Myths are beliefs. It is these beliefs which strongly influence the way people in step families adjust to their new family and react to one another.
Those in blended families think their family is abnormal or strange because it is “in-step” instead of their “real” family. Statistics show about half of all Americans are currently involved in a type of a step relationship. But, despite the facts, the mythology lives on, and as a result, step parents often believe their families are not normal as compared to nuclear families.
Love occurs instantly
- This is the expectation: because you love your new partner you will automatically love his children; or the children will automatically love us because we are such nice people. Of course, if we think about it, we recognize establishing a relationship takes time. It does not happen overnight or by magic. Step family adjustment will be helped if we come into the relationship with our step children with minimal, and, more realistic, expectations about how the relationship will develop.
Adjustment occurs quickly
People are optimistic and hopeful about remarriage. People want life to settle down and to get on with being happy. If your hope or expectation is once the wedding vows are spoken life will return to normal, you are going to be disappointed. It takes time for people to get to know each other, to create positive relationships, and to develop a family history.
Children are forever damaged
Children go through a painful period of adjustment after a divorce or remarriage. Adults often respond to their children’s pain with guilt. Parents feel the need to make it up to them. This leads to difficulties in responding appropriately to our children’s hurt and setting appropriate limits – an important part of parenting.
Getting rid of the ingrained societal myths can be hard, so can giving up your hopes and expectations about what marriage, partnership, parenthood, and family life will be for you. The step family cannot function as the natural family did. It cannot and it will not. If you try to make it do so, you will set yourself up for failure. Also, you should not want it to. Obviously things didn’t work with the natural family, so why would you want to repeat those behaviors?
Be careful – these myths will set you up for failure:
Remember the old cliché – you and me and baby makes three? What about his older brothers and sisters in the new family?
I love kids and I am great with them. Do not fool yourself! Being a step parent is unlike any other experience. You have a different role and more complications when involved with the child’s parent.
The kids will not be living with us so this will be easy. Do not fool yourself. What about summer vacation, holidays and other over-night sleep-overs.
Myths are just MYTHS. Do not fall into the traps of them and do not give any more thought to them. Find what works for you and your new family. With everyone working together, your new family can function just as well as a biological family – maybe even better.