Posted on: Saturday, July 28th, 2018
The trend in stepfamily formation is growing as adults re-partner soon after separation and divorce, taking one or more children into the new relationship. Couples wanting a fresh start soon realize the challenges of stepping into a fully formed family which can leave them scratching their heads wondering how it can sometimes be so frustrating.
Here are five common struggles:
What about us? The new couple often finds themselves left out – the children take priority, followed by work and co-parenting from separate homes. Very soon, time becomes limited to invest in nurturing the couple and building strong bonds. As the couple relationship drops to the bottom of the totem pole questions arise, is it worth it?
Stuck in the middle – the partner with the children (sometimes both do) finds themselves torn between being there for their new spouse/partner while attending to the children and their ex-spouse. They often feel the new partner is too focused on rules and they themselves feel rotten for ‘over compensating’ with their children.
Odd one out – the step parent feels like an intruder stepping into a well formed family where all the relationships are stronger than theirs. They find themselves unsure of expectations and frustrated with the schedules that often change to interrupt their new relationship.
So many people and places, aaargh! The children find themselves caught in a constant changing experience of people and places. With so many parents, grandparents, siblings and switching from house to house there is so much to keep track of. Not to mention the emotional tension of betraying loyalties when with one parent and their new spouse in the absence of the other parent.
To be or not to be a parent. Step parents often find themselves wanting more boundaries and having a harder time connecting with their step children if there is a non-resident parent still involved. How much connection and how much discipline? This is especially difficult if the bio parent is seen as relaxed in their parenting because ‘the kids are only with us half the time.’
You may just be starting a new blended family or considering what the experience will be like once you both move in together and the kids come over. You may have been together for several years and can still relate to some of the above challenges and the many more that are unique to stepfamilies. If you are having challenges navigating with parenting, conflict, feeling stuck or frustrated, a family counsellor at Journey can help. Call today to book an appointment or book online now!
Register for a 6-week workshop for couples and individuals in stepfamily relationships. Spend 2 hours each session learning how stepfamilies are different from traditional families.