Q: My wife is biased against my children from my first marriage. We have four children – two from my first marriage and two from this one – but she clearly favours her own. At first she seemed to accept the older children, but lately her attitude toward them has become unfairly critical and overbearing. What can I do?
A: What you’re describing is actually quite common in blended families. These conflicts can often arise over disciplinary issues, since there’s a natural tendency for a biological parent to feel protective of his or her offspring when the new spouse seems unreasonable or harsh.
But while the problem is common, it isn’t always easy to resolve. We’d encourage you and your wife to seek professional help from a trained therapist who is skilled in working with step-families – and to do so sooner rather than later. With the challenges your children are facing as a result of the breakup of your first marriage, it’s important that you do all you can to guard them from additional stress and pressure on the home front.
Among the goals you’ll want to set for yourselves in therapy, perhaps the most important will be that of strengthening your marriage. In any family, whether original or blended, the marital relationship needs to take priority. Your counsellor can help you to get your “couple” relationship back on track and show you how to clarify the complex roles and expectations within your blended family.
You can get this process started by calling our Family Support Services at 03-7954 7920 or write to email@example.com.
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