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Effects of dating on children

When you find someone you care about who seems to have some future potential for you, you are going to want to bring your children into the picture.

This is why you want to be pretty sure your relationship has some potential before you allow your younger children to bond.

Even though you cannot always predict the outcome of a relationship, it is easier on a child not to have to experience too many unnecessary losses.

You can certainly choose whatever is comfortable for you, but if you take this slowly you lower the risk of emotional backlash from your children as they adjust to your new life.

Keep in mind that they may feel threatened, fearful that they could lose you to this new suitor or that the new man will change the rules of the family.

Perhaps the most common question heard nowadays at single parent workshops is: ''How do I conduct my own love life, freely and comfortably, without psychologically harming my child?

'' The mental health professionals offer no easy answers.

Here are a few warning signs that your new man could be wrong for you: If none of these occur, and you have eliminated the possibility that your new man is the one they featured on “America's Most Wanted” last week, you may be on the road to many new and exciting adventures together.

Remember to constantly reassure your children that you still love them and that no new relationship will change that.

In the teen-ager, a strong negative reaction may be traced to his characteristic self-absorption and his own emerging sexuality. Mavis Hetherington, an authority on the effects of divorce on children, notes: ''Adolescents don't like to be reminded that their parents are sexual beings with lives of their own.'' In any case, the experts stress, children should not be expected to respect their parents' desire to date unless the situation is explained to them openly and honestly.

Even the nursery school set can be made to understand.

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