Do you have step-children? Are you considering a divorce? If so, you’re not alone.
According to recent research, 42% of American adults have at least one step-relative (a step-parent, step-sibling, or a stepchild). What’s more, there are about 11.6 million stepchildren in the U.S. Unfortunately, these stepchildren can quickly become unintentional victims when their parents seek a divorce.
The fact that they are step-children in the first place means they’ve already experienced at least one divorce, abandonment, or death. Weathering another can easily create long-lasting emotional damage and abandonment issues that will persist into adulthood.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to protect your stepchildren and make your upcoming divorce as streamlined as possible for them.
Here’s what you need to know.
Second Marriages, Divorce, and Step-children
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), about 50% of marriages currently end in divorce. What many people don’t know, however, is that the numbers are even more sobering for second marriages. According to available census data, about 60% of second marriages end in divorce.
So, why are so many couples divorcing the second time around?
In many families, the answer is simple: blending lives is just too hard. In addition to being the product of divorce, stepchildren are cited as the cause of divorce for many families. It’s critical to note that, of course, these divorces are not the literal fault of the kids. Still, many couples find that blended families create a great deal of friction, and that “making it all work” is just too challenging.
The issues blended families face are varied. There may, for example, be loyalty issues with the stepparent, disagreements between stepchildren, or conflict with the stepchild’s other birth parent.
These things can all combine to form a “perfect storm” of difficulties that put a strain on even the strongest marriage.
3 Tips for a Successful Second Marriage with Step-Children
If you, your spouse, or both of you have children from a previous marriage, preparation is key to making this marriage work.
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Prepare Before you tie the Knot
When it comes to being a stepparent, it pays to go in with eyes wide open. Instead of just trusting that everything will fall into place, take some time to prepare intentionally.
Seek therapy as a couple and a family before you get married, and come to an agreement as a family about what role you’ll play as a stepparent, and what everyone in the family system needs to make the new arrangement work.
2. Create Realistic Expectations
Step-children are dealing with a lot of their own emotional baggage from their parent’s former marriage and their relationship with their new stepparent.
With this in mind, be sure you’re forming realistic expectations about what your new family will look like, and your role within it.
Make sure to adjust this expectation as you go along to protect the kids emotionally and be the strongest stepparent possible.
3. Create Space for Everyone
With stepchildren, visitation and custody are considerations that must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Work with your stepchildren, their parents, and an attorney to identify a visitation schedule that works for everyone.
Encourage the stepkids to maintain a relationship with their other parent, and seek to find your own way to interact with them as a stepparent. When there’s room in the family for every relationship, everyone benefits.
Navigate Your Pensacola Divorce Gracefully
If you’re looking for a Pensacola divorce attorney to help you navigate your divorce, MGM Law is here for you. Contact us today to learn more about our collaborative divorce services or how we can help you protect your family.