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When a biological parent dies, a child may look towards their new stepparent to meet the needs that would normally be fulfilled by the lost parent.As the following example shows, while a stepfather or stepmother may be successful in meeting these needs, they may or may not necessarily experience the same emotional connection as they do with their own children.This straight-jacket of expectations stresses all the player, preventing them from connecting in authentic ways.As one teen girl I interviewed told me of her dad’s wife, “I like her, but I don’t want her to be my mum!
“Co-wives,” a trendy term for ex-wives and “new wives” who put aside their differences to “co-parent the kids,” suggests something much creepier - that step-family life is akin to polygamy and that the ladies should be not only united caretakers but also BFFs. With one in three people in the UK now a step-parent, step-child, adult step-child, step-sibling or step-grandparent, can we please resolve to clean up our language in 2013? They “blend” into a semblance of a first family, with the step-parent “loving those kids just like they’re my own” and the kids returning the sentiment. After all, anyone in a remarriage with kids has likely been bludgeoned with the term and the idea by the media, well-intentioned friends, books on the topic of “blended family life” and even therapists who specialise in treating “blended families”. Because re-partnership with children or adult children is anything but an ambrosial smoothie.It notes that flexibility and respect for difference are better predictors of stepfamily success than “tight knitted-ness.” Sure, it makes everyone else feel comfortable when step-families are “just like” first families.But it doesn’t feel so great to step-families themselves.Reaching out to the kids (or their mum) to bridge the gap can backfire, creating feelings of failure and disappointment that in turn stress the couple.Indeed, it may come as a surprise to the general public (and a relief to stepfamilies) to learn that conflict is the rule, rather than the exception, in the first years of step-family life. Let’s Break It Down First of all, step-families are not precisely families.
Third, there’s an ex or deceased spouse in the picture.