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You're NOT my mother!

How to deal when your child doesn't like your new spouse

Remarriages can be a difficult adjustment for families. We've asked the professionals and searched the internet for the best tips on making the transition a little easier. Below find a breakdown of what professionals have to say:

Tips for the Biological Parent

Spend time with your child

Make time to spend time alone with your child. There are so many new changes occurring in your family’s life that your child will want to spend time with you to feel safe and loved. Spend time with them at home, at the park, or places where you can enjoy doing fun activities together. Show your child that you are still and always will be fully committed to their well-being and happiness. Check out our calendar to find fun activities near you that you and your child can do together.

Listen to your Child

Always ask your child how he or she is feeling. Listen to what they say without interruption. Let them open up to you about their feelings and make sure they know it is okay to feel sad, confused, or angry. Explain to them that the divorce is not their fault and that it was a decision that the parents made together. 

Be Patient

Have realistic expectations of how your child will feel towards your new spouse. It might take them a while to fully open up and be comfortable around them. Always put your child’s concerns first and communicate with them in order to resolve any conflicts.

Keep all Parents Involved

It is important to reassure your child that the new spouse will not be replacing the other biological parent. The new spouse is there to love and support them. They are someone who the child can spend time with and be able to talk to. Make sure that you and your ex-spouse are on the same page about communicating with your child to help ease the transition. Both of your best interests should solely be on the child. Sit down together and explain to your child that you are both there to continue to love and support them.

Talk to a Counselor or Therapist

If your child is having a difficult time transitioning into this new family life, have your child spend time with a school counselor or therapist. Sometimes it's helpful to speak with someone outside of the family about their concerns or fears. Let them learn how to figure out and express their feelings with a professional before expressing feelings to you.

Tips for the New Spouse

Explain your role to the child

Explain that you are not here to replace the other parent. You are here as another person who the child can come to for love and support. Some children may have a harder time adjusting, but this does not mean that you did anything wrong or that it is impossible to develop a healthy and loving relationship with them.

Plan Activities Together

It is important that you spend time together in order to get to know one another and have the child be comfortable around you. Bond over certain activities that you know the child loves. If the child loves to play baseball, attend all the child’s baseball games and play a game of catch in the backyard. Most importantly, have fun together and share common experiences. Try different activities with the child that he or she does not do with his or her biological parents in order to avoid the feeling of replacing the other parent. Make new traditions by doing new and exciting things together.

Be Responsible
If you are not sure of how you should act around the child, try to picture yourself as their camp counselor. You are there to spend time and have fun with them but it is also important that you play a responsible adult role in their life. Show affection and love through verbal praises and support.

Develop a Positive Relationship with the Ex-Spouse

The ex-spouse will always be a part of the family’s life. They will always play a main role in the child’s life and it will make the family grow stronger if there is a positive relationship between each and every family member. Be helpful and understanding to the ex-spouse and see how you can work together to make the child feel safe and loved.

Talk to your Partner
If you have any concerns or feel confused as to how to approach or handle responsibility for the child, communicate and discuss with your partner how you feel and what you should do together. Make parenting decisions together that will help your child feel balanced and will help your marriage be stronger.

Jacqueline Kavana is an editorial assistant intern at Hudson Valley Parent and a senior at Mount Saint Mary College.