“Dating” means different things to different people, particularly across generations.

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"They told me I was too old to date."Since then, Eva and her 13-year-old son have had many discussions about her relationships with menand his with girls.

He once waited up for her when she was out on a date and asked, "How did it go? Later, the two discussed her difficulty ending the relationship.

The parents and kids enjoyed ski trips together, often in the company of other friends.

From the start, Cathy said little about her father's growing relationship with a new woman."I didn't really want her to know much in case it didn't work out," he recalls.

"She's just a friend."Tears followed some time later, when the father asked his sons for "permission" to allow Joanne move in with him. C., author of Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way.

Given the power to vote on the relationship, the children cast "no" ballots and told their dad that, per his earlier declaration, Joanne couldn't move in until after they went away to school. Neuman is creator of a divorce therapy program for children mandated for use in family courts by many states.

"My daughter pretty muchknew we weren't just friends. She made some comments to my roommate at the time, but not to me.""Don't ask, don't tell" dating policies are often the unspoken rule of parents who plan to keep their romanticlives separate from their children's lives, or who fear that introducing a new love interest who might not"stick around" will simply give their children a new reason for heartache.

Gary Neuman agrees that casually introducing every date to a kid is a bad idea; equally wrong, he believes, is minimizing the importance of a new love interest.

Both boys were brimming with news about Daddy's new friend, Joanne.