Step families come in all shapes and sizes – and babies change things
"You're going to have a new brother or sister." Any child hearing this is likely to experience a whole range of emotions. When couples who already have children from previous relationships have a new baby there are often a whole range of complex issues that have to be dealt with. Your children might seem settled and happy but they often have very mixed feelings about all the changes a new brother or sister will bring. It's important to try and encourage your children to express their feelings and to let them know that it is OK to feel confused.
You might have mixed feelings too. Your partner might feel OK about the baby because they have done it all before, but it is your first child and it’s all new to you. You want it to be a special time for both of you. Try and put yourself in your partner’s shoes to imagine what it feels like for them. Talk to them about it.
Once the new baby has arrived there may be more general arguing or the children may withdraw to their bedrooms. The arrival of the baby may have “rocked the boat” and you can feel at a loss to know what to do. Often this is a time when grandparents can provide parents with additional help and often children find it easier to talk about their mixed feelings to a grandparent than they do with their mum, dad or stepparent.
Friends, relations or people at work might all try to have their say and give advice, but it is often hard to know what would be best. If you can talk with your partner about the problems you may be able to work things out together. Remind yourselves about why you want to be together, and share your hopes for the future. You will both have ideas about what might help so try and make a plan you can stick to.
Often because people want to make a fresh start and not be labelled as a step family they find it hard to ask for help or acknowledge difficulties – but it is quite normal to feel overwhelmed sometimes so don’t be afraid to ask for support either from friends, family or professionals.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How do you think the arrival of a new baby would affect the people in your family?
- What kind of things could you do to make sure everyone stays positive about the changes?
- When is a good time to talk to your partner about your feelings?