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So, I'm a single father with full custody of my seven year old daughter and aside from Skype calls her mother is not in the picture. Today my daughter asked me quite seriously if I plan on remarrying.

I told her honestly that I wasn't sure and if I do it will be in a few years after things are more settled. We are currently doing OK, but I want to move to a nearby city in two or three years, where the dating options, after school activities, and opportunities will be better.

She understood my answer but I'm not sure if she was happy with it. I tried to get her to tell me if she wanted me to remarry and she told me to not ask her that.

I'm honestly not sure if she thinks I'll put her aside so I can get married (never happen, I put up with four years of hell to ensure I got full custody) or if she wants me to so she can have a mommy. Or she could just be curious and my asking her for her thoughts annoyed her.

Anyone have some ideas on this one? Google has failed me.

Update:

My daughter asked me this question again, so I told her that I needed a girlfriend first, and that I would make sure she knows all about my plans before I do anything.

After a minute or two, she asked if she could be the flower girl. So I guess that that problem is solved.

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    Thanks for the feedback. But remember, the child has the mind of a child, and the fantasy of being a flower girl is a lot more appealing than the reality of having a step-mother. – anongoodnurse Mar 18 '18 at 7:32
  • @anongoodnurse, very true. If I do start a relationship I'll be doing it very carefully and ensure there aren't any impossible fantasies for anyone. Normal and realistic fantasies are acceptable however. – Dan Clarke Mar 18 '18 at 8:00
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Please don't ask your daughter if she wants you to remarry. At that age, she probably can't prioritize her desires wisely or vocalize them well, and you are putting too much responsibility on her slender shoulders.

There are lots of things your daughter may be thinking about your "singlehood". First and probably foremost is that deep inside - unless your marriage was a horror for her - she probably entertains on some level the hope that you will reunite with her mother. Kids that age do that, even if they know their parents were unhappy together.

Convincing a young child of the permanence of divorce can be hard when his intense longing fantasizes that somehow, some way, mom and dad will be living back together again someday. He relies on wishful thinking to help allay the pain of loss, holding onto hope for a parental reunion much longer than does the adolescent who is quicker to accept the finality of this unwelcome family change.

Next is the fact that divorce in children creates more dependence:

Basically, divorce tends to intensify the child's dependence and it tends to accelerate the adolescent's independence; it often elicits a more regressive response in the child and a more aggressive response in the adolescent.

Your daughter may feel she needs you (and your attention) too much to share you with anyone else. (Which in her eyes may be partially "put(ting) her aside".)

Or she could just be curious and my asking her for her thoughts annoyed her.

I'd go with this. She's most likely curious about her future (not particularly about yours), and your treating her as though she were more mature than she is may have put her in a very uncomfortable position, which she may not want to or have the ability to wisely discuss.

Even adult children have trouble with divorce. have a look at this article. So treating your daughter like a seven-year-old isn't a bad idea.

The Impact of Divorce on Young Children and Adolescents

  • Thank you very much. The divorce wasn't a big problem. Her mother hasn't been physically in the picture since she was 4, and they were never close. My daughter usually sees the regular Skype calls as more of a chore than enjoyable (I don't encourage this idea). I think I agree with you about her wondering about her future, so I'm glad when she told me to be quiet after asking her once, I shut up. I encourage her to speak up for herself and listen when she has a good point, this was no different. . – Dan Clarke Feb 7 '18 at 6:46
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    The article you posted is quite a read. I always wondered how adults, with access to their wide array of emotional expressions, must react to parental divorce. Interesting to see one side of it. – SomeShinyObject Feb 7 '18 at 7:00
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Shes been through a divorce and you are planning to move to a new city. Obviously she just feels a bit insecure and uncertain about her future. All you have to do is provide a supportive and secure environment for her and she will be okay. Kids her age really don't understand marriage, divorce, relationships, or any other major life choices in anything but the roughest and most simplistic terms. Her asking about you remarrying is probably not as big of an indicator of anything as you might think. If you are going to ask your kids their opinion of something it needs to be in very simplistic informal and low-pressure means. Asking your daughter if she wants you to remarry is putting her on the spot and asking her to make decisions light years out of her league. Divorce and a move leaves a kid feeling insecure, asking them to make the decisions even more so. If you provide a supportive secure environment for her and establish a trust that as her parent you will care for her and protect her unconditionally then she will a lot more okay with the decisions you make.

Remember, to a kid that young you are basically a god. Imagine how on the spot you would feel of some guy with a robe and white beard took you up into the clouds and went "hey man, There's gonna be a big flood in a 3rd world country, do I save the hospital or the school?"

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Children are egocentric until about 7 years old (as in the later months of being 7, not when they just turn 7. Google Piaget if you're interested in learning more about this theory).

I'm not sure she fully understands the effects you remarrying would have on her at that age. What I remember from my university studies in early childhood teaching though, were that because children are egocentric they may sometimes think that, somehow, what they did caused their parents to split up. Has your daughter mentioned anything about why she thinks you split up with her mum? Does she blame herself (hopefully not)? That's not necessarily the case but it's just a thought as you mentioned she keeps asking if you'll remarry.

  • Fortunately my daughter knows exactly why we separated, she was there when my ex decided to start hitting me. I think she mostly wants to know what the future holds, she does like change but doesn't like surprises. At least I hope so. – Dan Clarke Mar 24 '18 at 15:40
  • Sorry to hear that your ex started hitting you. I'm glad your daughter understands why you separated though. Perhaps she's just curious then? Sometimes when children chat to each other at kindergarden/school or play role playing games, they chat about their parents, family etc and questions pop up. It's very normal and children are naturally very curious about everything. I work with children aged 4-5, and noticed it's around the age when they start asking a lot of questions (especially why questions). Maybe remarrying is just one of the things your daughter is curious about :) – what not Mar 25 '18 at 19:21
  • thanks, but it was a blessing in disguise. When you can hand the judge a restraining order on your spouse, it really helps in custody disputes. Take care. – Dan Clarke Mar 28 '18 at 1:40

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