So let’s divide up what we’ve seen so far, from Part I of this series and also from the IJK Family case history, into categories of lessons that specific groups of people can learn. Let’s start with: Lessons for Parenting Your Own Children When You Remarry.
1. Work to reduce your children’s feelings of loss as they share you with your new partner–and perhaps other childen. Work to do this by continuing to spend time alone with them. Note 2 things:
A. Your children will want as much exclusive time as you can give them–and, really, more. They may even see your special time as paving the way to return to single-parenthood, or even a reconciliation with your former spouse. Set limits, even though the kids will complain. If you make it clear that all the bellyaching in the world won’t change the situation, the kids will–eventually–give up.
B. The times you spend with your children don’t need to be long in terms of minutes and hours. Just concentrating on them completely sometimes is all that’s important.
2. Recognize a somewhat contradictory emotion within you: Because you had an exclusive relationship with your children, you may have mixed feelings about their forming relationships with your new spouse. This is okay, as long as you don’t act these mixed feelings out.
3. If you are a remarried parent seeing your children much less than you would like, you may feel guilty and tempted to overcompensate on weekends. But realize:
A. It can upset your step-children when you plan only for your own kids.
B. Your spouse might also feel upset, underappreciated, and think that what your children want is all that matters to you.
C. Your children, as well as the rest of your step-family, may feel more relaxed and contented if you realize that being together is the most important element–more important than what excursion you plan or what toys you buy.
D. And, despite all underage protests, you and your spouse do have permission to leave all of the children behind to do something important to the two of you. Modeling a loving relationship is one of the best gifts you can give your children and step-children.