LOVE & LIFE ISSUES with EMMANUEL MUKULA
WHEN you and your partner decide to get married with children from one or both of your previous relationships, know that what lies ahead can be both a rewarding and a challenging experience.
While as parents, you approach marriage with great joy and expectation, your children or your new spouseâ€™s children may not be as excited. Theyâ€™ll feel uncertain about the changes and how it will affect relationships with their biological parents. Theyâ€™ll also be worried about living with their stepsiblings, whom they may not know well or like.
After a painful divorce and later manage to find a new loving relationship, the temptation can be to rush into remarriage without first laying solid foundations. Taking your time, you will give everyone a chance to get used to each other, and the new set-up because too many changes at once can unsettle children and affect your relationship.
Donâ€™t expect to fall in love with your partnerâ€™s children overnight as love and affection takes time to develop. Try to get the children used to your partner and his or her children in daily life situations. Make parenting changes before you marry and agree with your new partner on how you intend to parent together and make the necessary adjustments to your parenting style before you remarry as this will make the transition smooth.
You canâ€™t insist people love each other but you can insist that they treat one another with respect and limit your expectations. Give your time, energy, love, and affection to your new partnerâ€™s children, but it may not be returned immediately. Think of it as making small investments that may one day yield a lot of interest. Allow children to slowly adjust to the prospect of marriage and being part of a new family. Communicate openly, meet their needs for security, and give them plenty of time to make a successful transition.
Remember that children want to count on parents and step-parents for their great need for safety and security and to be heard and feel emotionally connected. Children of divorced parents have already felt the upset of having people they trust let them down, and may not be eager to give second chances to a new step-parent. Children like to see and feel your affection, but it should be a gradual process.
Children respond to praise and encouragement and like to feel appreciated. They may not think they need limits, but a lack of boundaries sends a signal that the child is unworthy of the parentsâ€™ time, care, and attention. As a new step-parent, you shouldnâ€™t step in as the enforcer at first, but be careful and work with your spouse to set limits.
Tell the children that your new spouse will not be a â€˜replacementâ€™ mom or dad, but another person to love and support them. It might be helpful to set up some â€˜house rulesâ€™ for communication within a blended family and creating family routines and rituals which help unite family members. These could be Sunday attendance of church and eating meals together to bond with your children and stepchildren will greatly help.
Newly remarried couples should use their first months together to build on their relationship. Couples with children, on the other hand, are often more consumed with their own children than with each other. Focus a lot of energy on your children and their adjustment, but you also need to focus on building a strong marital bond. This will ultimately benefit everyone, including the children. If the children see love, respect, and open communication between you and your spouse, they will feel more secure and may even learn to model those qualities.
As a couple, always set aside time by making regular dates or meetings. Present a unified parenting approach to the children and know that arguing or disagreeing in front of them may encourage them to try to come between you. If the children see and feel your emotional support, they will do their best with the situation.
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LOVE & LIFE ISSUES with EMMANUEL MUKULA