Recently, I overheard two women discussing someone they know who is part of a stepfamily. I wasn’t trying to listen, but it was inevitable.
“The kids refuse to introduce Eric’s sons their brothers,” Woman #1 stated. “They insist on referring to them as stepbrothers.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Woman #2 protested. “Eric and Judy have been married for 5 years. Judy should insist that her kids consider Eric’s kids as brothers.”
“I know, but they won’t. They absolutely refuse,” Woman #1 replied.
“Well, that’s ridiculous. They are just being little brats.” Woman #2 huffed.
I wanted to turn around and say, “I know if you aren’t involved in a stepfamily it seems odd that the kids would resist bonding. But it’s perfectly normal for children in a stepfamily to refuse to accept stepbrothers and stepsisters as their own siblings.”
I’ve learned the hard way to keep my mouth shut about stepfamily living. Especially around those who have preconceived ideas about what is “normal.” Many people, like these two ladies, don’t understand the unique complexities associated with stepfamilies.
This overheard conversation caused me to ponder, why do people think that after a death or divorce of a parent a child is going to automatically embrace “Eric’s children?”
And why are these women blaming the children for the exhibited fear, anger, and resentment?
If these women had asked for my opinion, I would have said, “Let’s take a deeper look into why the kids refuse to view their stepbrothers as siblings.”
There are a plethora of reasons. A few include: They may view the stepdad as the person who took Mom away. If biological Dad is absent they may resent that Eric’s sons have an active dad. They may fear that accepting Eric’s sons as brothers will make Dad angry or sad. There are a host of underlying emotions which may be triggering the refusal to accept the boys as brothers.
When kids, or adults, struggle to embrace a stepfamily setting the wise, healthy response is to take a deeper look at below the surface concerns. And then seek resources, seminars or support groups which addresses the routine complexities that stepfamilies face.
Laura Petherbridge serves couples and single adults with topics on spiritual growth, relationships, marriage enhancement and divorce recovery. She is an international speaker and author. Laura and her husband, Steve, reside in Lady Lake, Florida. To learn more about Laura, please visit her website.
Laura will be leading a weekend event for step families and anyone who ministers to step families. The event will be in Normal, IL, September 15 and 16. For more information, please visit the event website.