Why do some children have difficulty accepting a parent's remarriage? Among the possible reasons, according to child psychiatrist Dr. Carl Feinstein and clinical psychologist Arthur Bodin:
1. Fantasies. They hope their parents will eventually get back together. In some divorce situations, the parents still see each other to dicuss finances and child-related decisions. This may lend credibility to the child's idea that some day they may be back together in the same house.
2. Guilt. If youngsters have heard arguments over child-related matters they may have the impression the divorce could have been avoided if they had been better kids and their parents hadn't fought about them.
3. Dishonesty. A parent introduces a companion as "only a friend," or tells them "I have no plans to remarry." The youngsters hear the engagement announcement and are caught by surprise. They feel left out, unimportant and perhaps distrustful. In addition, they may not have had sufficient time to get acquainted with the new partner.
4. Conflicting loyalties. The children fear the new spouse will try to replace their natural mother or father (the parent not involved in the remarriage).
5. Not enough time. The remarriage news is sprung on the youngsters too close to the divorce. The children have not adjusted sufficiently to the breakup of their family unit.
6. Outside opposition. The other parent or a grandparent opposes the integration of this person into the family and lets the kids know it.
7. The current relationship suspected as cause of the breakup. Or the children may believe this to be so, possibly encouraged in the idea by the other parent.
8. Discipline. The new partner assumes an active role in the discipline process faster than the children are ready to accept, or makes it clear that he/she has no interest in this aspect of family life because he/she has already raised a family.
9. Decreased attention. During the courtship process, the parent may spend less time at home with the children, which may be interpreted as less love for them.
10. Stepsiblings. They dislike the children of the new partner (or feel they dislike them). They may think the new partner favors his/her own children. The courtship process should ideally include enough time for the children to get to know each other.
11. From bad to worse. The natural mother or father was abusive, unkind or disinterested and the children fear that their stepmother or stepfather will be the same.
12. Stepparent myths. They have read too many stories about ugly stepparents and fear they are true.