Many first marriages end in divorce. At the same time, many of these very people are getting remarried. The survival of a second marriage depends on several things, and one of the main issues that these marriages face is step-parenting. As the product of a blended family, I know that coping with the new dynamics of a blended family can be challenging for all members of the family. Although there are some exceptions to the rule, many stepchildren resent their stepparents. The following are some reasons for their resentment.
Blamed for the divorce
Stepchildren can resent their new stepparent because they feel that they are the reason for their parents’ divorce. This is especially true if the marriage occurs within a short time following the divorce of the parents.
Dashed hopes the parents will reunite
Although their parents’ relationship may have been unhappy, some children may still be harboring the hope that their parents will eventually get back together and that their lives will returned to the way that it was before the divorce. When the parent remarries, this can end that dream, and the child blames the stepparent for destroying their dreams.
Loyalty to biological parent
Many stepchildren fear that if they like their new stepparent they are betraying their biological parent. So, they withhold affection, and even if they have a nice stepparent, they react negatively. I didn’t harbor such views. I wanted both of my parents to be happy, and I realized that they were not happy together.
Seeking identity in the new family
As the new blended family emerges, the stepchild may struggle to find his or her identify among the new family. The new blended family means new rules and possibly new sibling rivalries. The child may feel that they have lost their sense of identity in the family. As a result, they struggle to reaffirm their place in the family, and the stepparent is viewed as the cause of this disruption.
View them as intruders or competitors
After the divorce, some children may develop an extremely close relationship with their custodial parent. They may actually enjoy having their parent all to themselves. When the stepparent enters the picture, they view them as an intruder in the family. The children of blended families have often been living in single parent homes. They are used to only one authority figure, and so, they resent the stepparent who tries to bring discipline and order into the household. The stepparent may also be viewed as a competitor for their parent’s affections.
Feel the stepparent is playing favorites
If new siblings are introduced into the family, some children may feel that their stepparent is showing favoritism to their biological children. In reality, some stepparents try to overcompensate by showing favoritism to their stepchildren over their own children.
Blame for financial struggles
The divorcee faces financial changes. The remarrying male may find himself trying to support two households-his new family and his old family. The divorced female often struggles the most financially. The children of divorcees may be forced to cut back on spending, to move to a different neighborhood, or to give up some of the luxuries that they enjoyed while their parents were married. They may then blame the loss of their family’s finances on the new stepparent. In my case, it was the direct opposite. My mother actually did better financially once she remarried. Although I loved my biological father, he wasn’t a good provider for us. So, the financial changes were actually a plus for my family.
Some stepchildren resent their stepparents. However, all is not lost. With time, work, and understanding, stepchildren can learn how to let go of their resentment and accept the new blended family.