– “Doctor…Choosing ice cream flavors can be a real challenge—takes a lot of negotiation.”
Maria X. is a nice middle-aged lady that has been married twice already and has offspring from both relationships. She has two teenage daughters for her first marriage and Victor, her present husband, has two teenage sons from a previous bonding; they both had had a small daughter. Nowadays the family relationships cannot be solely explained by the traditional tree as there are more crossed relationships from remarried partners, homosexual marriages and adopted children.
The typical image of the stepmother as “a witch bent on mischief on her adopted children” is far from the reality sur le champ where young kids get oftentimes more attached to a close mother figure that their more distant biological one. Similarly, young children often revere more a father figure that helps them with their homework or plays baseball with them than their biological one. Sometimes the breakup of relationships entails the forced adaptation of children to another hearth and to another company without having much say in their parents’ sexual and amorous choices.
The assembly of these composite groupings occurs rather spontaneously as there is not a rational pre-planification of “who will be who”; the gregarious nature of humans makes us seek company. Everything is not always rosy as there are power disputes as in any large human grouping, eventually creating internal cliques and sub-groups; their genetic similarities will not guarantee that Maria’s two teenage daughters will see eye to eye in all their daily choices and dilemmas. She told me that one of them is much closer to the eldest son of Victor and supports him passionately.
Planning their daily chores, their weekend leisure activities, their yearly vacations and something as mundane as who gets to enter the bathroom first in the morning must be negotiated carefully. The members of the group must develop varying grades of tolerance for each other all the time. First of all, the parents must learn to love and show their sincere affection for children who are not biologically related to them but share the same hearth besides present and future family objectives. The siblings must learn how to be equitable in their dealings with each other, avoiding clannish attitudes that might damage the overall trust that young people demand from those close to them.
According to Maria and Victor, sometimes they have rough moments but so far, they have been able to avoid intractable situations that would poison their daily interactions; the fact that they are both professionals earning good income and with extensive social connections made a difference. They claim that their extended family is just a microcosmos of the much more problematic and larger inter-ethnic and multi-cultural environment of South Florida where we all live at present.
We wholeheartedly agree that this family constitutes a great example of how people from different backgrounds can eventually learn how to coexist in a closed environment for the common good. It is only natural that we tend to seek the company of people who are similar to us in the private sphere, especially when we are seeking a steady couple relationship. Things run much smoother. However, we should take a more open and tolerant attitude when we enter into the public sphere.
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.
9 thoughts on “Yours, mine, ours”
Dr. Sahib, thanks for sharing a different scenario in the relationship. There are occasions when this like situation comes about but all depends on the thinking of the step-parents and step-children – how best they adjust amongst themselves firstly depends on the relationship that the step-parents emphasize or maintain including how they can explain them the importance of compatibility between the children in the family.
The first step would be how much of love the new parents love each, believe each other and how best they can put positive feelings in all the children. Although it is easily said than done but there is nothing impossible if a sincere effort is made by both parents. The true lessons in maintaining relationship are to be understood by all.
In all your write-up there is a lesson which all of us should understand and act in a way which is good for all parties in the family.
With warm hugs
Good morning caro Il Chiaro and thanks for your nice commentary. Yes, I do try to bring positive messages about the family system because I believe that, even with its flaws, it is the best form of human aggregation that help us survive the tough battles we face. Even in our modern, supposedly liberated societies the family unit is still our preferred refuge by far. A big hug across the oceans. Arrivederci!
Good morning Dr. Sahib,
I am in agreement with you, our family is a uniting factor and it bestows us the purpose of life. Without it, we become just like a rudderless boat. There are the ‘flaws’ and we get enjoyment in rectifying those flaws with cooperation and with understanding with each and everybody in the family. No matter how much advanced and modern in outlook we become yet the satiety and joy we get in sharing our fortune or misfortune in the family is second to none; and that is in any society to that matter.
Good morning dear Il Chiaro and thanks for this nice commentary, my dear spiritual friend across the oceans. a big hug. Arrivederci!
Good morning Dr. Sahib.
A BIG HUG TO YOU AS WELL
In my opinion, it all depends on parents. If a couple decides to separate/get divorced and the kid is small, they have to make sure it understands that although mom and dad stopped loving each other, that does not mean they stopped loving it. Let’s say, they still love each other but differently, as friends.
Some friends of mine have established an excellent relationship with their step parents. Even when say a dad moves and remarries, and has children with his new wife, I think it’s great when kids stay in touch.
It didn’t happen to me tough, that is my dad’s daughter from his first marriage whom I saw few times, literally. Her mom obviously made sure she hates her dad, I guess, the way she herself hated him for leaving her. We did try at a later point in life, when we were grown up and mature enough to understand certain things, or so I thought. But, as you said nicely “it is only natural that we tend to seek the company of people who are similar to us.” And my god, she is everything I hate-demeaning, aggressive, jealous etc. And yes, so mean to my mom, that I thought it was too immature and unfair, so I scolded her online (playing by her rules) and moved on…without her. No regrets.
I’ll be away next week dear, don’t miss me too much.
Talk to you when I get back.
OH…NO…SHE’S BACK !!! Let me ignore her for a while to see if she goes away. Bon voyage! Don’t bother to write or text….TA-TA-TA (British salute in honor of that lovely modern couple, Megan and Harry)
Enjoy the royal wedding, dear.