Children's fairy tales — take Cinderella, for example — are riddled with stories of the evil stepmother. In reality, evil stepmothers are probably the exception.
Nonetheless, second marriages with children have a divorce rate of more than 70 percent.
What are the problems? For beginners, the children don't pick their parent's new spouse. They usually don't have a say.
While it may be the agenda of the adults to have everyone love each other, that doesn't necessarily happen.
Things can be fine when daddy has a new "friend." But when the marriage deal is sealed all hell breaks loose. That’s when the "friend" becomes an omnipresent interloper with power.
Stepmothers who are wonderfully loving might actually have a harder time making the new family arrangement work. Why? Because all that warmth often causes strong inner emotional conflict in the stepchildren.
On one hand they enjoy feeling loved. But at the same time they have a sense of loyalty to their biological mother — who at times does not give them the green light to get along with Daddy's new wife.
Rivalry behaviors between ex-wife and stepmother can be ferocious and relentless. The stepmother feels the ex-wife is treading on her new turf when in reality the stepmother is the invader in a pre-existing family.
Mr. Wonderful is in the middle, wanting to make his new marriage work while trying to keep the mother of his children happy so that she will interfere less with his relationship with the children. This is often a lose-lose situation.
When mothers call me about divorcing, I always warn them that if they divorce, their ex-husband will have visitation and the ability to bring new women into their children's lives.
I ask them to think strongly about whether their desire for divorce is ultimately worth the cost. I frankly say the same to men, warning that they will in effect become "uncle," while some other man is with the children full time. This realization often helps people think about repairing the marriage instead of ending it.
In Barbara Dafoe Whitehead's classic book, "The Divorce Culture," she points out that all of these factors and more make second marriages difficult and contributes to their high divorce rate. That means that kids from already-broken homes go through it again.
I recommend that people neither date nor marry someone who has minor children. The stress and difficulties are supremely difficult to overcome.
Does it sometimes work out? Yes, of course, but that’s the exception. If you had a 70 percent chance of dying in a particular situation, would you choose to be in that situation? I have never heard anyone answer yes. So don't put children in that situation, either.
Dr. Laura (Laura Schlessinger) is a well-known radio personality and best-selling author. She appears regularly on many television shows and in many publications. Read more reports from Dr. Laura — Click Here Now.
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