Remarrying after a divorce is a time for celebration—for the most part. It might not be obvious, but many children of divorce can harbor negative emotions about their parent entering a second marriage. Feelings like jealousy, insecurity, and abandonment, for example, can dampen the entire experience, which is meant to be a celebration of love. Although parents shouldn’t avoid remarrying just because it might make their children uncomfortable, it is important to consider the short-term and long-term impacts that it could have on their children.
Jealous of the New Stepparent
Children may feel jealous of a stepparent, particularly for a while after their parent remarries. They want their parent's attention and care and can't help but feel like the stepparent is taking it away from them. This can lead to feelings of insecurity, competition, and resentment towards the new family member.
Parents need to be aware of these feelings of jealousy and talk openly with their children about them. It's also necessary to make sure that each child feels included in the family dynamic rather than left out or ignored so they don't feel like they have any extra reason to be envious of the stepparent. In addition, boundaries should be set between stepchildren so that no one feels taken advantage of or pushed aside by another person in the home.
Insecurity in Themselves
When a parent remarries, it can create feelings of insecurity in children. They may feel like they are not good enough or that they did something wrong which led to their parent's divorce and subsequent remarriage. Children may also worry about how the new stepparent will treat them or if they will be accepted into the family.
Parents need to reassure their children that they are loved and valued no matter what changes occur in the family dynamic, so they know the decision to remarry has nothing to do with them. Everyone is just trying to build a happy and healthy family together, not find a replacement for what they had before. Parents should also encourage open communication between themselves and their children so that any concerns or insecurities can be addressed quickly and effectively.
Creating opportunities for bonding with the new stepparent can help ease some of these insecurities, such as:
- Game nights
- Movie nights
- Cooking together
- Sports outings
Over time, children may come to appreciate having another person in their life who cares about them and wants to see them succeed. Although, the activities chosen should be done carefully because trying to do the same activity that the child shared with their biological parent can underscore feelings of insecurity and uncertainty.
Development Issues After Divorce & Remarriage
Divorce can be an emotionally traumatic experience for children, and it can take time to adjust to the new family dynamic. Children who are unsure about their family dynamic after a divorce and/or remarriage may experience developmental struggles that can affect their performance at school or with friendships.
Two challenges that children and teenagers can face due to a divorce or second marriage include:
- Distractions: Children may become easily distracted by thoughts about their home life, which can make it challenging to concentrate on their schoolwork. This can lead to lower grades and a general disinterest in school.
- Embarrassment: Children may struggle with forming and maintaining friendships as they navigate the changes in their family life. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed of their family situation, which can lead to social isolation or difficulty trusting others.
Helping Children Readjust After Remarriage
Parents can help their children readjust after a second marriage by:
- Communicating: Parents should encourage their children to express any concerns or fears they may have about the new stepparent or changes in the family dynamic. Talking often can ease anxieties.
- Listening: While talking is important, so is listening. Parents need to intently listen to what their children are saying after remarriage, rather than deciding the direction of each conversation on their own.
- Building: Parents should also make an effort to create opportunities for bonding between the children and the new stepparent.
- Maintaining: It's also essential for parents to maintain consistency and routine in the home environment. Although there may be changes in the family structure, maintaining a sense of stability can provide reassurance to children during this transitional period.
Are you planning to divorce your spouse? If you’re worried about how that might affect your child’s well-being, then you should work with an experienced and compassionate team of attorneys. Make your first choice the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. We have created a modernized approach to divorce and family cases that help everyone through the situation with as little stress as possible, including children.
For more information about our family law services, just dial (312) 487-2795 to schedule an initial consultation.