You need a bit of divorce therapy after making it through the legal minefield, and getting out of an unhappy marriage, there is a time when most women think about finding love again. Love is important to every person, but for women, it’s like having air to breathe. Everyone seems to have advice for women who are dating after divorce, but each newly freed woman gets to make her own decisions and, baby, she’s earned this right.
Here are some of the issues that come up when a woman is divorced and hasn’t dated for a while. These are proven divorce therapy:
Finding Love Again: When to Start Dating
In the divorce therapy book, Dating for Dummies [For Dummies, 1997], Dr. Joy Browne advises people to wait one full year after the divorce is final to start dating, with no exceptions. This is probably good advice for many women. However, there is something unnerving about a rule with no exceptions. And some women, who have felt stifled for years, can begin making their own decisions. Single females should be encouraged to read whatever they can about dating, but ultimately, women need to find what works for their lives.
Dr. Joy Browne does make good points about dating while married:
“If you’re married, don’t date.” A woman should wait until her divorce is final before dating.
“Who needs to date someone who is… capable of adultery or bad judgment or both?” A woman should not date a man who is married
Advice for Women: Make Friends With Other Women
It’s wonderful for a divorced woman to have another adult to talk to, and it shouldn’t be someone who’s hitting on her. If a newly divorced gal can find a friend who’s divorced as well, then they already have a lot in common. Also, it is difficult to go out into the world to look for love alone.
Divorce therapy expert says sometimes, it’s good to talk to a therapist rather than a girlfriend. The right therapist can be a great person to help divorced women navigate dating dilemmas. Good divorce attorneys can recommend several divorce counselors to try. But, smart females don’t settle for therapists who are a “bad fit”.
When a Woman Has Children
Kids should not be introduced to every Tom, Dick, and Harry who takes mom to dinner and a few movies. There are three good reasons not to introduce the kids to new dates.
It’s confusing for children, especially when it’s a different date each month or each week.
The guy and the kids may bond, but the guy and the mom may not.
There is no good reason for a man, who mom doesn’t know very well, to know mom’s address.
Dating After Divorce: A Woman Should Not Consider Every Date Marriage Material
Guys get spooked when a woman is needy and trying too hard. The right guy will come along when the Dating Gods decree it. Until then, just have fun. Flirt. Smile. Eat a lot of free food. See a lot of free movies. And, women should just have a good time (though not such a good time that they wake up next to their date). Women looking for husbands, or for daddies for their children, will scare men away.
Divorce therapy expert adds: Men need to be the hunter. It’s great to flirt. It’s great to be open and friendly. However, most of the time, the man has to make the first move. Only in very rare circumstances does a woman pursuing a man result in anything more than a booty call.
Limit Talk About Ex-Husbands advises divorce therapy expert
Women should not talk about their ex-husbands, or the gory details of their divorces, until they have known a man for quite a while. It’s okay for a gal to explain that she and her ex “grew apart”, but she should not ramble on about all the problems she had with her former spouse.
And, on the flip side, any man who talks too much about his ex-wife and the horrors of his divorce, is not over his ex or his failed marriage and should not be considered serious dating material. Too many women get sucked into trying to help and nurture a “sensitive” man, only to find that the guy moves on, once he has been “healed”.
There are so many experts, with advice for women dating after divorce, that it’s difficult to know who to listen to. Women who are getting out of an unhappy marriage should read books and articles to help them move forward and find their inner strength, but they should learn to make up their own minds. Smart gals will know when it’s time to move forward, towards finding love again.
Step Parenting Children & Joint Custody Rights
Should stepmothers discipline a child? When a stepmom marries into a joint custody situation, who is in charge of the child’s behavior? Experts recommend that the biological parent (father) enforce the rules, but step parenting children is not always that easy. Sometimes, dads are unavailable and parenting falls to stepmoms who must discipline a child, even when they don’t want to.
Role of Stepmom
The role of a stepmother and her status in the family is often unclear when it comes to authority. And, since joint custody children are members of two households with two sets of rules, it is inevitable that these kids will have conflicting feelings about discipline and loyalty to their biological mother. While most experts agree that the father should be the parent to discipline a child from his first marriage, in the real world step parenting doesn’t always work that way.
Joint Custody Issues
In joint custody situations, stepmothers and biological fathers need to be in agreement about responsibilities and rights of the stepmom. Both adults should sit down with the kids and explain the stepmother’s role. But, every stepmom should also understand that no matter how many times this conversation takes place, her stepchildren may be afraid to make a new bond with her, and they will probably engage in behaviors to test her commitment.
Biological Father Enforces Rules: Whenever possible, dad is in charge of disciplining his kids.
When there are disagreements about rules, the kids will naturally look to their father.
If a father continually undermines his spouse, the children will not accept her authority.
Kids need consistent and predictable boundaries in the father’s home, however, the house rules do not need to be the same as those at his ex’s house.
You’re Not My Mother
At some point, a child will say, “You’re NOT my mother!” In this situation, stepmoms must remain calm and in control. Here are ideas about what a stepmother should say to discipline a child:
“You’re right. I’m not your mother.”
“You have a mom and a dad and I don’t intend to replace them.”
If their father is unavailable to enforce the rules and back up the stepmom, here are examples of what to say next:
“At the moment, I am the adult in charge. And, this is a rule that you are expected to follow in this house.”
“I am your stepmom. You do need to listen to me.”
Remember to say this with love. A joint custody child is walking through a minefield of parental absences, new homes, new rules, and new family members. Many times a child will feel hurt and need someone to blame, and stepmoms are a convenient target.
Stepmother has Babysitter Role
Parents make the house rules. Step parents enforce them. One new idea is the “babysitter” role model for stepmoms. This is explained by Robert Klopfer, a child development specialist:
“If the step parent is alone with the children, the step parent is empowered with the ‘babysitter privilege’ of enforcing the rules that the parenting team has set up. Children seem to respond to this approach after testing the limits a few times. Consistent parenting reactions are crucial to the success of this new system.” Parenting stepkids, and dealing with joint custody, is something learned over time.
Stepmoms’ Rights and House Rules
When should stepmothers discipline a child? Sometimes stepmoms must take over the discipline, but it is best if the children’s father enforces rules.
When possible, stepmothers’ roles should be discussed before marriage. Stepmothers should know what to say when a child challenges their authority, though young children cope with divorce and remarriage in a different way than older kids and teens. Many times it is easiest for a stepmother to look at her role as having “babysitter privileges”, at least until the family settles into some new routines. Research has shown that if a step parent can make it through the first year or so, odds are that the new stepfamily will work out.
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