As a divorced parent, you have probably had to work through a number of uncomfortable conversations with your child. You may have been the one to break the news of your divorce to him or her and, in the time since, you may have answered dozens—if not hundreds—of questions about the future. Now, as you consider getting remarried, you will need to address difficult topics with your child once again.
Each Situation Is Unique
Your approach to talking with your child about remarriage will depend on a number of factors, including how long it has been since your divorce, the role of the other parent in the child’s life, and your child’s age and maturity. The relationship between your child and your new partner is also a major consideration. For example, if your child was very young at the time of your divorce and has come to see your new partner as a member of the family already, the conversation may much easier in many regards. By contrast, if you only recently got divorced and your child is extremely close with your ex-spouse, your child may not be prepared to accept a new stepparent so willingly just yet.
Be Reassuring, Then Live Up to It
During the course of your conversation—or many conversations, as the case may be—you must communicate with your child that your new partner is not taking the place of the other parent. Remind your child that he or she does not need to choose between their parent and stepparent; both will be part of his or her life. Reassure him or her that loving one does not have to come at the cost of the other.
Telling your child, however, will be meaningless—and possibly counterproductive—unless you put your words into action. You and your new partner should support and foster your child’s relationship with the other parent. If possible, encourage your new partner to establish at least a cordial familiarity with your former spouse so that everyone is pulling in the same direction.
Your child is likely to experience a variety of emotions and feelings regarding your remarriage, even if he or she has established a good relationship with your new partner. You may see signs of jealousy, which is often rooted in the fear that he or she is losing you to your new spouse. Jealousy and fear may manifest as unusual clinginess or a desperate need to be around you, or they may show up as angry outbursts directed at you or your partner. Your child may also have difficulties adjusting to new household structures, routines, and rules. Over time, these issues are likely to resolve themselves, so it is important to be patient, loving, and forgiving as they do.
We Can Help
Apart from the personal considerations of getting remarried, there may also be legal concerns regarding finances, your children’s inheritance rights, and spousal support. An experienced DuPage County family law attorney can help you address these issues in advance so that you can begin building a life with your new spouse. Call 630-904-3033 for a confidential consultation with a member of our team today.