Jesse James: Strain of Divorce for Daughter Sunny

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Now that Jesse James is planning nuptials with tattoo artist Kat Von D, his youngest daughter, Sunny, 7, is preparing for stepmom No. 3.

The motorcycle man confirmed to The Associated Press last week that rumors concerning his engagement to Von D were true. It will be marriage number four for James.

His many marriages have kept the notorious biker bad boy in the spotlight, but the multiple wives and exes may be taking their toll on his youngest child, who at age 7 may be bounced between her biological mother, ex-con Janine Lindemulder; the mother of her half-siblings, Karla James; Sandra Bullock, who was Sunny's primary caregiver until her divorce from James in June 2010; and Kat Von D.

"Divorce is always disruptive for kids and it's an unfortunate situation for kids who have to go through this more than once," says Dr. Alan Hilfer, chief psychologist at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. "This kid's going to be in for a bumpy ride."

Calls to Bullock's and James' representatives, and Lindemulder were not returned.

Though Sunny may be a high-profile case of a child with "multiple mommies," given that 46 percent of marriages in the U.S. involve a remarriage for one or both spouses, it's not uncommon for today's children and teens to face the adjustment of having one or more step parents.

ABC News asked child and adolescent psychologists to weigh in on how to smooth the ride for kids making such a transition.

Shaken Stability: Why Kids of Divorcees Act Out

One of the biggest issues for kids when dealing with any divorce, whether it's the first for the third, is the loss of stability and routine in their lives, psychologists say.

"The basic principle is that young children need to have stability in their lives, in particular regarding their caretakers," says Dr. William Bernet, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Vanderbilt University. "They need to form trusting relationships with those people, whether that's a mom, a grandparent, a stepdad or even a babysitter. But in order to do that, they have to have that relationship over an extended period of time."

But when kids face multiple "transitions" from one marriage to another, one stepparent to another, the continuity of the relationship with caregivers is broken, says Robert Emery, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and author of "The Truth About Children and Divorce."

"A remarriage isn't an hour at a wedding, it takes an adjustment [to the new parent] of two years or even longer," Emery says. "When you talk about multiple transitions, you're talking about a very large portion of a child's life lived in a state of uncertainty."

Children may become confused about authority and be unsure of what the new "rules" are going to be with the new parent. This can lead to rebellious behavior as the child resents the disruption this new parent poses in their lives, experts say.

But acting out isn't the only way that kids will show that they're struggling: They may become depressed and mourn the loss of the previous caregiver who has been cast off by their parent, they may become withdrawn, they might even become super well-behaved.

Some kids will become very well-behaved, Emery notes, but their apparent resilience belies their anxiety.

"They try trying to be the mediators, but there can be a lot going on beneath the surface," he says.

"As remarkably resilient as some kids are, for others who are more vulnerable, the disruption of divorce will be a disaster," says Hilfer, and hence parents and other caregivers need to be dedicated to being "child-centric" in the way they handle the transition.

Advice for Concerned Parents: Navigating the Divorce

Obviously, the first piece of advice psychologists and psychiatrists would give to parents is to take things slowly, both for their sake and the sake of their children, and not remarry quickly.

"The adults in that situation are vulnerable and prone to making mistakes" immediately following a divorce, Emery says.

But when the time comes for remarriage, one of the most important concerns for the child is to keep as many routines as possible intact and to allow them to maintain important relationships in their lives while gently fostering a new relationship with the new step parent.

"Another issue here is that it's very sad for the child who is very attached to the [former] stepparent to lose them," says Bernet. "When it happens over and over again, it can become difficult and the child soon catches on that they cannot trust people to stick around. They become reluctant to form relationships."

So it would ill-advised to expect the child to be cut off completely from that previous caregiver. It would be just as misguided however, for the new caregiver to expect an instant relationship with child.

"The biological parent needs to be the provider of love and discipline, and the stepparent is better off looking at their role as being an adult friend, at least at first," Emery says. "You think you're going to go in guns blazing and expect instant love and be an instant authority in the child's life, then you are setting everyone up for failure."

And while the child adjusts, the goal of the primary guardian "is to maintain the kid's routines as best they can," Hilfer says.

"You need to give the kid the hope that they'll have some dependability," he says. "The primary parent has to be able to offer that to the kid and all the things that go with that: stable living situation, friendships, school ... emotional and loving support and, probably, plus some therapy."

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