stepparents dayYour marriage is on the rocks and you meet the love of your life after your divorce. Like you, he or she has children from a previous relationship and you are having another child together. What is the role of this love baby? Does he or she act as superglue to unite the family?
Esther Methorst (47) had another child three years ago with her new love: “It was a big surprise for us that we had another child together; I was 44 when I got pregnant. We are very happy for our son and see him as a gift, but not all reactions in our family were equally positive, and that hurts you as a parent.”
A ‘love baby’ in a blended family has a unique role. This child is the only one who has a blood connection with everyone in the family. According to Patricia Heije (51), founder of Stiefgoed and trainer of stiefgoed coaches, the need for a child with the new partner arises from a confirmation of love: ,,If you fall in love again after a divorce and are convinced that it will forever, such a child is the icing on the cake.”
You tend to pay close attention to the times when all your children are there, but don’t forget to support your new nuclear family
Complex composite family
According to her, it can go one of two ways: ,, The child is welcomed with open arms and pampered by everyone, or the whole family turns to cultivation and ends up in a crisis. In general, ex-partners find the arrival of such a baby complicated: it is difficult for them to see that the unique parental relationship they have with you suddenly belongs to someone else.”
When a love baby is born in a mixed family, according to relationship therapist and psychologist Sjoera Dikkers (53), one speaks of a complex mixed family: ,,There are even more layers and contexts in the family. Because of the guppy added, you become a ‘real’ family to your stepchildren: your child is biologically a brother or sister to your stepchild. Even if your marriage breaks up again, you’ll stay connected forever.”
It’s nice for everyone if you can say out loud to your ex: I have amazing children with you
Oil on the fire
According to Heije, it is a fact that the new baby is the link in such a mixed family: ,,Whether you like it or not, all lines go past him or her. I would never advise parents to go for it, but it is next level. Dikkers advises against parents if one of them is going through a divorce: “You are throwing fuel on the fire and that is not wise. It’s nice if you, as a parent, stand your ground: if you, as a parent, struggle with hatred, jealousy or feelings that you don’t care about, it gets complicated.”
As a parent, it is important to realize that with the arrival of such a love baby, you create a new nuclear family within the composite family, says Heije: ,, There is nothing wrong with that, but accept that there are several systems within for greater wholeness. Many divorcing parents focus on being a ‘normal’ family. Don’t: There are simply more layers with associated difficulties.”
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Honor the relationship with your ex
What else can you do to make your patchwork family a success? Heije: ,,Make sure you have a good relationship with your ex-partner. Whether you like it or not, the child also gets a place in his life. Whatever dragon your ex is, try to see what he or she does well. Inform your ex yourself about the pregnancy so that he or she does not have to hear the news through the children.”
Dikkers: “Honor the relationship with your ex for the sake of your children. It is the hardest thing for divorced parents, but it is nice for everyone if you can say out loud: I have good children with you. The new baby will also play a role in your ex’s life, if only through stories your children tell. React positively as an ex-partner and tell your children that you are happy for them, that they have a brother or sister.”
Inform your ex yourself about the pregnancy so that he or she does not have to hear the news through the children
Baby as an attraction
Big brothers and sisters do not always respond enthusiastically to the arrival of a new sprout. Methorst also experienced this when she announced her pregnancy: “You think you are bringing good news, but the children were not immediately enthusiastic.” According to Dikkers, painful reactions are common, and it is not surprising: ,,As a parent, you are in love with your new partner and the baby that is on the way, but your children are grieving. They lose a certain position in the family, and that can be hard.”
It can also go the other way: “The baby is the attraction for brothers and sisters, and they want to stay in the family with the baby more often than with the other parent,” says Heije. Dikkers: “This may be because it is cozy there, but it may also arise from a threatening feeling that as a child you do not want your father or mother to build a new life without you.”
Maintain your nuclear family
According to Heije, paying attention to all children is seen by parents as the biggest challenge in a complex family. “You tend to pay close attention to the times when all your children are there, but don’t forget to support your new nuclear family. Spend time with the three of you and don’t feel guilty about it.”
In the event of tension or arguments within the love relationship, you see that within a family, two camps often arise with the children. The love baby is always in between, and it can be complicated, says Dikkers. “Give it time. According to science, it takes five to seven years for a blended family to get going. If there are permanent difficulties, don’t hesitate to ask for help: a baby is simply not a super glue that holds everything together , and things don’t always go well by themselves.”
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