After a divorce, or the end of any relationship that involves children, there is always the thought of how to transition children into a new relationship.
When is the right time?
Is it better to have a new partner with children or without?
Life is not the Brady Bunch and most of us will deal with one “psycho” ex. Luckily for me, my ex and I work very cohesively for our children. He is pretty darn blessed that I’m in no way a “psycho.” Unfortunately, too many people have to deal with an ex who is either not over the relationship, angry, bitter or vindictive; they use the children as a tool, and can create many issues within a new relationship and a new marriage.
How to ease the path? What can we do to be supportive of everyone involved?
Take time to listen to your children and hear their concerns. If they are being told what to feel or think from the other parent do not ever speak negatively of the other parent to your child or the new partner/spouse’s child. Sit down and allow them to voice their emotions and work on a plan to help them adjust.
2. Go Slowly.
You can not expect any child will accept you without hesitation. You are a new person in the child’s life and it will take time. Be patient.
3. Always be kind.
This goes back to never speaking negatively about the other parent. Be the bigger person.
4. Give the children choices.
They will not have many choices in the path of your new marriage or relationship, but they can have input on small things to make them feel as if they are part of the process. Even small things like choosing a place to have dinner can make an impact.
5. Include all the children (if you and your new partner both have children) in events.
Make sure to do special family things when everyone is together. Outings, vacations, movies, hikes, ice skating—whatever you do that is unique to your family keep everyone involved.
6. Meet the former spouse.
Take the time to be proactive in meeting with the other parents/former spouse of your new partner. You will hopefully be in each others’ lives for a long time and taking the first step in introductions reduces the stress of the unknown.
7. Treat everyone equally.
“Yours,” “mine”—nope, they should be “ours.” The children, the animals, the life. You have decided to begin a new family by merging two families into one. It is a disservice to all to have division; make sure that children are treated equally
8. Ignore the psycho.
If you are unfortunately dealing with a difficult former spouse, just ignore it. Do not engage in any way. Be kind, show that you are the type of person they can trust their child with and nothing more. You do not need to defend yourself or your relationship. The anger they feel is usually misguided and will fade. Allow it to fade. Like vapor.
9. Embrace the love.
You are blessed with finding love, a second time—embrace it. Allow the love to blossom and grow. Family will be stronger for it.
10. Know you are not alone.
Divorce is rampant in the United States. The number of blended families is staggering. How you define your family is up to you, but if you struggle with the process, know there are plenty of support systems out there.
Above all, enjoy the new life. Each day. Give thanks that you have been gifted with new children and in my case no pregnancy weight to lose (bonus!).
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Ed: Brianna Bemel