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How to handle your child not liking a new spouse

On Behalf of | Feb 15, 2023 | Family Law |

It’s common for children to dislike their parent’s new spouse, whether it’s yours or your ex’s. Illinois requires divorced parents to follow a co-parenting plan, which typically outlines rules for taking turns looking after their child. Although it’s important to respect your ex’s time with the kids, you should be aware of warning signs of abuse.

Don’t jump to conclusions

When your child doesn’t like your ex’s new spouse, you might worry that they’re a bad person. This isn’t necessarily the case. Your child might need time to find acceptance that their parents aren’t going to be together.

Ask the right questions

Asking your child the right questions about why they don’t like their new step-parent will help clue you in to whether they’re struggling to adjust or there’s mistreatment going on. Setting aside time for you and your child makes it easier for them to open up to you. You could take them to their favorite restaurant or play a game with them.

Validate their feelings

Listening to your child’s reasoning and showing compassion for how they feel helps keep the door to important conversations open. If you tell them their reason for disliking the new spouse is silly or unfounded, they are more likely to become closed off. You can reassure them that their other parent’s new spouse isn’t to blame for your divorce while still showing an understanding of their pain.

Discuss minor issues with your ex

If your child isn’t happy about a routine, lack of routine or another habit of their new step-parent, then you could discuss it with your ex and their spouse. To help the conversation go smoothly, you may want to avoid directly saying that your child doesn’t like them. Maintaining a collaborative and solution-oriented approach encourages everyone to work on a solution rather than mistaking the discussion as an attack.

Collect evidence

In cases of abuse, save any evidence of mistreatment that you have to prepare for taking legal action. Emotional abuse might be harder to prove, so you could take your child to a therapist to gather evidence.

Children often find it challenging to adjust to their parents remarrying. It could trigger heartache over your divorce again. Other possible reasons for disliking the new spouse could be a personality clash or mistreatment.