Wedding bells for you, your bride, and the kids?

Here are helpful tips from those interviewed:

*Be realistic about the fact that you are not only marrying a woman, but you are also "marrying" her children.

*Have an open, honest talk with the children's mother before marriage about all the issues - finances, roles, discipline, future offspring, etc. Some couples seek professional help with this.

*Consider writing down each of your expectations for the marriage and coparenting relationship. Use these thoughts as discussion points for your frank talk.

*In terms they can understand, lovingly explain to the children your new role as their mother's husband. You may want to assure them that you will not be replacing their father, but that you look forward to helping their mother take care of them. Allow the children time to warm up to you.

*Encourage involvement of the children's father in their lives as much as possible.

*Be realistic about the fact that the children's father may not contribute financially after you enter the picture.

*To support the relationship between children and their new stepfathers, mothers in this situation may want to encourage activities and adventures for them to share without her. This could help the "bonding" process. If the new stepfather isn't used to being around children, patience will be much appreciated as he learns about relating to and disciplining the children.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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