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The very concept of your ex's other children can be enormously challenging, whether it is a newborn or adult children with their own children and careers. The first time you see them, or learn of their existence, you may be flooded with strange and unfamiliar emotions. The fact that they hold some kind of place in your ex's heart, mind, or pocketbook can be threatening. And when you perceive or experience your primary relationship with your ex partner to be in danger, or his relationship with your children potentially weakened, then it makes sense that you would quite normally think about ways — rational or irrational — to protect your own.

Just because it makes sense doesn't mean, however, that you let your inner demons rule. You can try to take the high road and ignore any negative feelings you have about these children. But there is often a deep and primal response that needs to be acknowledged. Because whatever your relationship with your ex happens to be, your fears regarding your standing or security with him has to affect you. Sometimes at least saying to yourself that you are afraid can help calm you down. The reality is another child/children have come on the scene — and you are going to have to find a way that contains your worst fears.

Possibly, if you are able to imagine how you would like your ex's new partner to feel or behave with your children, then that may help. Thinking about things over which you have no control can be very crazy making if you let yourself get carried away with fears, doubts and suspicions.

The stepsiblings themselves may or may not be able to easily see their way to relate to each other — and it is unrealistic to expect them to immediately form a mutual bond of love, trust, and respect. Little steps over time is usually good advice and applies well here as well. Ideally, what you want to be able to do is foster in your own children a sense of security. No matter what happens, you remain there for them. To the best of your ability, build up their sense of security and safety with you as their primary source. 

If these new siblings find their way into your home, there need to be clear rules and consequences for behaviors that are consistent for all. But more importantly, remember you may be tested and repeatedly challenged for an infinite number of reasons. There may be judgmental accusations of "You're not being fair." Or "You don't know anything." Statements that declare your powerlessness such as, "You can't do anything to me" can certainly trigger negative emotions. Persistent whining or rebellious refusals are other ways to challenge your equilibrium. But, the really crucial thing to remember here is that the questions these new step-siblings have are the very same questions you have. The question is...Who will be there for me? And we all deserve though may not always have someone in that role.

 

Click the following to return a directory of articles and resource videos on Kids, Family and Divorce.

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