when my father remarried, so I remember it well and understand his concern.
Here are some suggestions:
1. THE LOVE SHIFT
Your kids have probably had you to themselves for some time, even years. Now you have a new
love interest and even though they may be adult themselves, your kids may feel insecure, not
knowing for sure that your love and attention towards them will be the same. The younger the
child, the more confused they may be because suddenly Daddy (or Mommy) is loving the person
they married in a different way and they may feel excluded.
2. THE HOME BASE CHANGE
When people remarry and move into either one of their existing residences, it feels to kids like an
encroachment. Someone else is moving in and changing things without 'their' permission. Many
memories have been made in this home and now it is changing. This feels uncomfortable for
kids. It also feels uncomfortable for the new step-parent. They don't feel they can start the new
marriage on fresh ground when there are reminders of the previous relationship everywhere.
3. THE DISCIPLINE THING
Many single mothers in particular become tired of having to be mother and father to young and
even teenage children. This weariness is abated in their minds when another adult can share the
load and help discipline their children. NOT! Children feel insecure enough with the new
relationship without the new step parent trying to weigh-in on discipline. Even as a nine-year-
old I yelled, "You're not my mother!", at my aunt who helped Dad for some years in place of a
4. THE NEED FOR A SENSE OF BELONGING
When everything a child has ever known becomes uprooted and changed they can easily lose their
sense of connectedness. New children moving into another family are not in the old family
structure any more. They may not be the oldest or the baby now. Their home, their rooms,
their schools, their friendships will likely be changed. Family expectations will likely change.
Their last name may change. It's like a tug-of-war is going on.
Here is one huge extended family we know having the time of their lives on their combined property. Talk about feeling connected! They often gather together to just enjoy and play competitive sports.
HOW TO CREATE A SMOOTH TRANSITION1. TALK to your kids before you make major decisions. If a situation is going to affect them, and
most changes will, seek their input. Tell them that you know things will change, but lay out how
you are going to spend quality one-on-one time with them. Look after the physical and emotional
needs of your own kids, then gradually, as they learn to trust you, start to include the step children.
2. LISTEN to your kids. If they say they are scared (insecure), afraid of the step parent or unable to
get along with the step-siblings, don't fob it off. You are their reliable parent, the 'go to' guy/gal.
3. DON'T TAKE SIDES. Listen to your own children, but also sum up the whole situation and
discuss issues with your spouse if theirs are involved. There is nothing that undermines trust more
than a child who feels they are being treated unfairly.
4. DISCIPLINE YOUR OWN KIDS. It has been said that it takes around seven years for two
families to truly blend. That includes the love, care and discipline of your blended family. The
important thing is for parents to decide what their disciplinary process will be. It is better to
discipline your own kids, but back each other up. Family values and house rules should be
consistent between parents.
5. ENCOURAGE ORIGINAL FAMILY CONNECTION. Remember that your kids' absent
parent is usually still a major part of their lives. Refrain from referring to your ex partner in a
disrespectful manner and allow your children to see their other parent at regular intervals unless
a court order says otherwise.
6. CREATE A NEW FAMILY IDENTITY. Doing things together such as camping, hiking,
playing sport, playing computer games and the like, all create new family memories and it is not
long before kids have created for themselves a new base from which to continue to grow as the
Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC