Step father and child get to know each other on the beach

Transitioning Kids to a New Step Parent

What to Do if Kids Don’t Warm Up to New Step Parent

Dear Susan,

I just met a great guy and we have been dating for a year now and want to be married. Neither one of my daughters, ages 11 and 8,  have warmed up to him yet.  I know you said in your email to me to take it slowly but my fiancee and me are ready to take the plunge.  How do we transition the kids from a single mother home to a family.


Dear Michelle,

That is a challenging question, one that is becoming more common all the time.  If you are sure that your new love interest is “The One” and taking the marriage plunge is something you are confident is the best move for everyone then there are some steps you can take which I will discuss in a minute.  For now, I want you to ask yourself some serious questions.

For those of you reading this letter, there is a little back story to this question.  Michelle met her new boyfriend while she was going through her divorce from her 17 year marriage and was divorced only one week prior to writing this letter.

Now back to you Michelle.  Personally, I think you are jumping into this marriage a little too quickly.  Divorce is an emotional process and getting engaged quickly tells me that you are getting married for all the wrong reasons of which there could be many. Maybe the attention of a new beau is exciting and the attention is addicting especially after being emotionally broken from the divorce.  Could you be afraid to be alone, pay your own bills, eat dinner alone at night?  Do you love the “idea” of being in love instead of actually being in love? I am not saying any of these scenarios apply to you.  What I am saying is that before you make another serious decision such as marriage, you should take more time to be single followed by more time with this new person before you get married again.  I say this because I have had so many women tell me that the second “rebound” marriage ended up worse than the first one.  Could that be you Michelle, I don’t know but I am giving you some things to think about.

Are Your Children Ready For This Change?

Back to your original question.  I can’t give you a magic answer on how to have your children make this transition.  What I can tell you is that they are not ready for this change right now.  Michelle, your kids parents just got divorced a week ago and you expect them to be ready to have a new family with this man – a stranger?  This should not be a forced situation rather one that is eased into and organic.  My question is why the hurry to rush to the altar? Why don’t you and your fiancee figure on a timeline that focuses on becoming family.  Allow your daughters to move towards him instead of thrusting this man into their world – one that is full of wounds right now.  You want them to embrace him and not reject him. Right now they are rejecting him.

So, my suggestions is going to come down to time.  Give the girls time to warm up to the idea of a new family.  Contact a family counselor who could provide you with a skill set on how to do so which may include working with the girls and your new husband-to-be.  I think with time and some gentle guidance you can have a great new family and the girls will be happier for it.

Let me know how it goes!!

Susan Shofer Divorce Consultant


Children Need Time to Adjust to New Family Environment

The most important thing to remember is that your kids need time to adjust to a new family environment. A step parent, and possibly the addition of step-siblings and other family members can be stressful. Read The Divorce Recovery Ladder to find resources you might need for your divorce.

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