Depending on many factors, it may take an average minor child many years to
adjust to the changes and losses from family reorganization. Kids whose
stepfamily breaks up must fill these needs a second time - often before
filling the first group of them. Numbering continues from above.
Typical minor girls and boys in
divorcing families and stepfamilies need to...
sense out of (a) why one parent left them and (b) why their biofamily came apart;
_ 40) Accept
that they didn't cause their biofamily reorganization;
_ 41) Change
their views of one or both parents from hero/ine to “flawed and still
lovable” special adults. This need may include forgiving one or both parents
for change-related pain and loss;
psychological bonds), over years. Parental
dwelling changes and
visitations may cause waves of losses
for adults and children;
("I did bad things that made them divorce")
["I’m too bad of a person, so Dad (Mom) left me / us"];
and enforce firm new personal
the child needs to separate themselves from their parents' and relatives
anxiety, needs, and conflicts, without undue guilt, anxiety, and shame;
that adult caregivers and authorities will not reject or abandon them,
despite the child’s major problems and (self-perceived) "flaws";
_ 46) Build new trust that living bioparents and key sibs and relatives are
safe, healthy, and happy enough after the separation and divorce/s.
More common kids' adjustment needs...
_ 47) Adjust
to many new
and living conditions, including (eventual) parental dating, and new
post-separation responsibilities - like taking more care of their home,
themselves, younger sibs, and/or an overwhelmed bioparent.
This need often is compounded by learning new and sometimes
clashing roles and rules in two bioparental homes, plus evolving
inter-home visitation rituals.
If a child
came from a significantly
will probably shuttle between two low-nurturance homes after parents
separate. There are exceptions!
Cope with one or both
bioparents using them as a weapon, spy, confidant, lure, or courier
in ongoing relations with their other bioparent and/or key relatives.
This is specially likely when parents battle
in court over child support, custody, and/or visitations; and
when one or both bioparents verbally attack or revile the other parent
in front of the child. Kids also must...
their personal and family
over time to "OK divorced (or bereaved) [ boy / son /
brother / relative ] or [ girl / daughter / sister / relative ]";
and use other healthy adult nurturance if
their bioparents are too
and/or distracted. This is specially vital if their custodial bioparent is
significantly wounded, unaware, and/or overwhelmed.
And over time, typical minor kids of divorce or
parent-death need to...
_ 51) Re/build
authentic feelings of personal security + confidence + optimism + hope
for (a) their future as a whole, and (b) becoming a competent adult, spouse,
wage-earner, and (potential) parent.
"Rebellious" and "defiant" kids of
divorce are often really grieving
their losses and/or testing for security and status in
their reorganized family. They may also be controlled by one or more angry
wounded adults can shame such kids for these unconscious behaviors.
+ + +
How long do you think the average child of parental divorce or death would
take to fill their mix of these 13 adjustment needs, while progressing on
their 27 developmental needs, burdened by up to six unseen psychological
If their Mom or Dad re/marries
after divorce or mate death, average minor kids are further burdened by...
mix and complexity of stepfamily-adjustment needs for a given child
depends on many
factors. Key factors are the nurturance-levels of their pre and
post-divorce homes, schools,
churches, activities, and
These new adjustment
needs usual overlap the child's developmental and other needs,
so numbering continues from the above.
Accept less (custodial) bioparental
attention and accessibility. For
teens, this coincides with the growing need to socialize with friends
and develop appropriate independence;
Redefine (a) personal and (b)
and (c) decide clearly "
now?" And typical stepkids also need to...
_ 54) Evolve
and stabilize several to
Learn, stabilize, and rank
many alien stepfamily
(e.g. stepchild, stepsib, step-grandchild, etc.) Three-generational
biofamilies can have 15 common roles (mother, father, brother, uncle...).
Multi-home stepfamilies can have
and adjust to new privacy and
sexual conditions in their home/s;
and they also need to...
_ 57) Continue
old losses and start mourning a complex set of new
invisible losses from the ending of
their prior living situation and
several multi-generational biofamilies over several years.
"acting out" may be the anger phase of healthy grief, and/or appropriate
testing of their adults' leadership, boundaries, unity, and power.
Detach from anyone's disapproval of (a)
their parent's re/marriage and/or
cohabiting, and/or (b) the child's acceptance of her or his new
And new stepchildren also need to...
_ 59) Learn
clearly and accept...
What are the
and consequences in my
of each of my co-parenting homes?
How much power and
status do I have now in each home, and what roles am I expected to
play (e.g. peacemaker,
entertainer, black sheep, star, ...) - by whom?
How do I handle the
differences in the rules, roles, and consequences between my two
co-parenting homes? Restated: how do I react to webs of
conflicts and relationship