I have always wondered as to how Shobha De, the said-to-be Jackie Collins of India manages her extended family. It’s quite a large family you know, with children from her ex husband and children of her current husband and then another child (or is it two?) from her current marriage. It already is such an uphill task maintaining harmony in a family with a kid or two today. Hats off to her.
But then, this is not some tribute to Shobha De, it is about the concept of a stepfamily that is catching on in many places. Although we still have people marrying once and raising a family with children born from the same parent there are instances when a man or woman marries the second time and either brings in his/her son/daughter from the previous marriage. Then, it becomes a double responsibility and connecting task for the spouses. Unless, efforts had been taking while courtship, marrying into a family already with a child can really be very taxing. You not only have to adjust to a mate’s sense of space, you also have to be sensitive to the whims, fancies and emotions of a child who is biologically not yours. It is easier when you marry when you are older and all your children are settled. At such a juncture it does not matter what your son’s/daughter’s families think about your new ‘liaison!’ It also keeps you from shirking some parental responsibility when your biological child is growing up with your ex-spouse and you only have to make weekly or monthly visits and pay for the maintenance.
In the US and in some other countries, such families (where you marry with a brood of children already in waiting) are known as step families or blended families. It is more of a general occurrence there as most of the families do not insist on a strong family base like we have in India. It is a different matter that we in India are now taking pride in adopting many of the temporary and materialistic Western concepts including live-in relationships, marriage of conveniences and worthless and whimsical divorces! So, in India too we have step families, but in another context.
When a spouse passes away suddenly and a child needs a mother/father, when a growing son/daughter needs the guidance of a sit-at- home mother – such instances usually invite a second marriage here. Of course, as society advances, reflexes fail, tempers and egos rise, reasons for ending a marriage and going in for another also take place. Here, people may often go in for a (or let’s put it like this – fall for) another person who has already experienced marriage or who does not mind getting married to someone who has a kid in tow.
We may have been told cruel stories about step moms but not all step parents are bad. Many just want to relate to you and connect. Imagine what a difficult task they have, love their husbands/wives, cater to their needs, respect (or, at least show respect) to the ex relatives, current relatives of their spouse and also show love (at least pretend to initially) to their step children.
Many a time, in the course of building up a relationship with the children, the relationship with the spouses could take a back seat leave one wondering whether this what one actually wanted with the conflicts, rejections, resentment, stress and trials.
All the same, it is a fact, that a step family, though a wee bit different from the usual traditional family has more challenges making it more fun. You get a whole new set of perspectives and find unique ways to stay together as one family unit, something which we may take for granted in a traditional family. In a step family, one is willing to take the trouble to make the family work together as a team because there are more chances of breaking even before forging, of rejection even before acceptance.
For all the people who live in a step family or should I say a ‘blended family’ either as step fathers, step mothers, step daughters or step sons, a step family unit is the Almighty’s second chance to you to experience the happiness and joy of a family.
Happy Step Family Day!