An emergency will be evaluated on a case by case basis, and I will always attempt to let you know the real story.
I will try to say, “I’m sorry, sweetheart, I’m just tired and I don’t want to go,” rather than, “Oh, they moved the parent-teacher conference without telling me, and I need to bail on the opera.” I’ll simply say, “Sorry darling, I don’t like Opera.” We can take the negotiations from there.
I don’t think I will always do this, and there are certain moments when the phone definitely needs to be turned off, but while my kids are still pre-college, I’m at least going to make sure there is no emergency. But then there are my boundaries with both my kids and my ex that I have to enforce as well. But when the text dings and it is, in fact, one of my kids … Let’s take this from the perspective of a first date, rather than a developing relationship.
In a first date you are trying to make an impression.
As a divorced dad I do understand that my kids are a priority. But kids can be used as an unhealthy defense mechanism as well.
And as I have stated that I didn’t think I’d be interested in dating a woman who was not a mom, I’ve had to revise that statement, based on new information.
But in a primary relationship I also want to play with my partner.
Married couples face the same challenge, and the balance between these two desires of mine is more about respect and courtesy than it is about being divorced or not.
As a divorced dad I am just now entering in a new dating relationship with a woman who does not have kids. We have already had moments of “oh shit, your kids are there, I’m sorry …” and “don’t worry about the kids, they are in their rooms studying.” If I try to imagine her point of view I’d be projecting, so I’ll stick with mine.
Never use your kids as an excuse, unless you simply need an excuse.
But don’t make your kids the reason not to explore a new life, a new relationship, and the new intimacies that may open up a whole new future for you and them, eventually.