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Should my new spouse have a say in what my children do?

When you remarry, it is normal to wonder about the role that your new spouse will play in your children's lives. For example, what say, if any, should the new spouse have in what your children do? Does the spouse weigh in on rules? Do you expect your spouse to help pay for your children?

There are no easy, cut-and-dried answers. What is best depends on many factors and can change considerably in just a short time. Here are some things to think about as you ponder this question.

What your ex's family setup is like

If your ex has a romantic partner or spouse, particularly a longtime one, then your children may be used to how they handle things. For instance, if the children are accustomed to their stepparent asking them to do chores and obliging these requests, they might not give a second thought to your spouse doing the same.

What the relationship between your spouse and the children is like

Of course, a lot depends greatly on if your spouse and children have a good relationship. If things are still a bit frosty or awkward, you may prefer to retain all or most of the disciplinary/rule-giving authority. In fact, you may still prefer to keep all say in this domain even if your spouse and children get along smashingly. It can be best not to risk that kind of rapport, depending on the situation.

Age of children

There is some (much!) truth to the notion that many teenagers do not listen to their elders. If your teens chafe at your authority, they are likely to treat your new spouse even worse. On the other hand, younger children are more likely to see your new spouse as someone in charge.

It is important to discuss your expectations regarding parenting and finances before you get married. Approach any financial requests with caution. Despite the breakup or divorce, you and your ex remain the legal parents of your children. Your spouse may resent having to help pay for children that he or she gets no say in, so it may a good idea to carve out something that your new spouse can get involved in.


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