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Wilburn: Keep kids in mind when dating again

POSTED: February 1, 2009 1:00 a.m.

After a separation, divorce, or the death of a loved one, it takes time to cope with feelings and move on to another relationship.

Before beginning a romance, people need to work through stages of loss from previous ones. Usually, it takes at least one to two years to resolve these feelings.

People also need time to form a new identity. One of the keys to success is to work on your emotional and psychological growth.

Remarrying is not a way to avoid loneliness. Form friendships instead of romances to help develop stability, independence, self-esteem and a sense of belonging.

Children involved in the relationship must be considered, too.

Feelings of loss, anger and hurt are common among children whose parents have separated or divorced, and children who have lost parents through death have similar emotions.

Because children lack experience, they don't know that things will get better. As a parent you can help your children. Encourage them to express feelings in acceptable ways.

But it's important to discuss and accept all of your children's feelings. They may think if they love mom or like her new boyfriend, dad won't love them. If they love dad and like his new girlfriend, mom won't love them.

They also are confused about being loyal to both parents. It's common for children to want to protect parents from pain.

When a parent begins a relationship, children often feel jealous. They may compare your new friend to their father or mother who doesn't live at home anymore. Or your children may seek a lot of attention or interrupt conversations you have with your new friend.

Remember, change rarely comes without pain. Yet it's possible to make the transitions smoother by talking with your children.

Adapted from: University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension

Debbie Wilburn is county extension agent in family and consumer science with the Hall County Extension. Her Family Ties column runs in Sunday Life on the first Sunday of each month. Contact: 770-535-8290.


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