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How do I tell my kids I want to remarry?

Lindsey in Seattle
Even if the kids love the woman in your life, the last thing they want is for you to replace their mom. So make sure they understand that she's not a replacement but a new friend.

Heather in Kittery
I would explain to your kids what marriage is. You also should reassure them that they will always have their relationship with Mommy, and that your new wife is an addition to the family. I would be prepared to give them extra attention as needed. Good luck!

Michelle in Lompoc
It can be hard telling this kind of news to children, but if you think that she's right for you, try this: Ask them how they'd feel about having another mom in the picture. Then tell them that you love this women and are going to marry her. But make sure that you listen to them and let them explain how they feel about the whole thing.

Brandy in Rosenhayn
You should just sit the kids down and ask them what they think of her. Point out all the cool, sweet things she does with them and then tell them that you would like her to be around to do those kinds of things every day as Daddy's wife and their stepmom. If they still see their birth mother they might like having two moms.

Kenneth N. Condrell, Ph.D.
That's an excellent question, R.P. Too many parents jump right into the conversation without much forethought.

To answer your question, I have to first explain how children view the remarriage of their parents.

When a parent decides to remarry, children abandon their fantasy that Mom and Dad will reconcile. The new reality is overwhelming: Their parents are really not getting back together. Children often feel sad at a parent's wedding, when this reality is underscored. As a father, you need to expect their sadness and understand that it's normal.

The prospect of remarriage makes some children worry that Dad will not have enough time for them with a new wife. They're also concerned that a stepparent will take over and start telling them what to do. Unfortunately, the fairy tale myth of the evil stepparent persists, and many kids believe it.

On the other hand, children may fear that they'll hurt their mom's feelings if they come to love a stepmother. As a result, their loyalty is conflicted. They wonder: Will I be letting my mom down if I like spending time with my dad's new wife?'

Now that you understand what kids go through, here are some ideas for discussing your marriage plans.

Sit down with all three children at the same time. Tell them that many parents get married again after a divorce. Then explain that after three years of dating your girlfriend, the two of you are talking about getting married.

At this point, stop and give your children a chance to absorb the information and ask questions. Tell them that you want to talk to them about any worries they may have.

After that, reassure them that you'll still have lots of time to be together, and that your new wife will not replace their Mom.

Finally, remind them that that you're still their dad, so you will still be in charge of raising them. Your new wife will help out, but you will still be the one to make the rules and decide when they should be rewarded and punished. Again, ask them if they have any questions or concerns.

After you have had this initial discussion, find some private one-on-one time with each child the following week. In this way you can further explore their feelings about your remarriage.

By the way, I strongly recommend that your future wife spend time with your children when you're not around. She needs to strengthen her relationship with them so they know that she loves them and enjoys their company.

I hope this helps. Good Luck!
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education