My children are 11yo girl, 8yo boy, 6yo boy (I also have a baby girl from the new marriage). Their dad and I split about 6 years ago.
11 months after he moved out he had a baby with his new wife. 2 more babies followed. She brought three children of her own to the marriage. So my children, aside from each other and my daughter, have:
13yo stepsister and 10yo stepsister, Best friends and age peers of my oldest.
7yo stepbrother, best friend and age peer of my boys.
4yo, 3yo, and 1yo "half" siblings.
My kids are proud of their large family and love the camaraderie they find at their dad's. They identify as members of a big family. They love their stepmother, though their relationship with their dad is a bit rocky. This has been their life, since they were 5, 3, and 1 year old.
Their stepmother moved out this weekend, taking the 6 kids with her who aren't my kids. I have not talked with my children about this; they're at their dad's until Friday.
Can anyone help me best support them as they move through this? It is, of course, possible that dad and stepmom will work out their differences, but dad is not a warm and fuzzy kind of guy; he's a reasonable father but not a skilled parent, and as they are not close emotionally, I'm just worried about them alone with him in what is a very different home than they know and love (they're used to the hustle and chaos and fun of a large family).
I haven't experienced this, but a lack of personal experience has never stopped me from dishing out advice.
There's nothing you can do, besides maintaining a peaceful and happy home for them when they're with you and reassuring them that you and DH are not planning to break up THAT home. You realize yourself that your ex is no treat to have as a husband, and apparently his new wife came to the same conclusion. She may not be the last stepmom who comes along, and your kids are just stuck with that situation. I'm sorry. Love on them, be affectionate with your DH in front of them, and do everything you can to make them feel secure in your home.
I haven't personally experienced but I do have one cousin who managed to keep her kids in contact with their 1/2 siblings after her divorce so I know it's possible.
My cousin simply took her ex. husband out of the equation. She called up his 1st wife and they discussed the issue and both felt that it was in the best interest of the boys (1st wives two, and her two) to keep them connected as well as they could. So together they planned visits and kept each other informed about the lives of the kids.
The ex. wives will never be great friends but they do manage a very cordial relationship for the kids. The older two boys were at my cousin's wedding to her current husband. She and the younger two were at the oldest boy's high school graduation, etc.
I think if you want to maintain these relationships the first step is to talk to the children's mother.
If you are on good terms with stepmom... can you talk to her about having the kids still get together, despite the marital issues?
As for your kids' relationship with their Dad? I have little offer as my two have issues with theirs. Which I actually plan to post about later, when I get home from work.
I don't have any personal experience to add, either. (I must say I'm surprised that no one seems to, since statistically 2nd marriages are even more likely to break up, than 1st.)
But my heart goes out to you, watching your kids go through this and not being able to do anything.
There was a brief period when I worried that my ex and his wife might break up. She's a great step-mom and my kids are attached to her entire extended family. I had every intention of continuing to get them together with her and her relatives, if my ex didn't make the effort. At least when kids' own parents break up, they're usually guaranteed continued relationships with both sides. The uncertainty of that, with a step-parent, must really feel rotten! So, see what your ex does, first. But consider being the one to maintain the connections, yourself.
The story is unfolded and it's ridiculously convoluted, and stepmom is doing what I've heard called "poisoning the well." My heart is broken for my kids and I'm more than a bit worried. I don't want to post the details all up publicly out of respect for their privacy. Thanks for the advice. I'm going to start seeking out some experienced social workers and therapists to help the kids and I navigate this soap opera. :(
I've been through this- this has been my life for the last year. My Husband of 5 years (together for 9) left me because he "didn't love me anymore" last year. I had a 9 year old (now 10 year old) stepdaughter, who I was in her life since she was 13 months old, raised her since she was almost three. We were so close. My Husband was the only Dad my son ever knew, from the time he was 6 years old. He's 15 now, was 14 at the time of the breakup. My (ex) Husband is in denial- my son has problems because "he's a teenager and has Asperger's", not because he had his family ripped from him, and my stepdaughter "is thriving". My stepdaughter has learned not to complain if she misses up- Daddy leaves people who cause issues. But when she on occasion gets to see us, you can tell how much she misses us- she literally clings to us when it's time to go. My son alternates between bending over backward trying to do things he thinks will please his Dad, and literally throwing tantrums about how much he hates his Dad and how his Dad ruined his life. Both children have lost their sibling relationship- they used to be best friends, but they only spend quality time together once every couple of months now. It has been Hell on me and the children. Does it have to be? No. If me and my (ex) Hubby worked together to make sure the children maintained their relationships with eachother and with each parent they "lost", then it would be rough, like any divorce, but the children would be alright.
If the original poster's ex can't get along with his soon-to-be ex, then is the Stepmom and Mom close enough to make sure that the children get to remain in contact with eachother and with the Stepmom?
No advice really except maybe it has to be up to you and the other mom, if you get along, to make sure the kids see each other and continue their relationships no matter what their parents relationships with each other are and know that it is best for the kids and that's what matters. (((Hugs)))
This was what I was going to suggest. Yes I have been through a similar experience. My DSS is now 15 but when he was about 7 (right when his dad and I got married) his mom and stepdad split. He had several stepbrothers close in age and were all friends. They even played baseball on the same team as the dad was the coach. Anyway, they have stayed friends and DSS mom is still friends with her ex. Keeping contact is one way of making sure the kids maintain a relationship. Not sure how YOU will facilitate this but talking about it with her would be a start.