Emotions in a new family structure can enhance any conflict that the child or young person was experiencing before the separation. “He is not my dad”, “she is not my mom to command me”; these are typical phrases with which the difficulty of integration is usually expressed, living together or not, in the new families formed by the parents, after a separation or widowhood.
Traps and dangers lurk in this family structure, such as invading or being invaded in personal space, excluding and being excluded, rivaling siblings and step-siblings, hating or loving the partner of the father or mother, feeling eternal guilt, or compete with the husband’s or wife’s children for your attention and time.
All these emotions can enhance any conflict that the child was experiencing even before the separation. Thus, a shy child can, for example, react completely the opposite with his step-siblings if he is attacked in his space. Or a child who was always the “center”, the “spoiled” of the family, may withdraw in the face of this new family scenario.
A generally complex kind of relationship
The relationship with stepmothers and stepfathers is usually complex. This role is often unpleasant for those who occupy it because it must be taken into account that what interests the child is to maintain the relationship with the father and mother, even when they separate. There is always a hope of rebuilding the family and that is why they see in the “new” stepmother or stepfather, the impediment.
But it is not always the case; there are fathers or mothers who have never played, never, the role that corresponds to them as a new family member, who will try to lead the family in a harmonious, coherent manner, as an excellent “work team” to the family.
In addition to the above, sometimes it turns out that boys or girls and even adolescents, at first, do not call him dad or mom, but by his name, but really this should not constitute a serious problem, since other manifestations of behavior, of affection, they can reflect facts that go beyond what your name is.
And in the event that the biological father exists, does he have a stable and well-defined relationship both emotionally and in everyday life with the child? If the biological father has maintained the activities in which the stepfather participates, they do not have to conflict with the child. Regardless of the activities that are carried out, the child will be able to participate freely in them if he does not perceive a contradiction in what the adults propose.
On the contrary, conflicts occur when there is room in the family for the disqualification of each other, closing the way to the participation of other adults in parenting. It is common for children who have more than one family to have thousands of critical things happen to them in a single moment, while other families experience the problems that may arise in the vital cycle of life in stages.
It is complex, but if children are allowed to express what they really feel, their usual childish behavior, crying, grief, indiscipline, second partners and step-siblings can be assets in life and a gain rather than a problem.