When it comes to remarriage, many couples have children from a previous marriage or relationship, and they may not adjust well to (re-) married life.
As soon as you marry you may well find yourself in a challenging situation. Your spouse may have custody of their children at certain times, and this in itself can put a strain on your own relationship. The children may resent you as you are not their mother or father, and the famous words of ‘you’re not my father’ come to mind. It’s not pleasant, especially when you feel you’re doing your best with the relationship.
They may even see it as a possible threat to their own relationship with their natural parent. They may think they are going to be marginalised and will no longer be the focus of their parent’s attention. It is not unusual at this stage to see children wanting to isolate themselves.
Of course, this doesn’t have to be so, but these situations usually only work out well with individually and collectively shared feelings. Everyone needs to feel that they’re heard and valued, and consideration is given to the situation they find themselves in.
Children need time to adjust. It is not that they don’t like you, but more a case of thinking that they are going to lose the closeness that they have with their mother or father, and it is this that can cause anxiety. So it is important to give them reassurance that although things may not be exactly the same as before, their parental relationship is as special as ever.
Adolescent children are usually the most challenging, and it may take all your listening skills to win them round. This is not necessarily the easiest of relationships to deal with, and you may not be an expert on the subject, so get yourself up to speed. Buying a book or doing some research on the internet comes to mind, so study hard. It will be worth it in the long run.
- Try to dispel any insecurities relating to feelings of disappointment and of no longer being number one in the family.
- Give children time to adjust and don’t rush them into adapting to new domestic arrangements.
- Make special time for children who come to stay with you intermittently and don’t live with you. There may be special things that they like to eat or do, so find out what these are.
- Depending on their age, put time aside to talk and spend time doing things that enrich your relationship. For example, you could go ice skating, watch a movie, or they could help doing the garden.
- Boundaries are important. They need to know your expectations of them when it comes to living with you. For example, what time do you expect them home, and are mobile phones banned from the table at meal times?
Guest post by Carole Spiers, Love and Relationship Expert
Image from Flickr by martinak15 (CC BY 2.0 License)