Both sets of kids are forming a pretty solid step sibling alliance. Although your step family is still a work in progress, you feel pretty confident things are pretty much on track, and that your children and step children are becoming a blended family. But here comes the kicker: during their last visitation with your ex-spouse, the kids were informed of upcoming remarriage plans. And the new partner will bring step siblings into the new blended family!
First reaction – yours
Your first reaction may well be that your ex should have told you before telling the kids! Sure, that is unfortunate, but it is better to move on. What matters is how the kids are dealing with this news of another remarriage.
How might the kids feel?
Your children have probably known about the new relationship for a while, and are not surprised by a remarriage announcement. They have probably met the new spouse’s children, and even spent time with them. But knowing something may happen, and understanding it, supporting it, or being happy about it, are entirely different matters. Younger kids will need assurance that they will still be loved the same as before. Adolescents and younger teenagers will be cautious, but will tend to focus more on how these changes might affect their own lives. They will likely look to find fault with the remarriage situation. Older teens may or may not mind at all, one way or the other, and feel a little aloof from the fray. It is helpful to remember that they are generally very uncomfortable with the idea of parents being intimate. In other words, your children will most likely feel the same way they felt back when you told them about your own remarriage plans.
Another blended family!
As if one step family were not enough, your children will now have a second blended family to cope with! New step parent, new step siblings, new step aunts and uncles, step grandparents, step friends, step dogs, step everything else! New house rules, new sleeping arrangements, new television programs, new foods, new expectations, new, new, new! As with your own, this second remarriage is not anything your children chose, and now they will go through it all again! Unfortunately it does not get easier for them, the second time.
You can help your children cope by empathizing with their situation: an additional blended family will mean a whole new group of people they will have to get to know, learn to understand, and even learn to love. There will be new house rules, new schedules, maybe a new home for their other parent, and of course the new step-siblings. This is a lot to deal with! Be understanding and sympathetic, but above all, be positive. They need your conviction that a blended family is a good thing.
What will help most?
First and foremost, do not speak negatively about your ex-spouse, the new partner, or their upcoming marriage in front of your children. Your children will have a life-long relationship with these people, who will have a hand in raising them. Negative talk only make a negative impact on how easily your children cope with the new situation, and negative remarks or complaints will assuredly make them feel they must choose sides.
Living in a blended family, or two blended families, can be a struggle for your children and step children. Belonging to two step family groups does come with very positive possibilities and opportunities, though. With understanding support and a little help from you and your spouse, and with cooperative co-parenting with your ex and the new step parent, all the step siblings can develop great family bonds that can enrich their lives forever. Good luck!