I am worried about how the kids from my first marriage will get along with my prospective
new husband's children from his first marriage, when we all move in together.
Schedule frequent get-togethers during which the children of both families are encouraged
to speak open-mindedly and share their concerns without fear.
I'm a mother of a daughter (12) and a son (14). I got divorced 5 years ago and have been in
an intimate relationship with a nice man for 2 years and decided to get remarried. He is kind
and friendly to my children and has two adolescent sons. Our two families met a few times to get
familiar with each other, but his children made mine cry by making fun of them and beating them.
Now my children are too turned off by his to want to get together again. One reason I decided on
marriage was to provide my children with paternal love and a strong home life. When we get
married, all the children have to live together and get along. I'm worried about subjecting my
kids to rejection. Do you think it's a good idea for me to marry in this situation?
There is no doubt that of the many changes revolving around home life, parental separation,
divorce, and remarriage distress children severely. Very few children want their parents to
divorce, despite the disturbing circumstances that often lead to divorce, like domestic violence
and spousal abuse.
According to recent psychological studies of domestic problems, most children feel upset about
their parents' remarriage consciously and subconsciously, for a long time. Adolescence is a
midpoint proceeding from infancy to adulthood, during which mental and physical development is
rapid. Issues unique to adolescence include a strong impulse toward independence, and curiosity
about sex. Parents, meanwhile, are concerned about protecting their kids from danger and temptation.
On top of the harsh changes they suffer in adolescence, children who have to face their
parents' divorce find it harder to accept their remarriage. They feel doubly burdened by the
challenges of a new home, and the problem of fitting in with a new stepparent and stepbrothers
You will need to take measures to assist your kids to deal with the impact and stress these
changes bring. While physical violence among children is unacceptable no matter the reason,
it is likely that your prospective spouse's kids beat up on yours out of anger and jealousy over
their father's decision to incorporate another family into their circle. It makes me wonder
how the father dealt with his kids when they misbehaved in his previous marriage. It raises
serious doubts about his ability to control their behavior, as well as help father yours.
Regardless, however much you two love each other, unresolved issues between your two families can
undermine your love. I recommend you try premarital counseling. Make sure you point out and
resolve the following points:
(1)The childrens' feelings about their respective parents' divorce-are they still deeply hurt?
If so, each family needs to get family treatment separately.
(2)Are you and your prospective husband prepared for a second marriage? Have you both
resolved the pain of divorce? Have you worked out any issues with your former spouses?
How will you handle visits between your children and their biological father or mother?
Can you identify the problems that lead to your divorce (never entirely the other party's fault)
and safeguard against repeating the past through openness and individual therapy? Wait until you
are ready before joining families.
(3)Seek family counseling for the prospective re-constituted family so that all the children
can air their issues and learn to respect one another.
(4)Once united, continue to encourage the children to share responsibilities in the home, as
well as their candid feelings for their new stepparents and siblings. In a united family especially,
the quality of conversation between the two parental figures will greatly influence their self-esteem,
sense of belonging, and well being. Each parent will also need to take special care in developing a
close relationship with the new members of the extended family.
The issues you face are not insurmountable. In fact, they offer a healthy challenge.
Miracles of growth and new-found strengths can be tapped in each one of you, so good luck.