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Update - therapist and child-centric second fam

ITB2012's picture

I posted that in a previous session my therapist made an aside about children coming first in a second family. Today was my next appointment. I led with that comment and didn't give her any leads like "so did you mean X".

She made a statement that in a first family the couple is the "we" and the children exist and are part of that "we." In a second family the bio parents are still the part of the "we" the child identifies with and they do not see the stepparent as part of that "we." By default in most second families since all parents need to get along well, and probably the children need to see the stepparent as part of their lives from a very early age for that person to be incorporated into the child's "we." And it's by default, and not ideal or sometimes even livable. So she wasn't saying that's the way it should be, she said that's the way the kids look at it and it causes issues.

We talked a bit more. Her observation was from the child's point of view, not that parents should drop whatever they are doing with others (including their spouse) to cater to the children (or the ex).

I'm tentatively okay with it and the rest of the session. I will do another one. If she makes another statement that's similar we are going to stop and go down that road to see what she says in the moment.


Monkeysee's picture

I agree with this. I’ve been a part of my SS’s lives since they were young, they’re still young but I’m definitely not a part of the ‘we’. My husbands SF has been in his life for decades, he barely remembers life without him, and yet he’s still not really part of the ‘we’. He is with the grandkids, but not with my husband or his brother, which I think is sad. They care for him but he’s definitely not ‘we’ the way his BP’s are.

I don’t think DH had even wished him a happy father’s day until I came along, despite the many many things his SF has done for him over the years. I can easily see this being the case with me & my SS’s as they grow up. Hopefully when they have kids I’ll be an equal grandparent the way DH’s SF is, but who knows if that’ll be the case. 

I think it’s incredibly rare for a SP to ever be a part of ‘we’. Why that pressure for a SP to behave like ‘we’ when they really aren’t is beyond me. 

justmakingthebest's picture

I feel like this therapist is looking at things from multiple angles and not saying that things "should" be any certain way. That they just are sometimes this way and that it makes for more challenges. Hopefully these sessions can help you guys!! 

ESMOD's picture

So.. she is saying that basically.. chronologically.. the kids are their first and view themselves as "first".. and therefore possibly see themselves as they should be a higher priority than the person who came "second".. ie the stepparent and stepsiblings?

ITB2012's picture

It's just how kids probably process the situation.

In my head I'm thinking: yeah, and that's another good reason why second families are not "blended" families. And people shouldn't push the people to be a single family unit.

SeeYouNever's picture

This reminds me of when SD11 started calling BM and her husband "my parents." This upset my DH a lot but it looks like the stepdad became part of the "we" while DH and I were on the outside. Of all of her family members on BM and DH's side I think he and I are her least favorite. 

Harry's picture

Second partner must be treated with respect.  They also have feelings.  Kids may think they come first, but bio parents must teach them it's not equal.  There a difference between adults and kids.   Kids do not get adults statuses .   They are not equal or above there parents partner.  

GoingWicked's picture

I don't think there's a ton of issues when bio parents put their kids first, when it means they're putting their children's best interest first, which would include respect for others, discipline, teaching them to be functional adults.  I think the problem is that bio parents spend a lot of time putting themselves first, their feelings, their guilt, and the kid is put into a position where they have to learn to manipulate their parents emotions to get their needs met.  Which might from a stepparent's point of view look like the bio parent is favoring the kids or putting them first, but they're really not.