7 Thorny Questions to Consider

You have enjoyed the romance and the commitment between yourself and your companion is steadily deepening. You have now reached the point where the two of you begin talking about how you will introduce your children to your companion.

Are you single parent getting married, a divorced mom getting remarried, or a widow with adult children? These 7 critical questions will help raise your awareness of the issues to consider.

The next 7 steps will set the tone for the relationship between your children and their future stepdad.

Failure to plan is to plan to fail!

1. How long should I wait before telling the children I am involved in a serious relationship?

There is no easy answer to this question. Remember you are the expert on your own children. Take a moment to consider how your children, even adult children typically react to change.

Are the children flexible and adaptable, slow to accept change, or highly resistant or reactive to any changes in their life and environment?

Spend some time thinking of when your children last experienced a significant change in their lives. What approach did you use that helped each child adapt?

Children need time to grief the loss of their first family or loss of a parent. It takes approximately two years to complete the grieving cycle. So while you may be emotionally ready for a new relationship, your children may still be grieving.

2. What issues should I consider before talking with the children?

The ages, stages of development; and children with special needs require thoughtful planning.

Some parents think that babies and toddlers will not have any significant emotional reaction to having a new person enter their lives. In fact, the opposite is true; even very young babies sense and react to changes.

If your child has special needs is there a time when they should not be distracted by your happy news? Are there important tests or exams that they may already be worried about?

For young children and those with cognitive challenges, think carefully about the words you will use to explain your relationship. Children have the strangest ability to misinterpret information.

Some professionals advise that you should not consider remarrying until your children are adults. I do not agree with this at all.

3. Do my adult children require special consideration?

In a word, YES!

Adult children definitely require special consideration. Some older offspring are not always happy when they find out their divorced or widowed parent is ‘dating’ and planning to remarry.

Two adult children in one family may have entirely different reactions: one positive and supportive the other becomes angry and resistant. This creates additional stress for everyone.

Adult children experience similar issues as do dependent children when it comes to stepfamilies. However, they also raise issues that are different from those raised by younger children.

4. We both have children how should we handle the announcement?

If both of you have children will you inform both sets at the same time?

If you tell one group before the other, are you inadvertently setting up a situation where some of the kids are ‘in the know’ before the others?

Those who are told first may feel they are more important in the scheme of things in contrast to the other group. This may breed some resentment, feelings of inequality, and competition between the two groups at some point.

Carefully consider the timing, location, and manner of your announcement. Each parent should inform their children on their own. This will empower the children to express their feeling openly and allow you to respond with understanding and empathy.

5. Do I tell my former spouse or let him or her find out through the grapevine?

This really depends on your relationship with your former partner. If you are on friendly terms it become less of an issue.

However the children will inform your ‘Ex’ anyway, so it really depends how you would prefer they find out about your romance.

If your former partner is still carrying a torch for you, expect some type of reaction: it may be dismay, anger and grief.

The manner in which you broach the subject with your Ex may also include planning on how to prepare your children for his potential reaction.

6. Are there any other special circumstances I need to consider?

Children often fantasy that their parents will reunite. When they learn there is someone else in your life, they may be resentful, angry, dismayed.

Your announcement may trigger a sense of grief and loss that their hopes and dreams for a reunion are shattered.

7. There are some major changes in the near future should I still tell the children?

Timing is everything. Sensitivity to the underlying feelings associated with upcoming changes is critical.

If your children are already feeling insecure or uncertain you may want to delay the announcement for a while. Try to understand what is worrying them. It is too soon after the divorce or separation? Have the children had an opportunity to complete their grief work?

Will the upcoming changes significant and will they challenge your children’s coping skills?

If you have adult children or teenagers what events are happening in their lives that will need to be considered?

Enjoy your romance because once you change the status of your romantic relationship to that of future life partner, you enter into unknown territory.

The intent of the above 7 critical question is to encourage you to slow down and plan carefully.

Author's Bio: 

Dianne Martin, BSW, RSW, is a stepmom, birth mom, and Certified Stepfamily Counsellor residing on Vancouver Island, Canada. Combining her intimate knowledge of stepfamily dynamics with her professional experience, Dianne offers a dynamic array of specialized counselling and educational programs for stepfamilies. In addition to traditional counselling, Dianne also offers cyber-counselling to Canadian stepfamilies and single parents planning to remarry.

Contributing writer to StepMom e-magazine

Dianne is the Founder and Executive Director of Dianne Martin & Associates. Visit her website at www.DianneMartinAndAssociates.com