A Newsletter For Kids By Kids
Children of Seperation and Divorce Center, Inc. / Columbia: 410-740-9553
No one ever said that relationships are easy, but if you are part of a stepfamily, you know that you have challenges above and beyond the average family’s. Often, when parents divorce, one or both eventually move on to find happiness in a new long-term relationship or marriage. While that is usually very good news for the parents, the children may be worried, upset or resistant to another major family change.
If one of your parents is newly remarried or thinking of remarrying and you are worried about how your life will be affected, we encourage you to sit down with your parent to read and discuss this article together.
What follows are ideas for both parents and children for easing the transition to a blended family structure while respecting and
accepting each family member’s feelings about the change.
1. Remember that divorce is a process. It will take time for everyone to adjust. Each family member may go through the process of mourning the old and accepting the new at their own pace and in their own way. There are no right or wrong feelings and it is OK for one person in the family to be happy about the change while another is sad. Accept each other’s feelings by listening to each other. Ask what you can do to help one another.
2. The introduction of a new family member is a big deal. It may very well be just as traumatic to children as the divorce or separation. Parents need to be aware of this potential, and talk with their children about the changes. For younger children, describe changes in concrete ways, such as changes in residence, routines and time with each parent. (Continued on page 2)
For older children, let them know that you are available to talk to them about their feelings. Kids too, should do their best to communicate their thoughts and concerns to parents in a respectful manner. Try using an “I” statement, such as, “I feel worried that we won’t get to spend time alone together anymore after you get married. The time we spend together is really important to me and I don’t want that to change.”
Parents: Allow for discontent but not disrespect – it’s important to be more of a parent than a friend to your children. Kids may not like to admit it, but having a parent care about whether they clean their room, do their homework and come home on time makes the world seem like a safer place. Reinforce to children that you still have their best interests at heart.
Parents: Acknowledge children’s fears and do your best to alleviate them. Children often worry that they may have to “choose” between the new person and their other parent. Let them know that no one is trying to replace the other parent. Above all, tell children you love them. They may feel that the new person is replacing them or competing with them for your affection. Let your children know that no one can take their place with you, and that you have enough love for everyone. Remind them that they are always first in your heart.
If you are trying to cope with a new person in your family, seek support! This is a challenge for everyone involved. The changes that accompany this transition will be long- lasting. Talk to a friend or counselor about the best ways to handle your mixed feelings about the changes in your family. Don’t stuff down your feelings, no matter how much it hurts to feel them. Remember that this is a process that will take time, and you will have good days and bad days along the way. Find someone you can talk to so you can begin to cope with all the feelings and changes a new family member can bring. The National Family Resiliency Center, Inc. (formerly Children of Separation and Divorce Center) has programs to help you and your family adjust. For more information about our Step-Family Program, contact Laurel Fay at the center by using the telephone numbers or email address on page three.
KidShare November 12 and 19
ParentShare November 12 and 19
National Family Resiliency Orientation: Contact the center for times
What is a Peer Counselor?
To me, being a peer counselor is about not hiding your feelings, but sharing emotions towards those feelings and helping others out of the darkness into the light. We say, “You are not alone; I’ve been there, I’ve had those experiences.
Like a light to guide every lonely face, through the door. Just being there for children who are going through the times I had to, like divorce and remarriage, it’s hard.
But I had the members of COSD to help me through those times. I was moved enough to become a peer counselor in training, to help other people with their problems.
I was astonished that I could help people in ways I never thought I could. This is, to me, what being a peer counselor is all about.
Volume 2, Issue 9 Page 3 of 3
Healing Hearts/ Volume 2, Issue 9 / Page 2 of 3
Step-Families, Continued from Page One
Kids may not like to admit it, but having a parent care about whether they clean their room, do their homework and come home on time makes the world seem like a safer place.
Let your children know that no one can take their place with you, and that you have enough love for everyone. Remind them that they are always first in your heart.
At Our September meeting, we asked our peer counselors to write about what it means to them to volunteer for COSD Center. Laura, thirteen, responded with this essay.