When you make the decision to remarry, there are likely to be unforeseen incumbencies that more often than not have to do with the children you have had from a previous marriage. As these children were brought up in a different environment under the care and influence of another parent, the likelihood of the new parent and the stepchildren’s getting along and understanding each other is often at doubt. This also calls into question the complicated relationship between the stepchildren if each parent has their own offspring from a previous marriage.
This article explores the different ways how, deliberately or not, being unable to foster a good relationship with your stepchildren can potentially ruin a marriage. You will also find some useful suggestions on the actions you can take to remedy each of the situations and build a trusting relationship with and between your stepchildren.
The Fight for Attention
Whether a young child or teenager, if there is one common thing about stepchildren, it is the tendency to be jealous of the attention the stepparent is getting. They will think you are the overbearing outsider coming to take away their precious parent. They might also resent your own children since they can potentially take away the love and attention that they were used to receiving.
On the other hand, your children from a previous relationship or marriage will also feel threatened by the new parent and his or her natural children. These step siblings might get into an endless fight for attention and this is where things will get really ugly.
If you are experiencing this problem, try to approach the stepchildren in a most amicable and tactful way. Finding some common grounds and topics that you can start a conversation with is particularly effective in this situation. Additionally, showering them with love and attention is also a good way to ease the anxiety and enviousness. Incidentally, you might find that older kids can put up an even higher wall, given their level of maturity. Just remember to be patient and sometimes it is better to give them space and let them take the initiative to approach you first. It may take a long time and a lot of effort before you can start to see signs of them opening up to you, but it almost certainly will work out in the end.
If there is animosity between your partner’s children and your own, you can encourage them to get along well by organizing fun and educational activities where the children can interact and become friendlier. Frequent family dinners and movie hangouts are also good methods of fostering the relationship between the stepchildren. Additionally, praise the other spouse’s own children when everyone is around to lessen the tension and make them feel important and loved. But make sure not to overdo it or this will backfire and make your own children jealous. Concurrently, mild disciplinary actions need to be taken when they will break into fights over their parent’s attention. Let them know clearly that such behaviors will not be tolerated, and do it in a firm but respectful way.
The Discrepancies in Parenting
If you and your new partner has differing views on parenting and consequently divergent methods of disciplining or educating your children, complications may arise. You might be tempted to do it your way rather than your spouse’s, however, if the stepchildren are already used to a different style of parenting method, then it most certainly will be met with resistance. Sometimes this will lead to tension and disputes over who’s right and the children might be on the receiving end of this. To make matters worse, there is always the possibility of an ex-spouse interfering in the plan with his or her own parenting standards.
Ultimately, the parents must make sure that the same disciplinary methods and values are enforced and that the stepchildren of both sides are treated equally and without discrepancies. This requires a great deal of patience and understanding from each parent and careful discussion must take place to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. Failure to do so has the potential to destroy the family dynamics and consequently ruin the marriage.
The Financial Disputes
How you decide to spend on your children is another on the list of problems that a couple may encounter in a re-marriage. Say your spouse is the type of parent who indulge in their children and always allocate a large portion of the household income into childrearing, while you are on the conservative side and always frugal when it comes to children related expenses – the two of you might frequently find yourselves in disagreeable situations and more serious arguments and even fights might ensue. It is best to find some common grounds and work together to decide on a most fitting financial expenditure plan.
The spending habits of the spouses also need to be taken into consideration. If he or she has a tendency to overspend or indulge in gambling activities, it will eventually take a toll on the household finance and affect the common fund set aside for childcare. You need to identify this problem quickly and put an end to it as soon as possible. Remember, nothing breaks a marriage faster than finance-related issues.
Fear and Worries that the Marriage Might not Work Out
As more and more problems surface and daily arguments and conflicts become a norm, you might inevitably feel the pressure and start to fear that things might never resolve and become better. You and your partner may start questioning yourselves if the idea of re-marriage was a right decision after all. As the days go by and your anxiety grows, the feeling of disappointment and disdain also multiply, until the point where you feel you no longer have the patience or the strength to carry on with the marriage. The worst outcome at this point is obviously a divorce. But let’s try not to go there.
It is important in this situation to remain calm and try to resolve one issue at a time. Talk to your spouse frequently and try to come up with a common solution that will help with the problems that you may be encountering. Communicate with your children on a regular basis and encourage them to interact with one another. Remember that patience is the first and foremost requirement to a successful and long lasting marriage. After all, this is not your first marriage and there are many other couples out there experiencing similar if not the same issues. Give yourselves and your stepchildren time to adjust to the new environment and lifestyle. Try to maintain a balance between the time and attention spent on your spouse and that on your children. Do not let the seemingly irresolvable issues with stepchildren ruin your marriage – with efforts, you will find that these problems will gradually go away and things will fall into place eventually.