How did you feel after your divorced parent remarried? Where you nice to your step-parents?

I approach this question from the perspective of a divorce lawyer.

I am a big fan of remarriage under the right circumstances.

Be very careful and don’t move too fast when it comes to remarrying. Blended families can function well, but it takes a lot of planning, a lot of attention, sacrifice, and effort.

Generally (as much as I hate to say it), I have observed that most young children (not all, but most) resent their parents remarrying.

Of course there are exceptions. Some children know that Mom or Dad divorced the other parent because the other parent is crazy, abusive, unfaithful, a drunk, a drug addict, or some combination of these failings. Such children often find it a little easier to understand why the divorce occurred. They may understand that Mom or Dad didn’t deserve to be mistreated and may thus understand why Mom or Dad remarried. Even then, however, children can see remarriage as a parent rejecting them. Why?

It took me decades to understand this, but now I have more insight into why you hear about children believing that they were the cause of their parents’ divorce. It’s not that they think that “Dad’s/Mom’s leaving because you, Johnny or Janie, are a bad kid”; no, it’s because children believe that the world (and this includes their parents) responds to kids. If their parents divorce, it’s in response to the child. You children are (by nature) so self-centered think that they did or thought something to cause their parents to divorce.

In that same vein, I think young children see a remarriage as a reaction of a parent to the child, and the child feels rejected, “I’m not enough,” or “I’m being replaced,” “Daddy/Mommy loves this person more than me.” It may not be true, but it’s understandable, if a child sees it that way. And if the new spouse has children, that can only aggravate the situation. Without taking into account how the kids will feel about your remarriage, your new spouse (and step-siblings, if there will be any), your remarriage is likely doomed, and you can expect the kids to treat both you and your new spouse angrily and contemptuously.

Plan Ahead, Get Counseling, Work with Your Children, Stick to Your Plan

If you want to remarry (and you’re good spouse material yourself), that’s wonderful. You deserve—if you’re good spouse material yourself—a happy marriage. And done right, your kids can benefit from your marriage too. But get the kids some good counseling, get yourself some good counseling.* Learn how to approach the situation correctly, learn how to time introducing a new boyfriend or girlfriend to you kids, how to break the news of your engagement, how life will change after remarriage, etc. Talk to your children and learn their fears and anxieties and questions and concerns. You will save your kids and yourself years (literally years) of strife and heartache if you take the time to prepare and execute a sensitively-crafted plan.

*Not all counselors are good. Indeed, plenty are bad. The wrong counselor can make things worse. Shop around. Find the right one for you and the kids.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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