Remarriage with Children - Creating Good Beginnings
By Cathy Corcoran - 1st June 2011
This is a true story.*
There are pictures of young Amy on the wall and her name is spoken of lovingly; the scene painted sounds like a beautiful family. There are also wedding photos of a couple together. None of them include Amy.
The man is Amy’s dad, Daniel; the woman is her dad's fiancee. And this situation has my mind ticking.
Australian statistics indicate that for every marriage recorded, 1 in 3 are re-marriages.Of these re-marriages it has been found that nearly half included children under the age of 16 from previous marriages.
Amy has never lived with her dad and her parents were never properly ‘together’ but Daniel knows he's her biological father. They’ve had intermittent contact. Amy has had more contact with her paternal grandparents than her father. Daniel has a good job and came from a ‘respectable’ middle class family; he became Amy’s dad in his mid 20's while still living a carefree life. Daniel jet- setted overseas for a working holiday for a few years and had some contact with his daughter thanks to Skype and emails to Amy’s grandmother – Daniel’s mum. And all while romancing and developing a relationship with his current fiancee.
Amy didn’t have a chance to tug at her daddy's heart strings as he was trying to tie them to someone he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Did this have an impact on their attachment? I don’t know. As an outsider it is easy to judge, but we don’t know all the details.
Does Amy feel like a part of Daniel’s family when she wasn’t included in their new beginnings? Does this matter? I think it does. I think that to integrate a family successfully, inclusion should be the priority. The absence of Amy at such significant events can also set up the relationship between Amy and her step mother for failure and could even create a ‘competition’ for the love and affection of Daniel, the male that is central in both of their lives. To me, it makes it more likely that each relationship will feel like it has to be exclusive of the other.
What I do know is that there’s a little girl who is having her lifelong relationship with her father affected by his action or non-action. I also think it could eventually have a flow-on effect for the type of relationships Amy will have with males unless she becomes aware enough eventually to change that ingrained thought pattern. Other things concern me about Amy – how does this situation affect her self-esteem, and how she sees herself – and how does this affect her day to day behaviour?
There are actions that Daniel can take now to improve his relationship with Amy. What do you think he needs to know?
Have you remarried? What did you do about including your children in your wedding and new marriage? Does this matter? What was the outcome?
*names and situations changed.