Once you have been granted your divorce, you’re free to date and marry anyone you choose. But what if you’ve started a relationship with someone who has kids—or what if you’re the one with kids?
Divorce and remarriage create a lot of new issues when kids are involved. In some cases, one ex stays single while the other goes on to start a new family. The outcome can be a happy, healthy and well-adjusted group of people… if you make the right choices early on.
When Your Kids Gain a New Stepparent through Your Ex
If you and your ex have wrapped things up with your Mississauga divorce lawyer and moved on to greener pastures, your kids might be in line to get a new stepparent. The adjustment period can be difficult, especially if they have unresolved feelings related to your divorce.
While you don’t have to like your ex’s new spouse, you do have to be respectful and understanding, if only for your kids’ sake. Parenting responsibilities and discussion should be limited to you and your ex, according to family therapist Mary Kelly Williams. However, if the new stepparent can’t leave well enough alone, it might be time to dig out your Mississauga divorce lawyer’s number and ask for a little legal help.
Preparing to Take on a Stepfamily
Maybe it’s you who’s remarrying and introducing a new stepparent into the picture, or you’re about to play “parent” to somebody else’s kids. There are a couple of ground rules you should establish right off the bat (before you even make things official).
- Find out what the kids’ biological parents expect from you as stepparent, or if the roles are reversed, lay out what you and your ex expect from the new stepparent
- Determine who will be making big decisions regarding the kids (outside emergencies that require snap decisions)
- Outline your personal boundaries with your ex, the new stepparent and all the kids involved
Adjusting to Stepfamily Life
Kids can have a rough time adjusting to stepfamily life. Research indicates that kids aged 10 to 14 have the hardest time accepting their new roles as stepchildren, so preparing them before immersing them in a new life is important. You can prepare kids by:
- Discussing your role as stepparent or, conversely, explaining the new stepparent’s role
- Letting kids know what to expect from you and what you expect from them through two-way dialogue
- Tell the kids that you are not trying to replace their biological parents, or, conversely, that their new stepparent is not replacing you
Co-Parenting with the Ex
One of the biggest challenges blended families face is co-parenting with the dreaded (and sometimes dreadful) ex. However, you’re the adult—and it’s your responsibility to set an example on how adults should work together.
Remember that as a stepparent, the kids aren’t yours; therefore, their major life decisions are up to their biological parents. Don’t meddle with unwanted opinions, advice or new rules that are contrary to what the biological parents believe.
If your spouse’s ex is making your life unbearable through the kids, it’s time to get back in touch with his or her Mississauga divorce lawyer. Kids should never be put in the middle of parent/stepparent conflict, and your spouse’s former Mississauga divorce lawyer can seek legal relief to help harmonize your new family.