Dealing With Stepchildren

When you're trying to build a solid second marriage, dealing with stepchildren can present obstacles, especially if the kids don't want the marriage to work in the first place. So, how do you manage the situation and keep the kids from tearing the two of you apart? The following input from the life coach can give you some perspective:

Can kids ruin a second marriage?

Casey's Question: My husband left me a little over 2 months ago and I filed for divorce 2 weeks after he left. He said that he could not handle my two teenage sons. The 3 of them have not gotten along well since we purchased our first house together. My husband's 13 year old daughter has not liked me from day one. We have been married for over four years. I love my husband dearly, but when it comes to the kids we bang heads. He wants to go to counseling and I agreed, but I have not stopped the divorce. Am I wrong in going to counseling, hoping that this may save us while we are still up for divorce? HELP.

Gloria's Answer: No, Casey, it is never wrong to continue to go after what you truly want! And I'm not hearing that you want the divorce, you only want the fighting and the arguments to stop over the kids.

Remember that the kids are only around for a few years, though that may seem like an eternity - I know! But in the end, it will be you and your husband. Go to counseling, learn some new techniques that will support you, take the kids so they can express themselves and what is going on inside of them, and continue to do whatever you feel is within your power to fight for what you want. I admire you, Casey! Keep on keeping on!!

Why hasn't he introduced me to his daughter?

Wendy's Question: I am the 'other woman'. Our relationship grew over a two year period before we were discovered. He was preparing to leave, had sold properties, etc. when we his wife found out about our relationship. It has been a year now, the divorce is final, and I still have yet to meet his daughter. We are being careful, as she is hurt by the divorce/infidelity, and we want to 'do it right' since we know our choices effected so many, and don't want to make any more costly mistakes. However, I am losing patience at times, and feel we should move closer to the next step and quit living a lie. She knows I'm part of her Dad's life and that we're happy together, but he's protecting her still a bit too much. I get frustrated. It's been a year, I feel like it's time to face reality. Am I selfish for wanting to take the next step forward?

Gloria's Answer: Thank you so much for your honesty, Wendy. I'm sure that there is a big part of you that wishes you had met under different circumstances, and you never were the "other woman". But the truth remains that much pain was and continues to be created as a result of your choice to involve yourself with a married man... Pain that endures for years.

I want to be as gentle in my words as possible, and I also want to speak the truth to you. Your decision to choose to be with a married man was a very selfish act. You gave no consideration to his wife or his family. You saw a man that you wanted and you went after him. Regardless of whether or not he pursued you, you were not a victim, but a very willing participant. You knew what you were creating, and you went for it anyway.

Your requests, your impatience, your pushing is only another selfish act. You want to "do it right", but there is no manual on any of this. You are a part of this child's Dad's life, but you do not have to be a part of this young girl's life. She has a mother and a father who love her very much, who want to protect her from all the hurt that is in the world, and who want the very best for her. For now, for whatever reason, her Dad is choosing not to include you. Honor his decision as her Dad. Stop the selfishness, and do the right thing by letting this family get through all of the painful changes they must face. I have no doubt that this is painful for you, as well. Infidelity is never a pretty picture.

He favors our sons over my daughter from my first marriage.

Gretchen's Question: I have been in a second marriage for several years now. My current husband and I have two little boys and I have a teenage daughter from a previous marriage. My husband blames my daughter for everything that goes wrong in our household and openly prefers the little boys. He constantly speaks negatively about her, and wants her out of the house. I can't even respect him any more for all the hostility he has shown her. Also, we basically don't agree on anything in life and are constantly arguing. I have thought of separating for a long time and think it is important to save my daughter but have not done so yet for the sake of our two little boys. How do I decide which of my children to sacrifice? Do I leave for my daughter's sake or should I stay in order not to break up the boys' home?

Gloria's Answer: You asked a pretty tough question regarding which one of your children you should sacrifice. There is an assumption that your daughter or your boys have to be, and I want to encourage you that that is not the case!

I do want to back up a minute though, and ask you a question. In being a "good" Mom, you are thinking that you need to put the needs of the children before your own. I would whole heartedly disagree with that. All of your children will benefit when Mom is taking care of herself and getting her needs met. So, I want to ask YOU - What do YOU want? Do you want to make this second marriage work or are you ready to throw in the towel?

By making the decision based on the children, you are giving away your responsibility in living your own life and making your own decisions. If you choose to stay, then get the support you need to communicate with your husband the boundaries in disciplining and respectfully talking to your daughter. You are not helpless here. You can do this! If you choose to leave, support your boys in still seeing and loving their Dad even though the two of you live in separate homes. You can do this, too.

The decision of whether or not to stay in a marriage should never be about the kids because there may come a time when the children take on that responsibility and guilt that was never theirs in the first place. Make the decision for yourself and never sacrifice any of your children by putting them in the middle of your marriage.

About Gloria Swardenski

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  1. Divorce
  2. Children's Issues
  3. Dealing with Stepchildren