When A Parent Remarries

Tips to help work it out

When parent remarry, a whole host of decisions have to be made, and so many feelings at stake when there are kids in the picture.  There may be a wedding to plan, a honeymoon to think about, where to live, and what to use as a last name. The book, We're Not Blended, We're Pureed was written by two women, one who was part of a blended family, and the other a nationally certified professional counselor.  Together, they have covered many of the issues that face when a blended family is created.

Taking a honeymoon:

"Many factors come into play as bride and groom determine what their best choice may be. Financial impact and availability of vacation time are among the easiest factors to reconcile. The willingness of suitable caregivers may help a couple determine if they will even have a  honeymoon that includes time alone away from children."  They cite choices like leaving the children with familiar people in well-known surroundings, taking a family vacation at some later time, or taking what one family referred to as a "family-moon." 

The bottom line?  "Whether or not you and your intended opt to have a honeymoon, a family-moon, or stay put and begin the adjustment process in your home, taking time on a regular basis to nurture the marriage is vital. That means finding time that you and your spouse can be alone." 

Changing last names:

Last names involve many factors, they write. Changing a last name might affect the parent personally and professionally, especially if one has established themselves under that last name. There may be feelings of "dishonoring" the deceased partner, or losing touch with the culture, rituals, and attitudes of the former partner's family.

"Some women," they write, "who have 'professional names' use their spouse's name in their private, day to day lives, but are known in their businesses by that previously established professional name."

"Some women..prefer to retain a last name that matches that of their biological children, often stating the concern that this practice may minimize confusion between school officials, teachers, community program directors, coaches, and the blended family."

"Equally important and challenging is determining what the children will call the newly married parents in the blended family home. Give children time to adjust to the new family dynamic before expecting to hear "Mom" or "Dad" applied to a stepparent."

Where to live:

"Many couples choose to settle in neutral territory, a home new to all, which makes the boundary between the old and new clearer and the creation of new memories a little easier."

But what if moving to a new home isn't realistic?

"A dialogue is necessary regarding what changes may occur in the home," they write.  "Who decides, what goes from home A to home B, and what does not.  Be alert to the potential for unexpected emotions as you and your partner review the lives you lived before you became a couple. Your children are not immune to feelings of grief and loss and strong attachments to things that represent the previous family dynamic -- things that remind them of other people they have loved. Be gentle with your children, with your partner, and with yourself."

Help your kids create healthy self-esteem.