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Dear Dr. Yael,

I am the original writer who wrote the original letter about keeping the details of my divorce secret that people responded to. As I saw in your column this week, this woman Michelle seemed critical of me keeping my ex-spouse’s secret. Unfortunately, she does not understand my plight. My ex-husband supports me generously and is very good to our child. I am invested in keeping a peaceful divorce. She has good points, but she should never judge someone when she hasn’t been in their shoes.




Dear Dr. Yael,

My husband and I lost our spouses. We remarried and now have children from before and children together. We both try to be loving and involved with all the children. However, there is so much sibling rivalry and so much jealousy between the children. They all love the younger children, but they feel they are favored since they are the children born to both of us. Please give us ideas on how to deal with this situation.

A Mom of a Blended Family


Dear Mom of a Blended Family,

Jealousy in all families is par for the course, but it is understandable that it is exacerbated by your unique situation. I don’t think the solution is different for you, though, than I would recommend to anyone else. When kids are jealous we need to give them extra love and attention. I’m sure it’s not easy, but can you take some time to spend individually with each of your children? The older children, especially, seem to need the extra special attention. Maybe you can pick each one of them up at lunch once a month to go out and then bring them back to school? If that’s not feasible, maybe you can take each one out once a month at night or just spend time talking one on one or playing a game together. Younger children take up a lot of our time and energy, but older children need just as much time and energy. I know what I’m recommending is asking A LOT; however, you will see a huge improvement if you and your husband try to give each of the older ones special time and attention.

It is also important to remember that these older children have been through a lot! Losing a parent is very difficult and even though they are so fortunate to have rebuilt their family, it is still a big challenge for them. If you feel any of the kids would benefit from professional help, do not hesitate to get it from them. Perhaps they need more time to work through their tremendous loss or maybe they just need a neutral party to help them process their feelings and/or what they need. Maybe a therapist can help them see how much they are loved and cherished and also help guide you and your husband as to what you can do to help your children feel how much you both love them.

Lastly, be cheap on your criticism and generous with your praise. These children (really all children) need a lot of positivity to help build them up and remind them how special they are. Try not to criticize or yell, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t consequences to behavior or clear boundaries and structure. Children thrive with structure and clear boundaries and coupled with a lot of love, attention, and praise (with the help of Hashem), your children will soar. Also, remember that no one is perfect and you are allowed to make mistakes. We all yell sometimes, but try to work on remaining as positive as you can. If you feel that you “messed up,” an apology can go a long way! May Hashem give you and your husband the koach you need to raise your beautiful family. Hatzlacha!


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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to [email protected]. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at