Till death do us part, or unless we decide to call it quits! Welcome to the new disposable marriages. Today we can expect to have more marriages than children; isnÕt it unbelievable?

This is the story of a lovely couple, Ron and Rachel, who were married to each other when they were 25 years old. As they approached their 35th birthdays they had two children, Sue, age seven, and Sam, age four. Unfortunately, they would not be together to see Sue turn eight because Rachel had filed for a divorce.

Then one day Rachel had found her true love, again. His name was David and he found his soul mate for the third time. Rachel had custody of her two children and David shared custody of his two children with his second wife.

What are the odds that David and RachelÕs marriage will be forever? The statistics show that 50% of first marriages end in divorce and 66% of second marriages when children are involved end up breaking apart. The odds are not exactly in their favor.

LetÕs get back to our love story. Over the next few years many issues and situations came up for David and Rachel to handle. Here is a sample:

? Discipline. ÒYouÕre not my father.Ó
? Chores. ÒYou never give your children any chores when they come over.Ó
? Time alone. ÒThe kids just walk in on us, there are no boundaries.Ó
? Visitation. ÒDavid expects me to love them just because theyÕre his children.Ó
? The ex. ÒWhen she calls, he jumps.Ó

These annoyances are beginning to escalate; what can David and Rachel do to avoid another visit to the lawyerÕs office? Is there anything they can do that works?

The answer is yes! By using the teaching, and coaching methods of the Step Family Foundation, Rachel and David have an excellent chance of having a successful marriage. The Step Family Foundation has been going for 30 years and has an 84% success rate of keeping couples together, according to a Fordham University study.

Rachel wants to be one big happy family like her first marriage was. She expects David to replace Ron as the childrenÕs father. She also wants her children to treat David as if he were their father. Meanwhile, David just wants peace. What is wrong with Rachel having these wants?

First, these are some of the myths that lead to a 66% divorce rate for second marriages with children. Second, her new family will never be the biological family that her first marriage was. Step families have there own set of dynamics and behaviors. Understanding these dynamics is critical for all stepfamilies. Lets face it; David will never be the father of RachelÕs children from her first marriage. He can be their stepfather, a loved one, or a mentor but not their father. There is no replacing the biological parent and David would be much better off showing respect towards the childrenÕs father.

Here are a few suggestions for Rachel when it comes to handling the above annoyances.
Discipline Ð Whenever it is possible Rachel should deliver the discipline, not David. If David does deliver any consequences then these need to be discussed beforehand with Rachel. This way there will not be any problem with David exceeding his authority or being too hard. A united front will give the children a sense of security. The next time David hears, ÒYouÕre not my fatherÓ the easy answer without letting his buttons to be pushed will be to say, ÒThank you for sharing.Ó

Chores Ð These are considered contributions to the family. The two parents must be on the same page with who does what chores and what the
consequences are for not doing their chores. When DavidÕs children visit they also must have chores to do. After all, they do live in this house and just because it is on a part time basis does not mean everyone should wait on them or attend to all of their needs. All of the children need predictability, order, and a sense of security.

Time alone Ð Being able to set your boundaries is a life skill. Teaching your children how to set boundaries will benefit them in all areas of their life. Begin by closing your bedroom door and nobody enters without permission. This must go both ways; knock before you walk into their bedroom.

Visitation Ð As mentioned above, predictability and order are very important when the children come to visit. Visitation must be ritualized for everyoneÕs benefit. The children need to know where to put their belongings, where they can sit, where they will sleep. For the child, the need to know what is expected from him or herself and to know the weekendÕs schedule is critical.
The ex Ð There are ex-spouses but never ex-parents. The need to get along and to co-parent is needed. The divorced couple does not need to discuss their personal lives but they do need to discuss their child. David does not need to jump and react immediately whenever his ex calls.

By communicating beforehand and agreeing on everyoneÕs roles, chores, and discipline issues, there is no reason that David and Rachel cannot stay married.

To learn much more about setting boundaries, handling chores, discipline, or any parenting issues please contact us at the number below.

Derek Randel is a coach for the Step Family Foundation and has a program called Parent Smart From The Heart. For consultations or general questions he can be reached at 866-89-SMART, info@randelconsulting.com or visit his web site www.randelconsulting.com Derek also is the Author of The Parent Manual and Bittersweet Moments.

Author's Bio: 

Derek Randel and Dr. Gail Randel have two teenage children. They learned many valuable lessons on how to enjoy the roller coaster of parenting.

Derek has been seen on FoxÕs ÒThe OÕReilly FactorÓ with Bill OÕReilly and the CBS Morning Show with Mary Williams. He shares his 12 years experience as a high school and middle school educator and has been nominated for a Disney American Teacher Award. He also works as a step family coach through the step family foundation in New York City.

Dr. Randel, is a practicing Anesthesiologist in Chicago. She applies the tools that she has learned on love, the importance of touch, and communication skills to benefit her family, patients, and colleagues.

They co-authored ÒThe Parent ManualÓ just in case your child did not come with one and their latest book, Bittersweet Moments, Questions and Answers about Parenting and life.