Jesse James' Kids Getting New Stepmom


Hoenig, who got along with her stepfather just fine, said she only had to endure living with her stepmother for two years before she left for college. But even now, she said, the four parents find it difficult to get along when all four are in a room together.

Serial parenting, however, isn't always a bad thing for children. Mariesa Stokes, an account executive in Alabama, had two stepmothers and two stepfathers growing up, and said that though she was confused at first, she came to view it as an advantage.

"They always put my needs first in the relationships and were first and foremost always there for me. I could go to different ones for different things, which gave me a lot more options than kids who had just two parents."

As a stepmother herself now, Stokes said the experience of multiple stepparents gave her a lot of valuable insight. "My many role models taught me that my commitment is to my two stepsons and not only to their father," she said.

Jeff Brown, a Harvard psychologist and author of "The Competitive Edge," said this sort of collaborative serial parenting is essential if children are to feel safe and secure, and to reduce the stress of so much change.

"Some parents get caught up in conflict and can be self-centered, but you must make an effort to be civil no matter what. You don't want your kids caught in the middle," he said.

It's also important to pay attention to the stealthier psychological effects a "stepmob" can have on children. For example, many adults fail to notice the accumulated sense of small losses some children may experiencel.

"Each transition can mean a new school, new house and a new extended family, which often means leaving the old ones behind," Deal said. "Parents can underestimate how significant these losses are for the child because they are busy getting on with their own lives.

Preserve Ties to Departing Stepparent

A lot of thought must be given to the reshuffling of relationships as well. Unless there is a clear reason to break the connection with an exiting stepparent, Brown advises preserving ties to allow children some consistency. "If the parent suddenly up and departs, it can potentially create abandonment issues."

Brown said that integrating a new parental relationship into the mix should be done as gradually as possible to allow all parties to become comfortable and familiar with one another.

That means Von D should take some time to ease into the James' family dynamics long before she and Jesse walk down the aisle. "The plan must be thoughtful, planned and strategic," said Brown, "to let kids sort out their allegiances."

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