My mother passed away when I was ten years old. I idealised her memory by having her photograph in my wallet and told every friend about her. Immediately after mum’s death, my father started cohabiting with her close friend whom I had always known as auntie. She was always in charge of my birthday parties and even helped me cut the cake every year.
Even though my father loved her, I didn’t think she was good enough for him. First, I was angry that she violated my mother’s trust by moving in with father and second, I felt she did not deserve him. Finally, I did not want another mother. It took me a long time to accept her as part of the family. Looking back, I realise this still affects my relationships to date.
Stepfamiies have some sobering realities.
Compared to the structure of the first marriage family, stepfamilies are dynamic and complex. Stepfamilies are steadily growing and more people are involved in such interactions.
Generally, not much information is given concerning stepfamilies because the ideal situation is the original marital relationship. There are guidelines that can help the dynamic families fit in better in their respective roles, particularly in the early stages of the stepfamily union.
It is important to note that a step family is usually formed as a result of another failed relationship, either through separation, divorce or death.
This leads to a loss and therefore, important to give the individuals time to mourn and heal. Every individual’s relationship in the loss is different and, therefore, the intensity of the grief is also different. Many times, assumptions are generalised about this and it has drastic effects on the individuals. As a matter of fact, both adults and children in successful step families acknowledge these losses, have dealt with them and are ready to move on. They are looking to the future with hope and anticipation.
It is important to hold realistic expectations on step family life. You have to understand the dynamics, accept its realities, adjust and move on.
It is also helpful to acknowledge the myths. Here are some of them:
1. A step family has the same dynamics as the first marriage family.
2. Love occurs instantly.
3. Stepmother/fathers are wicked.
4. Children/spouses of those that are deceased coupe better than those from a divorced background.
5. It helps children cope better and forget their biological parent faster.
6. Bonding of step families happens easily and fast.
7. Step families blend easily as they are more adoptable.
Investing in relationships is worth it take nothing for granted and give it your best! Live love and thrive because you desire it.
The writer is a relationship coach and author of Marriage Built to Last. You can reach her on: www.jenniekarina.co.ke