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I am recently divorced from my husband, after a very bitter divorce process. He made the choice to leave our family, after a 20-year marriage, and move in with a woman he worked with, and help her raise her children.
Our kids are with him every other weekend, and they hate going over to his house. The other children are not disciplined, are constantly picking fights with our kids, and repeat the negative things my ex says about me within the new family unit.
This is driving a wedge between our kids and their father, and they beg me not to make them go over there anymore. I don’t know how to approach him about it, because the situation is still so tender for our kids, and they don’t understand why they have to be with him in the first place, if he “left us for them.”
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The simple answer to this question is: you can't. Unfortunately we cannot force other people to change or to adopt a discipline style that they are unwilling to adopt. If your ex and his new partner are willing to work with you, you can try family coaching to prepare a parenting plan that you all agree on. It can be very difficult for children in blended families, especially when some kids move between homes while others stay with one parent permanently. Your ex's step-kids are comfortable in their space and from their perspective your kids are the outsiders.
The best thing that you can do is to build your kid's resilience and teach them healthy ways of coping and building relationships. A counsellor or therapist will be able to help your kids recognise the fact that the negative behavior of your ex's step-kids are a reflection of their own emotions and insecurities.
If your kid's are really resistant to going to their dad, can you find activities that they can do with him outside of the home? Maybe if they have some alone time with their dad, it will help them to rebuild their relationship.