June 27, 2013 by thejalebichronicles
Life OK Please: A pit stop for those of you hurtling through life at break neck speed
Whenever I tell people I live in a stepfamily, the first question they ask is, “Is your Stepmother ok?” Most times, I pretend to weep and say that she forces me to cook, clean and scrub the house while not allowing me to go to balls and dance till midnight.
The media has always portrayed step parents as plain evil but are these archetypical images of stepparents accurate? Here, I hope to address this question.
Definition:- A family that is formed on the remarriage of a divorced or widowed person and which includes one or more children is called a stepfamily.
In the Beginning
What do you address your new stepparent as? Indian custom dictates that stepparents are to be addressed just as you would address your own parent. This custom also happened to dictate that sati, child marriage and casteism are perfectly normal things to indulge in.
No child will willingly call someone else parent. Doing this does not erase the past or change biological facts and this leads to resentment and indicates that the relationship is a farce. Also, if a parent exists outside the divorce, this will hurt sentiments and cause bitterness. Try using the pre-fix Uncle/Aunty, (whew, thank God for THAT custom!) or, if everyone is comfortable, call the stepparent by name.
Children will feel confident that nobody is replacing their biological parents. It’s important to develop a set of rules to be followed by all as this keeps the kids on equal footing from the beginning.
If children are in their teens, they’re mature enough to fight their own battles, but if they are younger, things can get nasty.
Then, parents are expected to step in and help them solve their problems before emotions take control.
Psychology Today states that the cause of many problems in stepfamilies today is the women!
Women believe that they are responsible for smooth relationships among everyone, even if they are not part of the conflict. However, they work towards resolutions, as well. It’s important that rationality is valued more than emotion and fights are resolved with cooperative discussion, just as any normal family would.
In India, everyone loves being the shoulder to cry on. When pressures are high, don’t cave in by running to a parent’s or friend’s house or by sending your children away. Doing this will only aggravate the ‘us and them’ divide, which is unhelpful to everyone.
Friend or Foe?
Stepparents are expected to act with maturity. Children take time to accept them and will always have an inner conflict regarding whether or not someone new is taking their lost parent’s place. A stepparent’s responsibility is to bond and maintain consistency in the love shown to all children.
Fights between stepparent and stepchild are natural, but over analyzing is what leads to trouble. ‘If they were my child,’ or ‘if they weren’t married to my parent,’ are common thoughts, but are merely counterproductive.
Control these and things get easier.
Don’t try to force love or ‘try too hard,’ as though done with good intention, is easily noticeable and causes resentment. Given time and effort, love will blossom on its own.
We’re Left With…
Studies from U.S.A show that children from stepfamilies have an 80% chance of turning out with no behavioural problems. It’s time we dismiss with traditional myth and value the beauty in stepfamilies. Two people share a love that is so great that they are willing to let go of past insecurities, want their own children to be part of their new joy and are putting much more on the line than the first time round. Isn’t that worth respecting?
Are you from a stepfamily? Are things hard for you right now? Talk to us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org
– Alaric Moras
DISCLAIMER:- All views are the writer’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of the other co-authors present.