Originally Posted by JSMa
It is everyone's house now... like or not. Things change... it's the way of the world.
Would not it be a better life lesson to help the children learn flexibility and adaptation now?? Nothing in life goes as planned... A tidy single home with no step anything is so far from normal these days... It's the sad truth... Instead of constantly sheltering the children and mourning for the loss of what their family was...
Why not teach them to look at life more positively and be able to rejoice in gaining MORE family to love and have good times with??
You cannot live in the past... it is not healthy in anyway shape or form. Bottom line... Mom and Dad got re-married, you have new sibings now, your family has grown, this is the present life now, and I think everyone should make a conscious effort into focusing on the positive of that, because I feel living and mourning the past will only screw the kids up more.
Just my humble opinion...
JSMa, I very much hear what you're saying, and I think it makes a lot of sense from an adult perspective. However, I just don't think you can try to shoehorn this into the mind of an 11-yo and expect it to work. I hear a lot of "just get over it, just deal with it", etc., in your post, but many people -- and many children in particular -- do not let go of love and its symbols that easily. If you try to force them you invite damage, long-lasting anger, and broken relationships. They will mourn as long as they mourn. It doesn't sound like m_a's skids dwell on it, but if the loss is there it's there.
My daughter is five; she's generally a determined and positive little soul, but she quietly mourns her broken family, even though no one has told her it's broken or intimated that there's something wrong with it, and even though she can't remember living with both parents. (This is not at all uncommon -- in fact it's so common that it's why I was willing to stay married to a man who made my life a living hell.) Last night, coming back from her father's house, we were talking about how nice it was that she felt like both houses were hers, and we talked about a comment her friend made, to the effect that she wished she had two houses to go to, too.
My daughter said, "Does she want her parents to be apart?! That's just wrong.
I have to tell her, she doesn't know. She wouldn't want her parents to be apart and have to go back and forth all the time. She just would not want it. She doesn't know what it's like."
Me: "It's not good?"
DD: "No! Because all the time I'm missing one of my parents!"
Me: "And that's not good."
DD: "No. it. is. not."
Me: "How is it not good?"
Me: "A little, or very?"
DD: "I'm always sad
Me: "Very sad?"
DD: "No -- always -- I am always a corner of sad
She wants both parents together. And it's a reasonable desire. Who am I to tell her to get over it, be cheerful, live in the present? This is her present. Her parents live in different houses, she goes from place to place, and she can't have them both at once, which is all she really wants. We don't talk much about it, but sometimes she volunteers, and I know it's there. She's a little too bright to be comforted by ideas like "But you have two houses!" and "But lots of kids' parents don't live together!" and "But we both love you!" It's one she will eventually have to work out on her own, maybe with the help of her therapist and other family or friends, maybe not. But in the meantime, though I won't encourage her to dwell on it, I certainly won't try to negate the sorrow's reality, or tell her it's unhealthy, or do things to poke it in the eye. It's a real thing, and it's hers.
It does sound like m_a and her dh are working with all four kids to try to bring them together as a family, but you cannot erase children's memory. I would also think that the fact that m_a's children live elsewhere every other week reinforces the sense of "this is my house".
I hear you too on the fact that it's potentially damaging to m_a's children, which is why I think it's important that they have their own space, that's really theirs, asap. The rest of the house, though...I do think it will have to go slowly, unless m_a and her husband want serious trouble with one or more children, and deep resentment. It's an unfortunate consequence of having moved into someone else's house.
I would really suggest having a family mediator/counselor in all of this, because every other party is an interested party.