How To Bond With Stepchildren
Child India|May 2018

Know how you can sail through parenthood successfully if you are a part of a step-family.

Prachi S. Vaish

A MARRIAGE is a beautiful union between two people, and more often than not between two families. It’s a phase of life that requires a lot of adjustment and if it happens to be a second marriage involving children, these adjustments take on a whole new meaning.

Rukmini Vaish from Kanpur married her elder sister’s husband after her sister passed away. It seemed like a natural course of action for the families because the two-year-old Vaishali she had left behind was already very close to her aunt. Today her daughter is in college; Rukmini has had two more kids from her marriage and no one has ever been able to guess that there’s a stepchild or a stepmom in the family. Rukmini says, “I never felt like it was something unnatural I had to adapt to; my sister’s daughter was already very dear to me, and she was very young too, so I could readily take on the role of her mother. For me, Vaishali will always be my firstborn.”

Gone are the days of the cruel stepmothers of fairy tales and folklore. New-age step-families are modern, open-minded and aware of the challenges of their set-up. Here are some:

altered relationships

In a stepfamily, the child might have to make one of the two kinds of adjustments—if there has been a divorce, the child will end up feeling torn between the biological parent and the step-parent. If the biological parent has passed away, then there’s a struggle to accept the new parent. In either case, it’s about the conflict of ‘replacing’ one parent with another.

the changed parent 

Not only does the child have to come to terms with a new parent, he also has to get used to seeing his accompanying parent in a new light—as a partner to someone new. With the accompanying parent’s new marriage, he/she is expected to play the role of a new husband/wife, which is more time consuming and demanding than what the child is used to.

prying peers

Another major issue children face is their friends trying to tease or pry information from them about the new family set-up. This can negatively impact the youngster's already fragile state of mind, and she may start to withdraw socially or feel angry with the parent for ‘putting her in this situation’.

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