The subject is delicate and yet more frequent than it seems. The advice of Cécile Guéret, couple therapist, on the question.
Maintaining a good relationship with the children of your new partner is not so simple. Whether you are (or not) already a parent, it can be tricky to find your place and feel comfortable with his children. In the opinion of psychologists, there is no point in putting pressure on yourself, in the end you are not obliged to immediately love the children the other. The best is probably to take your time to get to know each other. The advice of Cécile Guéret, couple therapist, in Tours.
#1 Reflect on what this feeling hides
“To think about what this feeling can hide, the help of a psychotherapist can be invaluable because the affective issues can be multiple and intertwined, Cécile Guéret analysis. Indeed, is it because of a lack of affinity with these children, is it because you are not in agreement with their education (you find them impolite, etc.), is it because you feel like you are going after them in your partner’s heart…or is it because you’re worried his kids won’t like you?”
Whatever the reason, it can’t be summed up in a pithy “I like it, I don’t like it”. This could be experienced as a rejection, a judgment, an accusation by your partner, hurting him/her and creating a conflict between you. And, it goes without saying, we don’t say it that way to children either! Let’s not forget that, in the relationship between the children and you, you are the adult. You are therefore better able to take a step back, to think about the situation, to think about solutions, than children.
#2 A complex situation
Whatever the reason for your lack of affection for these children, keep in mind that it is likely to be more complex than it first appears. “In a recomposed family, emotional ties are elective, that is to say they are not acquired, they are to be created, to be woven, to be maintained, to be reinvented, emphasizes the psychologist. In addition, the place of step-parent is a delicate place because it is necessary to knit with the characters of the children of each…”.
In practice, complex organizational questions (which child goes to which room?), questions of money, education, lifestyles, place in the family, etc., are intertwined. “It is not easy to find your right place and a balance that suits everyone”.
#3 Accept the lack of affinities
If you simply have the impression of not having an immediate affinity with his children, the first thing to say, already, is quite simply that it is possible. We can have an obvious relationship with some children while some relationships are sometimes more difficult to weave than others. However, since they are your partner’s children, it would be more serene for everyone to manage to create a bond all the same. Is it only because you don’t have the same interests? In this case, have you tried to look for common ground, for example, if they are football fans while you hate sports, maybe you will find yourself on the pleasure of baking together , going to the cinema or playing board games, etc.
#4 Unbearable differences?
This lack of affinity is too strong? “These differences in affinity may mean that you find it difficult to come to terms with your partner’s past or that you feel excluded or excluded from the strong relationship that binds your partner to their children, explains Cécile Gueret, before analyzing: “Perhaps you initially had a very high ideal of a relationship with your stepchildren, that you imagined yourself to be close, accomplices, and that the reality was a little different?”
The psychologist then advises to conduct an introspection wondering what role you had imagined? What mission did you give yourself? How do you situate yourself vis-à-vis the ex, the parent of the children? As for your partner, how does he relate to the relationship you have with his children? What do you imagine he expects from you, what he fears, what he hopes for? And the children, how do you think they experience the relationship with you? What are their fears, their difficulties, their expectations in this situation of family recomposition?
#5 Lay down with the other
Once you have clarified this on your side, you can talk about it in a more peaceful way with your partner. The key for you to “find solutions, arrangements together, so that you can pay attention to your couple, find the right place, take care of you two, and of the children, in these complicated issues of family recomposition”.
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