How to Tell the Kids About Your Engagement

It's an exciting time for you, but may be filled with mixed emotions for the children.

Finding love again is a beautiful thing, but there is no denying that the process can be a little tricky if one or both parties have children from a previous relationship.

Relationship Advice
Photo: Laurie Bailey Photography

Finding love again is a beautiful thing, but there is no denying that the process can be a little tricky if one or both parties have children from a previous relationship. This is never more evident than after an engagement, when a parent tells a child they are getting married again. Many times, the child (even if they are now an adult) may have always harbored a secret wish that their parents would get back together. For widows and widowers, no matter how long it’s been since their spouse has passed, they may find that their children resent the future stepparent as an attempt to replace the parent they lost. That’s why, no matter how much your children may seem to like your significant other (or how your beloved’s children seem to like you), it’s important to proceed with caution when sharing your happy news. 

smiling flower girl wearing flower crown, how to tell your kids that you're engaged
Photo by Brett Hickman Photographers; Floral Design by Flowers by Cina

No matter what, the children must be the first to hear the news, even before your own parents. If there is an ex involved on either side, inform them as well. It’s not fair for your kids to have to deliver the news. The parent should tell their child on their own, so the child is free to react naturally. This can be done before the engagement happens, if you know things are heading in that direction. Younger children may not fully understand what marriage means, so be prepared to answer any and all questions. For older kids, choose a time when they aren't in a bad mood or stressed out. Of course, with teenagers that can be difficult; however, you know your children, so use your best judgment on when a good moment might be. No matter their ages, explain if there will be any major changes – such as a move or living with new stepsiblings – as well as focusing on what will stay the same. Try to stay positive while telling them, in order to set the tone. Also, mention that you'd love for them to be involved in the wedding since this could help get them excited, and they'll also understand they won't be left behind in your new family.

Many parents understandably put off introducing their significant others to their children, but once you're approaching an engagement, it's important that your new partner isn't a stranger. A nice gesture is for the future stepparent to "propose" to the children – and sometimes they can be in on the real proposal, if they have been sufficiently prepared for the new change in your relationship. That said, it’s important not to force a relationship between the future stepparent and the children. If civil and cordial is the best they can do, that's fine. It may soften in time, but putting pressure may likely cause resentment.

For more advice, find your guide to a second wedding here, and learn everything you need to know about junior bridesmaids here.  

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