Divorce profoundly affects young children in a myriad of ways. Children may feel angry, confused, or even guilty when parents decide to separate. These feelings can be compounded further when you decide to remarry. The family dynamic will change, and children may feel uncertain about how to treat a new "parent" and what role this new person has in their lives. As the biological parent in the household, you can help make the adjustment a lot easier on your kids. Here are a few guidelines that should help you as you try to establish a blended family.
1. Give your children as much control as possible.
Even though you love your new partner, your children may not come around as easily. It's important to let them have the reins and make most decisions about what their relationship with your new spouse will be. Try to:
2. Spend plenty of time with your children, one-on-one.
Divorce is a time of upheaval, and remarriage can bring plenty of those confused emotions back. During periods of intense change, your children will respond more positively if they have a secure connection with you. You need to show them they are still important to you and that your new spouse will not threaten the closeness that you share with them. Take time with each child. Be sure to allow them the freedom to talk openly with your during these times together. As you continue with this pattern, young children will gain security with the new family dynamic as they grow.
Many times, children will struggle with the loss of your ex-spouse in the home. Even if your ex-spouse is no longer in the picture, many children cling to the image of the parent who is not at home. Sometimes, your child may make unfair comparisons between your ex and your new partner. Try to show your child that allowing another adult into their life does not mean that they are being disloyal or unfaithful to their other parents and that you will continue to be there for them. One-on-one time will help bring the reassurance that you will remain consistent with them through any changes.
3. Encourage your children and your spouse to get professional counseling if needed.
You don't need to struggle blindly through the creation of a successful blended family. Sometimes, you might need professional intervention to help you to understand how best to process the complex feelings that your children may experience. Young children, especially, have trouble processing abstract realities, but a counselor is equipped with strategies to help young children make sense of negative or confusing feelings. Counseling can also give you and your spouse suggestions for how to handle discipline, conflict, and establishing a mature relationship with any ex-spouses who might still be involved.
3 September 2015
I suffered depression for much of my life, and I lived with it for years before seeking help. I visited a psychiatrist and received an antidepressant prescription along with a referral to a counselor. I filled my prescription, but I put off making an appointment with the counselor. The medication began to help, so I decided that I didn't need to see a counselor after all -- or so I thought at the time. After a couple of months of medication, a close friend of mine died of an illness. I then learned that even though the medication helped my depression, I still had not learned the coping skills I needed to deal with traumatic life experiences. That even motivated me to seek counseling, and it helped me immensely. I created this blog to remind others that medication can help when suffering with depression, but counseling is also extremely important.