A journalist who we have worked with in the past has asked for our help with an article about the impact of second families on first families which she is writing for a Sunday newspaper magazine.
She is seeking anonymous contributions from parents and (grown up) children with experience of this situation.Contributions may be posted on this thread or, if you wish to chat directly to her, please send me, Hadenoughnow, a PM with your offsite contact details.
This is what she has said about the article: “The piece is about what happens when a parent leaves the family, meets someone else and has a new child/children maybe immediately or perhaps even later in life. This is usually, but not exclusively, the father of the family. One of the questions to be explored is how can he prevent his first children from feeling that he is closer to the children he has lived with/ remained with. It may be the second children have had the opportunity to “grow up” with him in a way the first family did not.
To give an example, I have a friend who had an acrimonious divorce when her daughter was a baby - and her daughter’s relationship with her dad has always been difficult. (He has been absent for long periods/unreliable/ letting her down.) The daughter is now 18 and feels very rejected. The dad remarried and had another daughter who is now 12. She lives with her dad, he absolutely dotes on her and she is a classic daddy’s girl. My friend is worried about how this affects her daughter and long term consequences. (As she put it, ‘He prefers the other daughter simply because he knows her so much better..’ ) Obviously as parents, we are always told to love our children equally – but this is hard to show and sometimes even hard to feel when you have lived with one in a happy relationship while the other child/children have not grown up with you.. (And perhaps you have learned to be a better parent second time round!) I’m looking for mothers and fathers in either position. Has this been an issue for your children? How have you helped them with their hurt feelings? And if you are the one that has gone on to have a second family, how have you managed to prevent it being an issue?”
My stbxh always preferred our daughter to his first daughter as he left his first wife when his eldest was 1 and had no contact for a year whilst he was fighting through the courts and only had sporadic contact for the first year after that. He often said he felt like a glorified babysitter for his eldest whereas he felt like a dad to our daughter as he had been there from birth (he managed to last till she was 4!) Due to this his eldest was always very clingy with her mum, and if any changes occurred in her home life it impacted on whether she would see her dad or not. As she grew up she would spend more and more of her visits with us following me around and spending time with me and her dad would just be in the background.
When stbxh left our family home my daughter was bereft. She was 4 at the time and blamed herself and struggled an enormous amount. After the first 8 months of the split she discovered her dad had a new girlfriend and that he lived wit her and her two sons. My daughter has never questioned her dads place in his new family. She refers to his home as the girlfriends house, never her dads house. She has never asked me why he lives with children who arent his whilst his children live with different mums.
However, the relationship between my stbxh and his children have shifted now and he clearly favours his eldest now. His eldest is a tom boy and he is on pretty good terms with her mum now they have both moved on to different relationships so i think his eldest gets the most of his attention now. She''s ''easier'' because she will play golf with him and he can see her when he wants because he is friends with her mum. When my daughter is with him they stay at home watching his girlfriends son''s dvd''s. When she isnt around i have seen them out and about having lunch going shopping etc with the other 3 children.
Without a doubt second, and even third families have a huge impact on the one that went before. Relationships are sacrificed in favour of the ''new'' family because it is often easier and ''there''.
My daughters relationship with her dad is very strained, whether he see''s it or not. I dont doubt that there will come a time in the future (she''s now 5) where she may choose not to have one with him and no matter how i attempt to build bridges in his behalf it falls on deaf ears. Unfortunately this is reflective of a large part of society nowadays and swiftly becoming the ''norm''.
my only thought - and this may beyond the remit of the article is as follows...
When a child from first marriage starts to feel replaced by children of second marriage the older children not only sense they have lost the support of a parent but also their grandparents on that side, and as such, lose a large part of their adult support network at a time when they need it most.
I''ve mentioned this to my friend and she is willing for you to email her if you would like her email address then PM me.
When she was 4 her biological father had an affair and he moved in with the OW and her 2 daughters and very quickly (within a year) he had another daughter with OW. It was in the days before child support was standard and he didnt pay any for my friend. My friend and her mum and little brother lived in abject poverty. Never had holidays, hardly enough food etc.
Dad on the other hand was quite a wealthy business man and his 2nd family had a lovely life.
There was very little contact with my friend from him.
When my friend reached secondary school to her horror her Dads wifes kids were at the same school! One even in her form! This girl used to brag about going to Florida on holiday, ice skating, riding lessons etc. My friend had nothing apart from a severely depressed mum and a little brother to look after when mum wasnt able. She grew up HATING the children from the 2nd relationship, HATING the biological father and the step mother.
Recently, the biological father saw friends uncle in Tesco (of all places...lol) and asked him if he''d ask friend to contact him. Friend sent message back "go to hell". Now this is a woman in her 40''s who is still so traumatised by her father abandoning her and having another family that even curiosity wont let her see him. She says he "died" when she was 4 and thats that!
She was left by her ex for OW and history repeated itself. He had 2 children in quick succession with the OW. These younger 2 have numerous foreign holidays a year, live in a lovely big house with enough toys to stock an average Toys r us, they live very close to their grandparents. Her 2 kids say that they dont like the younger 2 because the mum (OW) talks to them nicely and to my friends 2 horribly (like a teacher would if you were being told off). Contact has often been cancelled due to Dad doing things with his "other" family.
There is also a problem with the OW not wanting Dad seeing the older children on his own. She always has to be there bringing the younger 2 as a trip to the seaside or a visit to the zoo isnt fair if the little 2 miss out (when the older 2 miss 3 beach holidays a year, a private education and a luxury pad to live in!).
With me, thankfully the father of my son went on to have 1000''s of gf''s when he left me but didnt produce another child so I havent had to cope with any of this...thank goodness!!!