- Family and Parenting
The Truth About Living with Step-Children
For those of you who have been raising children of your own, you all know that parenting in general can be a really touch job, but being a stepparent especially, can be even tougher. In this hub, I will be discussing primarily, some of the many daily challenges often faced by the stepparents, and also, learning to live in a step family.
Step families, also known as reconstructed or blended families, are formed when divorced or widowed people with children remarry. These families usually creates many more role adjusting problems for both stepparents and stepchildren than primary families. Stepparents often realize that achieving a satisfactory family relationship is more difficult than they ever imagined -- due to insufficient preparation to handle their new roles and minimal support from the society.
Remarriage can make life less stressful for adults, particularly for custodial parents. A partner who is willing to share financial responsibilities, household tasks, child-bearing decisions, and so on, can offer a substantial amount of relief to a divorced parent.
Men who are remarried are often expected to support two households financially, this means they may have to deal with additional pressures. In any event, second marriages are far much different from first marriages -- They are believed to operate within a more complex family organization which consist of stepchildren, ex-spouses, and former in-laws, which can create a bit of conflict.
Nevertheless, with second marriages there are often more open communication, greater acceptance of conflict, and more trust that disagreements can be resolved, according to some social psychologists.
Learning to Live In a Step-Family
The belief that step-families can simply pick up where the primary family have left off, is a misconception! Such belief is unrealistic and will inevitably leads to frustration and disappointment, according to one author. Both stepparents and stepchildren require sufficient time to adjust to each other-- to learn about and test each other' personalities. To do this, stepparents should make an effort to play a part in the children's lives that is different from that held by the biological parents. Stepparents who try to compete with the child's real parent, will often find themselves failing.
Most stepparents will agree that the greatest challenges in a stepparent- stepchild relationship, are discipline, adjusting to the habits and responsibilities of the children, and gaining the acceptance of the children. It's believed that stepmothers often experience more problems than stepfathers in adjusting to their new roles. Partially because of the stereotype of the "Wicked Stepmother" and partially due to fact that stepmothers spend more time with children than stepfathers. Stepmothers have to overcome odds in order to succeed, according to some experts in this field.
According to Psychologist, the popular stereotype of "the stepchild" also plays a major role. A stepchild is thought to be a bit neglected, perhaps abused, and definitely doesn't receive the same amount of love as the biological child. Surveys of professionals who often assist step-families, and the general public, reveal that these stereotypes are fairly widespread.
It's believed that Fairy tales such as Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel, simply reinforce some of those stereotypes. However, given the wide variety of relationships within step-families, such stereotypes are considered somewhat inaccurate.
It doesn't matter how willing a stepparent is to form a close relationship with his/her stepchildren, the children themselves may try to prevent this from occurring. It is strongly believe that If the children are in denial of the divorce or loss of their real parent; if they are used as pawns in a bitter, angry divorce; or if they embrace an idealized view of the missing parent -- the children may reject the stepparent's love, and make it impossible for any chance of family harmony!
Often times what really helps to form a workable relationship is taking the time to develop mutual trust, affection , a feeling of closeness, and respect for the child's point of views. It has been said that girls are likely to find it much harder establishing a good relationship with a stepfather than boys. This is probably due to the fact that the girls typically had a close relationship with her mother after a divorce and sees her stepfather as an intruder.
On the contrary, boys often have unruly, disagreeable relationships with their mothers after a divorce. A stepfather can help to mend the mother-son relationship.
One final point made by social psychologists, is that, although stepparents are rarely able to take the exact place the idealized biological parent has in the child's life, they can often provide a loving , nurturing, and secure home environment which is often more satisfactory than that of the strained family, prior to divorce. No doubt, most stepparents and stepchildren ended up making positive adjustments. However, the probability of these positive adjustments occurring is even greater if the step-family creates social unit that far supersedes the characteristics of the children's biological family to include new relationship and communication styles, methods of discipline, problem-solving strategies, and so on.
No matter how we may try to look at it, step-parenting is not an easy job for stepfathers or stepmothers. They may have to provide socioeconomic support for exes and children from previous marriages, and at the same time try to establish a relationship with the new children. Chances are, they might eventually succeed or they may not! However, whether they succeed or not, depends on how well they play their new role as stepparents and the willingness of the children to accept them in their lives.