How does a good relationship with children grow?
Children love their parents. And the familiar. But after a separation of parents, everything is different. If one parent starts a new relationship, massive changes are suddenly on the horizon again, with strains on all family members. Does the new couple move in together? Are other children coming into the patchwork family? Is perhaps one child just the oldest and suddenly the youngest? There are many, many questions. Which difficulties can arise and how it can succeed to strengthen the new family relationships, you can read in this article.
The topic of growing together is complex, no two patchwork families are the same: Sometimes a child comes into the relationship, sometimes children from both previous relationships come together. Sometimes there are children who only join at the weekend. Sometimes a new baby is announced. The challenges are as varied as the variations. Children in particular often suffer from the unfamiliar situation. They are torn between the nuclear family and the patchwork family, perhaps struggling with fear, anger or feelings of guilt, having to get used to a new family routine just as much as to a new partner for their father or a new partner for their mother. This can lead to problems in everyday family life.
Typical triggers for family problems are lack of acceptance, competitive thinking and jealousy. Experience shows that especially questions of upbringing as well as the relationship between children and new partner often trigger conflicts in varying degrees. These are common difficulties:
If mom has a new partner or dad a new girlfriend, this is usually difficult for the children to accept at first. They wish for the old security in the nuclear family back. They may even hope that the parents will find their way back to each other. The new partners may then be perceived as "intruders" and this manifests itself in rejecting behavior, depending on the age of the children perhaps even in anger and provocation.
There are children who suffer greatly from the new situation and believe they are (partly) to blame for the separation of their parents. This feeling is sometimes transferred to the new partner. The new partners compete with the familiar, "exchanged" parent. A "bonus dad" or "bonus mom" can never replace the original, of course, and should never attempt to do so.
Children have a hard time fitting in the new situation. Perhaps, contrary to expectations, the mother's new partner or the father's girlfriend is even nice and friendly. However, some children think that if they accept the new partner, they are betraying their own parent. That both people can find a place in their lives takes time and trust.
Among previously unfamiliar children within the patchwork family, the roles that each and everyone takes in the new family must be clarified anew: for example, between older and younger, between girls and boys and, of course, to their own parent and the new one. This often leads to quarrels and jealousy among themselves.
Parenting issues usually still need to be negotiated with the separated ex-partner if custody is shared. Nevertheless, conflicts about parenting issues can arise in the patchwork family if the stepparent has different ideas than the natural parent. This can lead not only to tensions with the children, but also to arguments between the new couple.
What can help is: show consideration, do not rush things, talk a lot, learn from each other, negotiate with each other, give everyone involved enough time. The following tips offer you clues to adjust well to the new situation and to accompany the changes for the children as positively as possible:.
For children, a patchwork family also has advantages, despite all the challenges, hurdles and efforts. They gain more caregivers and have a large family network behind them. Patchwork children often develop very high social skills in the new family system. They benefit from having to make arrangements, are considerate and flexible, and can adapt well to new situations. Many patchwork children are independent at an early age and take responsibility for others.
A patchwork family demands a high degree of conflict ability and tolerance from all involved. What begins with an emotional high, can quickly lead to friction and disillusionment. If talking to each other doesn't lead anywhere, an outside perspective can help. This can be done with other patchwork families or free of charge at family and educational counseling centers that also exist in your region. There is always also the possibility to get professional advice on the Internet.