I recently saw some patients of mine who are now teens. They were brought in for their check ups by their father who i had not seen in some time. He has a boy and a girl about 16 and 14 years old. I knew that there had been some "issues" within their family, but is had actually been several years since i had seen them.
As it turns out the parents had divorced, the mother had some problems with addiction and the father now had custody of the children. He was trying to get "everything back on track", including visits to the pediatrician.
After seeing each of the kids alone and talking to them, they actually seemed to be doing extremely well. They had seen a counselor during some of the more tumultuous times and were happy to be in a "stable" environment and had "less family stress" as they put it. They were both doing well in school, had lots of friends and were involved in different sports and school activities. They said that their sad had been instrumental in getting things "back to normal", or back to a "new normal".
I also visited with the dad and he told me he had a new concern. He was really happy about how well his children were doing, all good. It seems that he had just started dating agiain, and he was not quite sure how to handle the subject with his kids. He told me that he had had several dates and his kids wanted to know....what's next?
I had to laugh a bit, as we had just discussed his children dating and going to Homecoming. My response was, "be honest with them". If you asked your teen after 2 dates "where is this going?", they would probably reply, "dad, who knows, we've only had 2 dates...I'm not getting married!".
I told him I would tell his children the same thing, in a manner of speaking. I would acknowledge that I was enjoying dating, that I had no plans to get married any time soon, and did not even know if i was ready to be "exclusive" ( is that the adult version of Facebook official?) with anyone at this point.
I would also make it clear that I would keep them updated if and when things changed, but in the meantime they did not need to worry. Their dad would be there everyday to get their breakfast, have dinner with them and continue their "new normal". It was just such a good feeling seeing all of them happy!