Saturday 7 December 2019

Dear David Coleman: My teenage daughter is upset that her dad is remarrying

Photo posed
Photo posed
David Coleman

David Coleman

Q My ex-husband is getting remarried next summer, and he announced it to our children last week. They are aged 11 and 14. The 11-year-old seems to have taken it in his stride, but his older sister is devastated. She is already saying she won't go to the wedding, but I think she might regret that in years to come. Have you any advice to help her deal with the news?

A There are many, potentially powerful, feelings that your daughter may have about her father's decision to remarry. She may be upset that he has prioritised, or formalised, his love for his partner. Your daughter may fear that it might exclude or marginalise her in her relationship with her dad. She may worry that her dad will change after the marriage, or that his partner may feel an extended sense of power or influence that might not suit your daughter.

Irrespective of the feelings she has, she needs lots of your and, more importantly, her dad's time and support to talk about what the marriage means for her.

These conversations need to be open explorations of her feelings, not attempts to persuade her to just accept the decision that her dad has made.

If you can properly listen to her, you may come to understand why she feels so distraught. That, in turn, might help you to see if there is any reassurance that her dad can offer that can help to ease the distress.

Ultimately, her dad is entitled to make decisions about his own future. It is important that he knows that his decisions have consequences, and he needs to be mindful of his daughter's feelings.

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