Home > Mom's Life > Marriage and Divorce > Dealing With Divorce > Children's Concerns About a New Marriage

Children's Concerns About a New Marriage

If the kids are expressing distress, depression, resistance, and rebellion, listen! They need to have their feelings acknowledged. Sometimes when they see that you are listening to their feelings, they feel able to listen a bit to yours. (Hey, don't count on it, but wouldn't it be lovely?) Try some active listening (discussed in Learning to Communicate With Stepchildren). It can help.

Fear of Their Other Parent's Reaction

Sometimes the child may be concerned about how the other parent will react to your happy news. His or her concerns may be valid—divorce makes people desperately upset, and kids who are veterans of the divorce wars often have seen their parents tremendously distressed. To help the child, consider these tactics:

  • If you're the step-to-be, assure the child that you will not try to take his parent's place.
  • Remind sweet sulky Sarah that this marriage is not her choice or decision. This may actually relieve her mind—she may be trying to take responsibility, she may be trying so hard to be loyal to her other parent that she's trying to throw off the wedding.
  • The child's bioparent should reassure the child not to worry about telling his other parent—the kid might be imagining a kind of “shoot the messenger” scenario where he tells the “happy news,” the parent flips, and the kid gets the brunt of it. It is the responsibility of the bioparent to inform his or her ex. The child should not have to do it; it's unfair, and it's not the child's responsibility.

Will My Parent Still Love Me?

You're becoming the most important player in your spouse's life (and she in yours), and it's no wonder the kids are freaking out. They're afraid that they're losing a parent as they gain a stepparent. Each child needs a lot of reassurance. The child does not need, “Oh, stop being such a baby. Of course I'll still love you.”

How “Your” Kids Will React

With Mom or Dad goo-goo in love and planning a wedding, it's common for your kids to feel like they are no longer the focus of your attention. They may feel the loss of you, especially if you've been a single parent for a while. It's true though, isn't it? Aren't you a little distracted? Once again, real reassurance is in order, as is a lot of attention. How long has it been since the two of you went somewhere just to hang out and have fun?

Stepping Stones

If you have young children who are used to crawling into bed with you in the middle of the night, discuss how you're going to handle this with your spouse-to-be.

Be prepared for your kid's reaction after the wedding as you shift your focus from them to your new spouse. Here's an example: Many single parents of very small children allow the kids to sleep with them. As you're contemplating honeymoon activity, take into consideration that your new spouse will literally be displacing small Angie or Arnold from your bed. Angie or Arnold is not going to like that. Begin the “weaning” process before the wedding. Treat the little one with great tenderness, and be aware that you may have some rough nights before it works.

But She's a Jerk!

It's possible you're making a big mistake—as I've told you, love is blind, deaf, and more than a little dumb. If the kids (yours or your spouse-to-be's) have strong, serious objections (particularly if similar objections come from more than one child), try to open your eyes and ears. Take the objections seriously—they may be correct!

If Possible, Take Your Time

Give the kids as much time as possible to get used to the idea of love, marriage, and so on. Since love has blinded you to reality, the more time you take, the better, for you as well.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stepparenting © 1998 by Ericka Lutz. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


8 Epic Emoji-Themed Crafts, Activities & Recipes
Check out the best emoji crafts, activities, and recipes! They're perfect for an emoji-themed birthday party or anytime you need DIY (and screen-free!) summer activities for kids, tweens, and teens.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme!

10 Free Summer Learning Worksheets
Print these free printables for preschoolers and kindergarteners to help your child's mind stay sharp until September!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks