More dynamics of a fused family

This week we continue our discussion of some of the numerous considerations that need to be dealt with by a fused family. We define a fused family as one where there is a father and mother and their biological children, plus one or two or three children who are not their biological offspring.

These additional children are usually close relatives whose parents may have died or are no longer capable of looking after them. In our specific case, the two children of my deceased baby brother actually call me daddy and they call Virginia mom. This is very useful and important to all of us as it means that there is little distinction between our biological children and the adopted ones. This also helps the children in their personal relationships.

An important consideration pertains to the allocation of domestic chores to the children so that they can help with house work, and also so that they can get good training in being responsible members of the family. Care needs to be taken to ensure that the adopted children are treated equally with the biological children. Any slight differentiation may be skewed as discrimination and this may cause serious problems. If it is perceived that your biological children are always allocated the easier tasks while the adopted children are made to carry out nastier or less enjoyable tasks then resentment may arise against both the parents and the favoured children. This may cause serious problems for the parents and the children in later life. This has to be avoided at all costs. A good way of preventing this from ever happening is to rotate the duties among the children over a period of say, a week. Children are very good at observing their parents behaviour.

As good parents, we have learnt that it is not good to shout at your children regardless of what bad thing they may have done. In a fused family, care needs to be taken not to shout at the children at any time. There is the real danger that if you shout at children you will tend to shout loudest at the adopted children and less so at your biological children. Here again the children will notice the differentiation and begin to resent you and the child that you are lenient with. The reverse side of this situation is where you may be so lenient with the adopted children that your biological children take note and resent the adopted ones. Therefore the best approach is not to shout at children and to treat them equally at all times. I know that mothers find this advice quite difficult to comply with. They spend more time with the children that fathers do.

A good parent will always try and find some time to spend with the children. In a fused family, the temptation is to spend more time with your biological children rather than with the adopted children. Our advice is to try and ensure that you spend an equal amount of time with both groups of children. If you are driving to the shops, take both the adopted child and the biological one. This may mean having to persuade one child to com e with you when they would have preferred to stay. There is a place for letting them stay behind and there is also a place for insisting that they should come with you. You must always remember that sometimes the preference to stay is a statement that after all you prefer to go with your biological child. You need to defuse this assumption as quickly as you can for the sake of good family relations. It is not easy, but it is equally doable.

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