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after-divorce  :: parenting

Stepfamily Talk: Which House for Kids, Stepkids?

Stepfamily Talk: Which House for Kids, Stepkids?

Remarriage: Should We Buy a House to Combine Families or Live in Old One?


Dear Lisa,

I’m the father of two, and I recently became engaged to a mother of two. All our kids are younger than 12. We’re trying to decide whether we should all move into my house — which is big enough for everyone — or buy a new house. My kids and I lived in this house with their mother for many years. Living here would be much less expensive than buying a new house big enough for everyone.

Thanks for any suggestions you might have.

Engaged Dad

Dear Engaged Dad:

This is a good question. It’s generally not a good idea for a new stepfamily to move into a house that one of the families already lived in. In this case, your new wife and her kids will likely feel like the house is yours — not theirs. It’s often better to start in a new house. It’s a great idea to have kids get involved in choosing how to decorate the house.

However, it’s often too expensive or impractical to buy a new house. If you everyone does move into your house, it’s a good idea to ensure your new stepkids have spaces they can call their own. Encourage them to take part in decorating and furnishing their spaces. If you can afford it, you might want to buy some new furniture or artwork to make your home feel more like everyone’s home — rather than yours. If your neighborhood is new to your stepkids, be sure to introduce them to your neighbors and encourage them to take part in neighborhood activities, if possible.

In our own stepfamily, we bought a new house, then used some of each family’s furniture. Each child has his or her own bedroom, which he or she helped furnish. In our living room — the largest and most public room — we bought all new furniture. For more information about this topic, read this story: http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0427/p11s01-lifp.html

Good luck.


Lisa Cohn has written for the Christian Science Monitor, Parenting, Mothering, Your Stepfamily Magazine and other publications. She writes an advice column for Philly Women (www.philly.com) and is the co-host of Stepfamily Talk Radio (www.stepfamilytalkradio.com.) She is the co-author of One Family, Two Family, New Family: Stories and Advice for Stepfamilies and The Step-Tween Survival Guide and Lisa has been quoted about divorce and stepfamilies by the Associated Press, Washington Post, Time Magazine, msn.com and other media outlets.

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