Continuing the series on Stepfamilies, this revised and updated excerpt from Mel’s book examines the steps that can be taken to avoid some of the problems that may arise for children of divorce.
Remarrying used to be the only alternative to remaining single after a divorce but, with a shift in benefit payments in the UK, that is no longer the case. Nevertheless, despite a fall in remarriages since a peak of 141,00 in 1988, they still account for nearly 40% of all marriages, and more than 10% of families with dependent children are stepfamilies.* Sadly, many of them are not destined to succeed.
So, in the interest of successful step-parenting, it pays to think carefully, before you marry again, about how you’re going to break the news to your children and prospective stepchildren. The temptation may be to think that they will greet your decision with the same enthusiasm that you’re experiencing. But before rushing into an ecstatic declaration, you need to show a little sensitivity to their feelings.
The Effect of Divorce on Children
It’s easy to convince yourself, in the euphoria of having found someone new with whom to share your life, that this automatically ensures that the offspring on both sides will welcome the change as much as you do. You may even be convinced – perhaps with some justification – that it is to their benefit. But unless you take time to listen, to be honest about their reactions and open to their deeper feelings, the sad fact is that you may, unwittingly, be storing up trouble for the future. It behooves parents – adults – to be open about what’s going on in their children’s minds, and to make every attempt to heal their damaged emotions.