The extended family of origin in the past, for each individual, it represented the main point of reference in growth and in everyday life. Parents, siblings, grandparents and uncles had the fundamental function of giving support and affection from early childhood. It was an indissoluble bond that often became even suffocating and symbiotic.
Now this definition has taken on another meaning and the extended family mostly identified as the 'reconstituted' family, it lives in a completely different reality, in which there are no biological siblings but new emotional ties.
Extended families problems
When the family of origin dissolves, so many certainties are lost, so many habits, sometimes the points of reference have difficulty in remaining stable and the individual members experience not only separation but also the disintegration of a context that up to that moment was a benchmark for growth. Once established, extended families inevitably bring about significant changes in everyone's life. The new balances, new emotional ties and coexistence, as often happens, bring with them various problems first of all that of having to adapt to people, until recently, unknown.
Coming out of a separation, in many cases with difficulty, leads children to be wary of those who approach them by promising love and attention. Often we do not notice that the same suffer from trough, they isolate themselves from everyone considering, instead, their way of acting as a form of reticence and rejection for the new situation or for the new partner / partner. Adults have strong expectations towards the new bond naturally arising from what they consider a previous failure and therefore they try in every way to avoid the same problems by leaving out the inner experience of their children.
But gaining the trust of children and adolescents in a new family context, as strangers, takes energy and patience. In fact, it may happen that from an apparently difficult situation, on the contrary, a serene and balanced context can arise, made up of emotional exchanges and respect. What before the child lived badly, perhaps in a conflicting family context, can turn into a positive experience for him, and for everyone, precisely because the emotional experience of a problematic emotional bond is re-evaluated by fully understanding that separation was necessary.
How to behave with the children of the new partner?
New partner and children
When we separate we often bond with a new partner and in these cases the whole family faces an important change. Both adults and children change their lifestyle and sometimes even their schedules. They get used to new environments and new people, that is, individuals called 'brothers' or 'parents' who until then were perfect strangers become part of the family entourage. The new partner could therefore have children and serious problems could appear. Feeling lost is a first consequence but the fear of being abandoned, neglected or replaced is the greatest.
In the beginning, when the core is still in its nascent state, there is surprise, confusion and disorientation. The emotions are evident and the defense is underway. But when the situation becomes clearer and the couple stabilizes in an environment, their unique, priority space no longer exists and the reaction is immediate. In these situations, the conflict between parents and children, between new partner and children can arise precisely because the stressful situation generated by the change produces a considerable imbalance. It is therefore very important to be able to define boundaries and mutual respect, especially when we do not yet know each other.
The children or young people who are, in fact, need to keep their habits and their stability since a first change has already occurred previously.
The pros and cons of reconstituted families: jealousies between couples with and without children
The traditional family is increasingly rare, nowadays we speak of a reconstituted family which defines the constitution of a new nucleus in which the two partners, or one of the two, have had children from a previous relationship. Patchwork families are not only a current reality but have always existed, the only difference is linked to the fact that, in the past, remarrying meant being a widower. Now the minors are divided between two different realities, one referred to the maternal situation and the other to the father. They have two residence environments with two different emotional spaces that differ from each other as they involve different people. Educational styles and experiential backgrounds acquired from previous family situations tend to be significantly disjointed.
It takes therefore a great commitment and a strong sense of adaptation since past experience has traumatized all components. Jealousies, conflicts, feelings of guilt they can take over if the new coexistence is not managed with balance, determination and authority, since everyone would suffer. The reconstituted family can also have its pros, in the sense that the new environment can certainly favor a greater emotional opening of the growing children, they can be stimulated to compare and learn to be objective by observing things from two different perspectives. Furthermore, especially for only children, the acquisition of new 'siblings', even if not biological, could mean having new playmates. Living in two different environments, even alternately, as well as further fostering the sense of adaptation can also be a stimulus for the little one and facilitate him to move more confidently in the various contexts of life.
Cons, defined above all by jealousy with respect to the presence or absence of children, can affect relationships between siblings. This means that the impossibility or the choice not to form a family can be a discriminating factor in the behavior of grandparents. Children are a gift but at the same time they can be a threat or be a source of pride in front of those who cannot have them. Accepting not being able to create a family or simply sharing a choice of renunciation establishes substantial differences between one nucleus and another.
Faced with these situations, if the relationships are already conflicting, episodes of jealousy. But what is jealousy after all? It is a feeling of deprivation that primarily concerns oneself, 'the other has something that I do not possess' and therefore' I feel pain in observing that for this reason he also receives more attention than me, but above all because he continually reminds me of what I am missing. '. But not only.
In reconstituted families, one of the two partners may not have children and this could lead to a condition of subordination with respect to a favorite relationship. The new partner or new partner may feel set apart from the children in the previous relationship, especially if the father or mother is particularly thoughtful and attentive.
Extended families how to behave
Communication is as crucial as it is the cognitive and emotional processing of the background: sometimes not everyone can understand what one 'lives' or 'lived' in the previous failure and it is therefore advisable to share that 'emotional' moment with one's children without involving others or delegating someone to do it. It is right that the child has his own space and time to devote to its elaboration. Support each other in times of need and necessity without neglecting or postponing: it is important that there is mutual listening and support to face new situations, to leave the old ones and to integrate two different realities with each other both in reference to the two separated parents and to the new nuclei constituted by both parties.
That is, we need to make the problems clear right away without hiding anything. Furthermore, like all human beings, children and young people also notice differences and preferences, it is therefore essential to treat and educate everyone equally. If defensive attitudes arise, one must overcome fear and face the situation because in one way or another, however, one does not avoid hurting or hurting. Sometimes even suffering helps to grow and to take responsibility. Designing a new lifestyle means sharing the parental role with the ex partner without choosing independently so that the children can perceive stability not only in the educational style but also in the emotional one. After all, biological parents always remain a fundamental point of reference in everyone's life and it is right that children continue to keep their space with them even though they are no longer together.