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17August2019

Intimacy4us

A new marriage with my kids and your kids-PART TWO

 Referring back to part one, if the guidelines aren’t followed, parents may feel like they need to protect their children from their new partner or that sides have to be taken in the household.

It is difficult because often, especially the wife, would’ve most likely been a single parent for much longer and would’ve taken on a role that will most likely have to change now. It is difficult for children to understand this. Family meetings where challenges and also positive changes are discussed are a meaningful way to handle the adjustment.

If you and your partner make a firm decision to understand each other’s needs regarding each other’s children, then you and the children will be able to adapt to the new unit successfully.

It’s important to have realistic expectations and to make patience a priority. Other than a nuclear family, where the mother and father marry and then have children, the children come as a package with the new life partner. This instant family isn’t easy for anybody and that is why it’s important to have realistic expectations from the get go.

Parents need to realise that the children don’t often experience the same kind of excitement over the new family – in fact, they often perceive themselves as torn between two sides. Children are very loyal. You can’t stand your ex or you may still have feelings of rejection, but your child most certainly does not share in the same kind of pain. In your child’s eyes their mother and father are amazing and are their biggest heroes.

With the formation of new family relationships children therefore experience a great dilemma of conflict in loyalty. “How can I like this lady if I will actually love my mom forever?” or “What will my dad say if I start liking this new guy?” What now?

Be patient and remember the following:

1. Understand that the child’s loyalty will lie with his biological parents – therefore don’t try to break down your ex in front of them or speak badly of them.
2. Create an opportunity for one-on-one interactions with your own biological children. It is an important way of keeping your relationship in check. Remember: It is your responsibility as parent to keep the relationship with your child in-check.
3. Respect your biological children’s private space and consciously create a space for your partner’s children who come to visit. Under no circumstances should your children feel like their space is being threatened or invaded.
4. Ensure that visiting children have their own toothbrush and towel in the bathroom and their own bedding, as well as a cupboard or drawer which belongs just to them.
5. Create opportunities for family activities which involves everyone.
6. Love, true love that cares and which will walk a thousand miles, no matter what happens, goes a long way. Children who feel uncertain or are hurting often struggle when it comes to trust and first test the sincerity of someone’s love. Understand that and have compassion for it.
7. In the case of reconstructed families it is good when there is a process of preparation on a therapeutic level for the couple and the system (with the children) before the marriage takes place. In this manner one can prevent future problems and lay a good foundation. If there are problems after the marriage, it is a good idea to call in professional help sooner rather than later. It is usually very successful and a growing process for everyone involved.

Be patient, it takes time, but the end product is well worth it.

REMEMBER THE FOLLOWING PRINCIPLES:

• We are ONE family.
• It is OUR children.
• Be emotionally healthy before you marry again.
• Make the children part of the wedding. We confirm today with this marriage not only a new marriage, but also a new family. It is important to make all the children feel like they are part of it. They are just as important in ensuring that the family functions happily going forward.
• Children are finely in tuned and can easily manipulate if they realise that the parents aren’t a united front.
• Create a set of home values with the children.
• In this home . . .

o We respect each other.
o We talk nicely to each other.
o We respect each other’s property/feelings and space.
o We share our feelings etc.

Be inclusive and make the children part of it, also in discipline. What will the consequence be if we don’t stick to our set of home values? It also makes them feel part of it.

Part one available here: A new marriage with my kids and your kids-PART ONE

Article written by SUZETTE EBERSOHN AND ELMARI MULDER-CRAIG