Stepfamily Realities 14-16 - Loyalty Conflicts
The normal stepfamily structure forces bioparents to repeatedly choose between filling the needs of their new mate, one or more biokids, and sometimes their ex mate, for many years. Over time, all stepfamily adults and kids feel "caught in the middle." Repeated stepfamily loyalty and inclusion clashes and associated relationship triangles are inevitable. When they occur, no one is wrong or bad. Without effective resolution of these stressors, hurts and resentments accumulate, lowering the stepfamily's cohesion and nurturance level.
All families have loyalty conflicts. In them, one member feels caught between the opposing needs or opinions of two or more others. Stepfamily loyalty conflicts are more complex, and feel different. Instead of "You want X and our child wants Y," it's "You want (or your child wants) X and my child wants Y;" or "You want X, and my ex-mate wants Y." Usually X and Y are about child visitations, money, schooling, health, discipline, celebrations, and/or priorities.
Loyalty conflicts and triangles recur often in and between stepfamily homes. These stressors may decrease with time, if family adults evolve effective strategies to spot and resolve - or avoid - them. They need Lesson-2 skills to do this.