When entering an already established family with children, remember the children may be very sensitive to their Mother/Father dating. Children have gone through a very traumatic experience and the thought of someone coming into their home to either replace the parent who has left or just the fact that they may take their parents attention away can make them be very defensive at first.
It’s best not to try to hard to impress the children. Give them time to get to know you. Don’t ever try to replace the parent who has left. They only want you to be their friend. This way you will find that your relationship should move along a lot smoother, but at first you may have to work at it. Remember they are still children, but broken ones.
Try to be yourself at all times; they want to know you for who you are.
Don’t try to impress them by buying things for them, let them see the real you.
Don’t shut the child out because you want to get closer to their parent. You knew before you entered the relationship that children were involved, so try to include them on some of your dates. You may be surprised at how much fun you all have.
Respect that the child may want personal space with their biological parent. If you honour the child’s request to give them time with their Mother/Father, they may not be so jealous of you having time with their Mummy/Daddy.
Spend quality time alone with their children. Find out what sports they make like, or hobbies. Take time out to get to know them, and get into their world for a while.
Respect your new partners ex-spouse. This is very important for the child.
Don’t ever talk bad of their Mother /Father who is not living with them.
Sometimes it’s best to put yourself in their parent’s shoes to see how you would like it if they were talking like this about you?
If the child wants to talk to you about their Mother/Father just listen, but never talk badly of them even if the child does. The next day the child will love them again. A Child's love is unconditional.
Give the Children your full attention when they are talking to you. Eye to eye contact is very important.
Always remember to be patient with children you are getting to know. They are also trying to adjust to something they probably never thought they would have to go through.
Always remember, they are Children.
Q. Why are you getting a divorce? A. Mummy and Daddy have tried to work through things together but it hasn’t worked. This was the last thing we wanted to happen.
You must know right now that this isn’t your fault at all.
This is Mummy and Daddy’s problem to work through, but we are here if you want to ask us anything. We understand that this is also a very sad time for you, and understand that you are also hurting. Would you like to talk to me, or ask me anything now? (This may open the door straight away for questions your children may need answered). Know we are here if you ever want to talk or share your feeling with us.
Q. Aren’t you happy being together anymore? A. We are finding it difficult to be together at the moment, so we are trying to work through things. We want you to know that we are still very happy and proud of you. We will work through this so please don’t think that it has anything to do with you.
You make us both very happy, more than you could ever know.
(Try to make sure your child understands that this separation or divorce isn’t their fault. You may have to ask them if they understand?)
Q. Do you still love me? (Reassurance question) A. More than anything in the whole wide world. We will always love you.
(Showing affection at this time would help. Say a cuddle).
Q. Will we still be a family? A. We will still be a family, but there will be a few changes. We may be doing different things at different times with you, but we are still your parents and we love you very much.
(Sometimes children fear that the parent at home may also abandon them. so reassure them this is not the case).
Q. Who am I going to live with? A. We will work that out, you don’t have to concern yourself with it. We will make sure that you are happy with the arrangements and that you see us both as much as possible. (Sometimes Kids feel like they have to work it all out, and take care of the new living arrangements. Let them know that as parents you are still in charge.
They need the stability and security of who is still in charge).
Q. Will you call me every day when you move away? A. Yes. Lets make at time for us to chat each day right now. What time do you think? After school?
(Set a time with them, so that your child feels like you are making this phone calling to them a priority in your day).
Important Note: Don't forget to call them, otherwise you will let them down.
Q. Will you ever get back together? A. At the moment we need to have this time apart, and we can’t promise you anything. We just want you to know we are here for you. (Never make promises you can't keep. Children never forget).
Q. If I stopped being naughty and fighting with my brother/sister would you have stayed together? A. We did not separate because of you and your brother/sister, and it’s not because sometimes we may be upset with you. This is something between Mummy and Daddy. It's an Adult issue.
Handle your business.
Your children need to know that as their parent, you are there to protect and nurture them, not the other way around. Remember you are the adult, and you're responsible for your own feelings. Your children don’t make you angry or happy or sad. Just like everyone else in your life, your children behave a certain way and you make a choice about how to respond. Don’t make your children responsible for your emotional baggage (and we’ve all got baggage.) They are not psychologically equipped to deal with your mess. If your children feel like it is their responsibility to take care of you, they might avoid coming to you with news that they don’t think you can handle. This is where is becomes dangerous, because kids will push their emotion needs under the carpet but sadly years later you may see it explode (Anger issues, drugs, violence, bad choice of relationships). If you find yourself leaning on your kids to fulfill your emotional needs, I hope you’ll consider getting help from another trusted adult. Seeking counselling your yourself and for your children is a wiser move.
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