Difficulties couples face when one partner comes into a relationship with a child from another relationship and the couple then has a child of their own.
Here in Counsellor Northern Beaches this has been a common theme I have encountered many times recently and sadly it can be very mismanaged.
I am sure that in our rational minds we would all agree that any child needs to have the highest consideration; and to be put above anything else/to come first.
That said I think couples coming together where one of the couple already has a child, the childless partner then takes them on as a “package deal.”
The partner coming into the relationship with the child needs to be very transparent about the implications/duties/financial impacts that child will have on the relationship; and what would be expected of the new partner.
Some scenarios I have found are: the new partner welcomes the child and works hard to accept and build a relationship with the child.
This all goes really well until the couple has a child between them. The biggest issue appears to be one of guilt. The partner with a child seems to assert themselves by overcompensating with their child at the detriment of bonding with the new baby. The new partner now becomes very invested in their new baby and the interest and attention given to the partner’s child wanes causing huge tension between the couple.
This is a very sensitive issue and needs careful consideration and balance. Often there are different parenting styles that come into the mix. With the new couple not able to agree on treating the children in the same way. The new parent can at times be overprotective of the new baby, while at times the other parent can seem cavalier.
Depending on the age difference between the children and possibly the difference in sex, they can be at completely different stages in development and therefore needing different stimulation and attention/parenting needs.
The other scenario I have encountered is the childless partner does not warm to the child and is very opinionated on how the child should be treated/managed. This causes huge stress as the partner feels they are the expert on their child and as the new partner does not have children how are they qualified to make all these decisions/statements etc. This is seen as criticism of their character and it can drive a wedge between the couple.
So what is really needed here in each of these 2 scenarios:
Our children are helpless and are brought into the world by 2 adults. They deserve to be treated with the utmost kindest and care.
The couple need to find a way to communicate and come to an agreement on how to spend quality time with each child separately, and to bring them together as well to form the blended family.
They need to agree on a joint approach to parenting styles. We cannot have one approach with one child and another approach with the other child.
There are times that the parent of the child from a previous relationship wants to be the only parent to do the necessary disciplining. This can often be the case if the child is already quite grown up. I would argue that if the child is very young, it should not be considered. The two children can grow up together and it would seem obvious that parenting should be aligned.
The communication between the new couple must be checked in regularly to avoid conflict and misunderstanding and to build a harmonious blended family.
If you or someone that you know is going through something similar, please reach out as I would love to help you smooth out the road blocks in your growing relationship.