Shrink Rap: New Spouses, Older Children

A Telluride local, Dr. Paul Hokemeyer is an internationally recognized expert on treating the clinical issues that arise at the intersection of relationships and behavioral health. (Scroll down for more on Dr. Paul.)

Dr. Paul was recently interviewed by Rick Asa of the Chicago Tribune on the subject of the challenges facing new and younger spouses with older children in the mix.

Dr. Paul Hokemeyer

Dr. Paul Hokemeyer


When a parent remarries a much younger spouse, the main dynamic that comes into play with adult children is sibling rivalry, says Paul Hokemeyer, a Manhattan-based marriage and family therapist.

Intellectually, adult children understand a stepparent is not a brother or sister, but intuitively, Hokemeyer says, they are pulled into destructive relational patterns with them.

“At the top of the list are resentments, as well as overt and covert hostility,” he says. “This is because children are hard-wired to compete with their brothers and sisters for their parents’ emotional and physical support. When they see their parent devoting his emotional and financial resources to his spouse, the children feel betrayed and threatened. Eventually, they can make peace with the situation, but it takes a while, often decades, for full acceptance of their parents’ marital choice to take hold in their psyche…”

Continue reading here for more from Dr. Paul.

More about Dr. Paul Hokemeyer:

Dr. Paul is frequently quoted in a host of media outlets including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He serves on the panel of experts for the “Dr. Oz Show” and is a Fox News analyst. Dr. Paul served on the board of directors for the New York Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, is a clinical member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and received his certification as a clinical trauma professional. He also holds a law degree.

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