“Remco and I have been together for four years now and we would be very happy if there were no constant problems with the kids. We raised our children very differently. Remco thinks all is well with his daughters and has spoiled them tremendously. He can afford to give his daughters everything their hearts desire, and they think it’s perfectly normal. My kids are much less used to it. After my divorce, we had a hard time financially, but I don’t really think the girls suffered from that. ”
“It was only when Remco and I got into a relationship, and certainly when we moved in together, that they began to compare. Remco’s children got expensive designer clothes, the latest mobile phone and their driving lessons were paid for. I could not give it to my children, did not think it was necessary. Remco often offered to pay for things for them, but I found it difficult, felt it was my responsibility. It was still about material things, but Isa and Lotte were not used to doing anything in the house. For example, after dinner, they get up from the table and do not even bring their own plate. My daughters have been used to helping from an early age. But they started protesting because the other two girls did not have to do anything. ”
“My daughters stayed with us all week, Remco’s daughters every other week. Officially, then, because they regularly came to their father in between, because they had a fight with their stepfather. He also did not like their behavior. I started to get more and more upset that the two princesses were doing exactly what they wanted and that I got a big mouth when I said something about it. Their father thought I should not make such a problem out of it, and said that they were having a hard time with the divorce and that they were teenagers. ”
“The girls have now left home, and Remco still pays everything for his and my work and student financing. But there is still instant excitement in the house when his daughters come in, which they do all the time. In addition, there are always problems around the holidays because his daughters decide where we are going and what we are doing. I think we need to set our limits here, but Remco thinks I should not be so difficult in those few weeks. I am already looking forward to our next holiday. ”
“I’m actually lighter than Marian in many ways. My kids are used to it. Materially so, emotionally less. I wish they had grown up in a full family, and I know they’ve been deeply saddened by ours. separation. I may have compensated a little for that by being too tolerant in other areas. There have been a lot of problems with their mother and her new partner, so I thought it was important to make them feel that they really were welcome to our home. ”
“When I met Marian, I immediately got along well with her daughters, so I hoped it would be the other way around and that we would really form a new family with four daughters of the same age.”
“I know Marian did her best to approach my daughters and hers with the same warmth and interest, but it quickly went wrong. She would impose on them her rules and manners too quickly. For example, about having tasks at home and about eating at the table and having a conversation without putting the cell phone next to it. My daughters resisted this: Father allowed me. Then I was asked on both sides to take sides. Marian thought I should teach the children that it was obscene to look at your phone while someone was talking to you. ”
“My daughters wanted me to make it clear to her that I had always been fine with it at home and used to do it myself. They were still teenagers at the time, so it escalated, and they told Marian that she had nothing to say about them and that she lived in our house. They shouted at me that I was a gossip and that I thought she was more important than them. ”
“According to Marian, my children tried to ruin our relationship and it almost succeeded. I think it would have gone much more harmonious with a little more agility from her. But Marian is pretty tenacious when it comes to her opinion and her rules. .I even find her a little stiff in it.Now that the children are out of the house, she thinks they should let them know when they come to visit.It goes too far for me.This remains their home where they are always welcome “and can invade, all four. And as far as I’m concerned, the holiday is very much about the children. I like my time with them. I think that’s important, especially now that they live independently.”
From the conversations with Marian and Remco, it becomes clear to me again how complicated it is to have a mixed family, and how in your efforts to make things right for everyone, you can always get stuck in patterns where intense emotions control you. The parents’ hope and wish is that they will again form a ‘normal family’ with their new partner and both children. But a mixed family never becomes an ordinary family.
First of all, not because there are always two other parents of the children who also interfere in them. In addition, each family has its own culture, customs and rules. The children are used to it and it gives them security. When that security is threatened because their original family has fallen apart and they have to get used to another house, a partner other than their parents and perhaps other children with whom they have to share their lives, they will be reluctant to accept accept the new partner’s parenting style. The remark comes quickly: ‘You are not my mother / father.’
Despite all the good intentions, the new ‘father or mother’ is only too aware of this. He has known his own children from an early age and loves them dearly. He is aware of their grief and their expectations. It hurts him when he feels that his new love does not like his children very much. Logically, of course, because she has not grown into them as he is. Yet his immediate response is to stand up for his children when he feels they are being attacked. I think almost all parents are older than partners. You are bound to your children, you are responsible for them. So if you have to choose at all, it’s going to be for the kids. So being a stepparent is quite a task.
I discuss with Marian and Remco that they need to pull the newly composed family apart again. They are actually two single parents with different stories and cultures. So it is important that the children have time with their parent and that they are not constantly forced on the new parent. Marian does not have to raise Remco’s children. He does. She can discuss it with him if she notices things that she thinks he should do differently.
The same goes for Remco. He also leaves it up to Marian how she wants to handle her children. If he thinks she could be a little more indulgent in some ways, he can discuss it with her at another time when the kids are not around.
The fact that the children live independently does not mean that they no longer need their parents and their home. But they can also feel welcome when reporting their visit.