Effects of Remarriage On Children! Is it safe for your child?
Remarriage can be seen by your child in bad taste. Experts suggest ways for parents to make the process smooth
Last month, the entire nation woke up to a sensational revelation. Indrani Mukerjea, a media baron and mother of three, allegedly killed her daughter from her first relationship. Apparently, her hunger to become the high and mighty resulted in complicated relationships with a live-in partner, two husbands and most importantly, her children.
Mukerjea’s remarriages and her web of lies were consumed in bad taste by her children. But do all remarriages meet a similar fate? Do children from such ‘broken unions’ end up being wasted.
“The answer to this largely depends on how parents prepare their children for such a development. By taking their consent and involving them in this decision—at least one or two years before taking the plunge,” says Mumbai-based psychologist Dr Seema Hingorrany, adding, “By doing this, they can make the child feel more included and loved. This will also ease the process of acceptance of a new father or a new mother.”
Effects of Remarriage On Children!
Remarriages in India are often ridden with complexities, especially for the children. Majorly, there are negative effects of remarriage on children. Delhi-based psychologist and socialist Anuja Kapur says, “Children don’t just sail through parental conflict, separation, divorce and remarriage. There are lasting consequences of such changes. They are affected by single parenting and step-parenting cannot be a substitute for a missing father or mother. In such cases, children feel that living in an unhappy marriage may be better for them than witnessing a separation or divorce.”
Kapur lists the following five effects of remarriage on children:
- Children from broken families have problems bonding with his peers emotionally
- There could be problems with and health
- They suffer from low self-esteem and have difficulties in making friends
- They suffer from stress related health problems such as headaches, bed-wetting, stomach aches, feeling sick
- Not wanting to go to school
- Just ‘feeling miserable’
However, if handled sensitively, parents can make this process easier on their children and they can avoid negative effects of remarriage on children. Mumbai-based media professional, Deepika Trilokekar, 28, for instance, shares her inspirational story.
“My parents didn’t get along for the longest time and I noticed the unrest between them. When things went out of control, my mother decided to walk out of the marriage and in 2000 filed for divorce. However, when she left my father, unlike what most people thought, I supported her. And that’s how it began. While she was looking for prospects she met my ‘new dad’ and married him in 2011. He has been more than a blessing to us,” says Trilokekar.
Trilokekar was able to lend her support to her mother because she was an older child. So does that mean it’s easier for older children to settle into this unsettling situation?
Dr Hingorrany explains, “Seeing their parents move on is easier for an older child because he can understand his parents’ need for a partner. As opposed to a young child who may feel threatened by the diversion of attention.” She adds that such a situation can only stem from the creation of a positive atmosphere. “Parents must spend time with their children and hear them out. If the child persists in his refusal to accept the new partner, then they must wait before tying the knot.”
Continue reading to know what parents must do in case they decided to remarry
Must-do for parents who decide to part ways
According to experts, the parents must realise that while they may have problems with each other, the children often have a good relationship with both of them and they lose that when the family breaks up. Therefore, certain precautions are a must.
Dr Kapur prepares a checklist of nine steps to blend a family into one tight unit and this may minimize the negative effects of remarriage on children. “Remember, there may not be a tougher task in the world than to help your child cope with your divorce and a subsequent remarriage,” she says.
- Talk openly with your child: Let him know you still care and that he’s not being replaced or forgotten. Invite him to express his thoughts and emotions and be open to making changes in how you handle the transition.
- Empathise and sympathise with his feelings: Regardless of your child’s ages, remarriage evokes strong feelings that he may not understand or be able to communicate. Children see remarriage as a loss—often at the end of a string of losses. Validate your child’s feeling by listening to him and acknowledging his concerns.
- Allow your child to take time to adjust: While children may eventually embrace new relationships, few do so at first. Be sensitive to this need for time to adjust. Do not force your child to accept the situation. You can, however, expect him to be courteous and respectful.
- Be honest with him: Telling your kid the truth about what’s going on is paramount. Tell him why the marriage failed, but do it without bad mouthing your former spouse. Admit to your own mistakes and faults that contributed to the failure of the marriage–kids see these things clearly anyway. Reassure him that it was in no way his fault.
- Protect your child from negativity: Being honest with him does not require that you expose him to all the violence of emotion involved. Keep the negativity as private as possible.
- Your child is not your spy: Adults have to learn to talk. If you have something to tell to your former spouse, don’t ask your child to tell him for you; do the job yourself.
Experts suggest that once you are confident that there would not be any negative effects of remarriage on children and your children have accepted the situation and are willing to work towards it, then create an open environment for them. “You can send them for an emotional evaluation to experts to understand which level of acceptance they have reached. If they still show withdrawal symptoms, dig deeper and ask them what bothers them,” says Dr Hingorrany.
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