I am divorced with two children, a 10 year old boy and a 9 year old girl. I divorced when my children were very young, but I saw them quite often even though their mother systematically sought the opposite. I got married again four years ago and with my new wife we have a 4 year old girl. My problem is that my kids from my previous marriage refuse to have a relationship with their half-sister, no matter how hard I try to bring them together. How can I manage it? How do I get the siblings together?
When a couple divorces, the children are forced to face a very difficult situation and often fail to understand the reasons that led to it. Their lives change radically, their communication with one parent, who is usually the father is limited and children may feel abandoned, rejected, angry, or guilty.
Over time, they learn to manage the new situation, but this also depends to a large extent on factors that do not always have to do with the children themselves.
One such factor is their mother’s relationship with their father after the divorce. If this relationship is not harmonious, the children may feel confused. When one parent speaks badly in front of the child about the other or when one parent feels wronged and tries to take revenge on the other by depriving him of communication with the child, then the child may find himself in a very painful state. He feels guilty towards the parent who does not see him because he rejects him but also towards the parent he is in favor of because he feels the absence of the other parent.
In fact, when one of the parents rebuilds his or her life, while the other does not and with a new member of the family, things become even more difficult.
To the already existing feelings is added the jealousy for the little sibling who not only has all the attention of the parent they are deprived of, but who also has both parents together, something that they have lost.
All this should be handled carefully and perhaps with the help of a specialist. However, there are some practical steps that may help.
The first and most important step is to improve your own relationship with your children. When they refuse to see their little sibling, they are actually expressing some feelings towards you. Approach them and listen to what they have to say to you, without dismissing or diminishing your feelings, without preaching or wanting to impose yourself on them. Build a stronger relationship with each of them separately and without forcing the presence of the child from your second marriage. See them outside of home, organize activities with them according to everyone’s interests, make your children feel safe and loved near you. Boost their self-esteem, emphasize what they do well and for what reasons, encourage your children to cultivate their talents.
The second step you may need to take is to improve your communication with your ex-wife, as this will make it easier for your children to accept the new situation in your life. If your current relationship with your ex-wife allows it, it might help to talk to her and ask for her help.
Finally, talk to a relative or friend you trust and ask them to tell you what you did wrong in your relationship with your ex and with your children. It will help you to understand a great deal more and you might not repeat the mistakes of the past in the present.
Stavroula Tsoutsa is a Certified Holistic Professional Life Coach, ICF ACC, Certified Heartmath Coach/Mentor and Trainer, and Certified Points of You Practitioner.