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Step families come in all shapes and sizes – and babies change things

Tags: bringing up children, support, parent, raising, raise, kids, previous relationship, step, families, new baby, couples, changes, issues, argue, mixed feelings advice

"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?
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Comments

  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    Just realised my profile is set to be anonymous so you couldn't private message me anyway lol.
    But it doesn't look like there is a private message thingy on here.

    Mon 14, Jul 2014 at 9:43am
  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    Thanks Sierra.
    I don't think you are weak at all. Each of our situations are unique and so our decision about what's best will be different accordingly. You are doing what is right for your family and that requires a lot of strength.
    Your sons still have their father and visit him regularly whereas my son didn't have any contact with his dad so he was solely a member of my family unit which is why I actually had no choice but to leave.
    Interesting that my ex had no problem in speaking to my niece - I always said if my son was a girl there probably would be no issue and he agreed. Your partner also found it easy to accept your daughter but not the boys. I definitely think there's something to do with the 'male' thing going on which I'd love to try to understand but I just can't grasp it at all! Must be some primitive alpha male thing!
    I wish you luck for your future, I really hope it improves for you and you can one day be one big family.
    Feel free to private message me (if that's an option on this site? I don't actually know lol) xx

    If any of the moderators are reading this, do yo have any info you could post on the stepdad-stepson issue and why it can be different than stepdaughter bonds?

    Mon 14, Jul 2014 at 9:38am
  • User-anonymous sierra71foxtrot Flag

    Wow! I admire your strength and I'm glad to hear you are happy. Things are no different with me and I fear they never will be. A few situations have arisen recently that have forced me into telling my partner that if I'm ever made to choose between him and them they will always win. I have thought of leaving for the sake of the boys but i stay for the sake if the girls who are younger and i feel would suffer more. Maybe I'm just weak!!

    Mon 7, Jul 2014 at 3:21pm
  • User-anonymous sierra71foxtrot Flag

    Wow! I admire your strength and I'm glad to hear you are happy. Things are no different with me and I fear they never will be. A few situations have arisen recently that have forced me into telling my partner that if I'm ever made to choose between him and them they will always win. I have thought of leaving for the sake of the boys but i stay for the sake if the girls who are younger and i feel would suffer more. Maybe I'm just weak!!

    Mon 7, Jul 2014 at 3:21pm
  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    Hi Sierra

    Thank you for your reply, it sounds really difficult for you.
    Just to update you about my situation, I had a little girl (she's now 2 and a half). For the first 2 weeks after her birth, my partner was amazing and we were closer than ever. He was nice and relaxed around my son and I had hopes for our future together as a family.
    However after those 2 weeks, he went back to resenting my son being there and we slipped into constant arguments. Finally when my daughter was 7 months old I left him. It was really hard to find a place to rent but I'm so so happy now living with my children.
    It has been a long path with plenty of heartbreak and sadness but I'm now very much single and happy. My ex is a great dad to our little girl and has her as much as he can. My son is now 18 and is a billion times the man my ex was. I just wish I hadn't put him through that, I feel awful.
    My ex has been asking me to move back in with him (but doesn't want my son to move back there). The answer has always been no of course and I no longer even allow it up for discussion. He blames me and my son for us splitting up - he has refused to accept that his attitude towards my son has been any part of it at all!
    I have finally told is family about the situation. They had all guessed anyway since they didn't ever see him speak to or even look at my son at any family events - and they have all agreed they wouldn't tolerate it themselves.

    I hope your situation improves for you. At least your sons have each other too, it's not nice when it's just one member of the family being treated differently.
    Is your husband open to counselling? My ex wasn't unfortunately but I really feel that could help xx

    Mon 7, Jul 2014 at 12:58pm
  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    It sounds like a really difficult path to tread...torn between your love for your children and trying to make a success if your relationship.. I wonder if you have thought of having some relationship counselling....it would give you both a safe place to discuss what is going on and how you might improve the situation. From the way you describe it, your boyfriend is not finding the situation easy either. Relate and Marriage Care offer relationship counselling. What do you think?

    Mon 7, Apr 2014 at 8:59pm
  • User-anonymous sierra71foxtrot Flag

    I sympathise with you. I had 3 kids when I got together with my boyfriend. He had no children of his own and kept telling me he wanted us to have a child together and be a family. He grew close to my daughter straight away but my two boys were older so it wasnt so easy. After 2 years I fell pregnant. He was delighted and said we should all move in together. Now our daughter is 3. He still has a great relationship with my other daughter but makes no effort with my boys age 14 and 17. I feel I have 2 lives. When my other 3 go to their dad my boyfriend, our daughter and me are a little family but when the other 3 are home its me and them. My boyfriend doesnt do days out with us or anything. He used to talk about marrying me but that all stopped when we moved in together. I think he hates the idea of being stepdad to my boys. H wants me and our daughter nto go on holiday with him, but wont pay for my other kids. Its really hard. I love my kids. I love him but it just doesn't seem to work with us all together. I dont know whst what to do for the best. You never know your guy might come good.

    Wed 2, Apr 2014 at 5:00pm
  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    My boyfriend won't even speak to my son.....everytime we argue about it, he always promises to make an effort but it just never happens. I've been such a fool. We got together when my son was 13, and now he's 16.
    We all live together at my partner's house under his definite rules. He's a great guy in some ways yet so unfair in others. He comes from a very close family and wants to bring me into the fold as much as possible but whilst leaving my son out. I'm 8 months pregnant & have only just realised that he has no intention of changing his relationship with my son like I'd always hoped.
    Now I'm feeling really hopeless about the whole situation. I'm dreading the baby arriving if it highlights even more how he'll connect with his own child (this is his 1st baby) whilst not attempting to connect with my other child at all.
    I feel this baby signifies the end of us rather than the happy beginnings it should represent......

    Mon 21, Nov 2011 at 12:10am