Dating After Divorce: The Brady Bunch was a Sitcom, Not a Reality Show!

By Jackie Pilossoph, Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling, Love Essentially columnist and author

There was no bigger fan of The Brady Bunch than me. As a kid, I watched it every Tuesday night with my grandmother. As a teen, and even now, I watch reruns. I don’t think I’m alone. Who doesn’t love the Brady Bunch??  But, I think what a lot of people forget when it comes to dating after divorce is, The Brady Bunch was a fictitious sitcom with two widows who found true love and a perfect life blending their families. Newsflash: The Brady Bunch is not a reality show!

When people start dating after divorce, I find they go in one of two directions when it comes to introducing their kids to people they date. Some introduce their kids to every single person they start seeing, as if they weigh into the relationship the factor, “How does he get along with my kids?”  Others keep every relationship separate and the kids never meet anyone their parent is seeing.


Then there are those who do it right. Those who choose carefully who they  expose their children to. They bring only the guy (or girl) they know is forever, or who they think is forever—we never really know, do we?


Additionally, the person they bring around their children is someone they know will have a good impact on their kids in some way. The guy (or girl) might have good ethical values that they want their kids to be subjected to. The person might have an amazing career, and they want their kids to have a role model in this regard. Or, mom or dad might want their kids to see them interact with someone they really get along with. If you think about it, the kids probably saw a lot of anger, fighting, coldness, and cruelty with their own parents. Maybe seeing mom or dad in a loving relationship is healthy, and will show kids that they shouldn’t settle for anything less than people treating them with kindness and respect.


I’m not judging anyone. You have to do what is right for you when it comes to who you bring into your kids’ lives. But, here are 3 reasons you might want to keep your kids and your love life separate:


1.    Kids need YOU, not mom or dad’s “friend.”


Think about how hard a divorce is on your kids. I’m not trying to make you feel guilty, it’s just a fact. So, what they need right now is YOU. They need your time. They need your attention. They need to talk to you. They need to have fun with you. And, since you are probably working and have limited time, you need every spare minute to spend with them.


Yes, I realize you have needs, you want to feel loved, you want a man (or a woman) in your life. But do it while your kids are with your ex, or get a babysitter. Because, kids are handling an incredible amount of stress over their parent’s divorce. Adding some strange guy or girl into their lives isn’t productive. They don’t want your “friend,” they want YOU. Give them what they need.


 2.    Sleepovers are bad


I don’t have a 1950’s mentality, trust me. I’m cool with sleepovers, (if you are in a long term relationship and you know your kids want the guy or girl there.) But to have someone in a relatively new relationship sleep over is really, really selfish. I don’t care if you are 100% positive you are going to marry this person, you need to wait at least 6 months to a year, if not longer.


What happens when your new person wants to have sex with you and your kids are in the next room? Do you really want to take that risk? Also, if you were a kid, would you want to wake up and have some guy you barely know pouring a cup of coffee while you’re pouring your milk into your cereal?


This is a time in your life to be selfless, and to think of your kids before your own wishes. If you have been dating someone for awhile who has met the kids, maybe ask the kids how they feel about him or her sleeping over. Make it seem like a slumber party. Cook pancakes together in the morning. And when the lights are out, no fooling around!


3.    You could be subjecting them to another loss.


Think about how you feel when you’re dating someone and you break up. You are sad, you miss him or her, and it’s really hard at times. Now think about how your kids would feel if you bring this great guy or girl around them, they fall in love with him or her, and then your relationship ends. Don’t do it to them! It’s not worth it!


Make sure that your relationship is really on solid ground before you bring him or her into the lives of the people you love most. I know it’s hard, because you are crazy about your new guy or girl, but it will be worth the wait!


One last thing I want to address is kids with other kids. Nothing bugs me more than when I see two divorced parents dating, who throw their kids together every weekend. The kids are forced into play dates with kids that are “convenient” for them. They might have nothing in common (except their parents are sleeping together) but they are forced to spend all this time together.


The selfishness makes me nauseous!! Just because they are in love, they assume their sets of children want to hang out with each other 24/7. It’s really infuriating! I think it’s nice to get together as families once in awhile, but if you really adore your kids, do things with them alone. They will love you for it.


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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorce is a journey. Live it with grace, courage and gratitude. Peace and joy are on the way! Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

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