief that their parents will get back together even after one parent has remarried.It is an argument for honest, direct dialogue with kids about new relationships: Why Mom or Dad wants one, what Mom or Dad will doif a new relationship becomes serious, and how Mom or Dad's relationship with the child will be affected. had been divorced for six years when she announced to her children that she was thinking ofstarting to date again."They fell on the floor laughing," she recalls."They told me I was too old to date."Since then, Eva and her 13-year-old son have had many discussions about her relationships with menand his with girls. remembers the conversation she had with her two sons following one of their regular visits with herex-husband.
The reasonis simple: A child's own identity is very much tied to that of his family.When the family disintegrates, achild's sense of self is threatened, even if he maintains strong ties to both parents.But when she referred to their father as someone who was dating, the children were quick to insist that she was wrong."Daddy told us he won't date until we're in college," they declared."She's just a friend."Tears followed some time later, when the father asked his sons for "permission" to allow Joanne move in with him. C., author of Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way.Neuman recalls, "This 13-year-old kid once said to me, 'I feel, now that my parents are separated, that Idon't exist.'"While most children don't articulate their feelings so strongly -- in fact, most shrug or say "okay"if asked how they're coping with a parental split -- therapists who work with children of divorce agreethat divorce makes kids question who they are, where they came from, and where their lives are headed.
That's not an argument for or against divorce, for or against dating.