HOME | WORKSHOPS | NEWSLETTER | SERVICES | LINKS | STAFF
GUEST ARTICLES | SUBMIT AN ARTICLE | BOOKS | DIRECTIONS

Stepping Stones Counseling Center Past Articles

Marrying For The First Time When Your Partner Has Children

Men and women who marry for the first time have different expectations than those who had tied the knot before. And marrying someone who comes packaged with children from a previous relationship muddies the picture so that it is frequently hard to recognize yourself in the new family photo. Here are a few hints to try to understand your role and how to fit into your stepfamily:

  1. Children are high maintenance and take up your partner's time. You may want to include them in activities with you but that doesn't mean that you welcome the group-sharing-bed that he/she had before you arrived on the scene. Issues of privacy and intrusion need to be discussed. And the non-parent partner would be well-served to read up extensively on child-development and what is reasonable to expect of children of your partner's ages. That way the discussion can be issue focused, not personalized to his/her kids.

  2. The bio-parent knows best. The look is familiar. "How would you know what is best for my child? You never had children." None of us like to feel stupid and this is rank-pulling behavior. It really hurts if the step-parent would like to have a child of their own. The step-parent needs to point out that the manipulation is off-base. It needs to stop.

  3. When the bio-parent re-partners, the children can feel pushed out of the central position they had assumed when they had a single parent. Now the new partner is there to consult with on important decisions and priorities. The children often react negatively to their exclusion from the seat of power. This may result in some not-so-nice interaction with the step-parent or both parents. Since children do not have the right to chose your new partner, they need to be assured of their significant role in the household but asked to treat everyone with respect and consideration. Some children need to have this discussed in a kind way (they have lost power), but the outcome needs to be reinforcing of the couple-strength position if the step-parent is to develop a significant adult role in the household.

  4. The above (#3) becomes more difficult if the bio-parent suffers from significant guilt over their divorce. Parental guilt may know little bounds in newly remarried bio-parents. They have now changed their children's lives for a second significant time. It is important for the bio-parent to understand their guilt, recognize it, and not let it interfere with the joy of finding a new partner who makes you happy, even if the kids do not see it the same way. Working through unresolved issues of guilt and divorce is complicated and may require professional counseling intervention if common sense approaches fail to do the trick.

HOME | WORKSHOPS | NEWSLETTER | SERVICES | LINKS | STAFF
GUEST ARTICLES | SUBMIT AN ARTICLE | BOOKS | DIRECTIONS


For additional information or an appointment:

steppingstones@att.net

312 Warren Avenue (Suite 2)
Hohokus, NJ 07423
201-652-8222 (private)
201-444-3686 (Center)