The Eleventh Hour Bombshell
by Susan Polyot
You are about to become a stepparent (or you have
children who will be getting a new stepparent) and
everything is in place for the wedding. The kids have
been happy and excited, and they get along great with
the new partner…until now.
The wedding is approaching and all of a sudden your
kids are finding fault with everything your new partner
does. All of a sudden they decide he is awful. All of a
sudden, the whole wedding is in turmoil.
Don't despair, but keep this in mind: What is a happy,
exciting new beginning for you is an ending for your
children if they have been holding out some hope Mom
and Dad will reunite.
While they were once happy with your new partner,
kids can be conflicted about their feelings as the wedding
becomes a reality, revisiting feelings of grief they had
when you and your ex first divorced. They may feel that
it's disloyal to their other parent if they act overly happy,
or participate in the wedding, or even show their
You should recognize these feelings are quite normal
and appropriate. Don't personalize them. Help your
new partner understand that the children are not really
unhappy with him; they are merely reacting to the
situation. If at all possible, have a family meeting with
your children and your ex to communicate openly that
the new marriage is okay. Often, children just need
reassurance from both of their parents to feel positive
about the changes in the family. Reassure your children
that you are not replacing the other parent—you may
need to reassure your ex of the same—and take time to
discuss how the change will affect them directly.
Children's adjustment to a new marriage depends on
many factors: their age, how well the other parent
handles the news of the marriage, and how well the
children get along with the new partner. But, even if
you haven't seen any evidence of a problem, it's best to
expect the unexpected. Children may create a pre-
wedding crisis in an effort to force you and your ex to
pull together and focus on them. They may tell you that
they want to change their living arrangements, or let you
know they no longer like the stepparent to be.
While you do not want your children to be in charge of
the family, it is important to let them have a voice, and
let them know you appreciate and acknowledge their
feelings. Don't pressure them into participating more
than they are comfortable with. You can help by
involving them at each step of the planning and talking
about their feelings along the way.
Resolving these feelings now will avoid a lot of
behavioral issues on your big day.
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