Around 16 percent of the US kids reside in a blended family structure, which involves a step or half-sibling. Traditional families are not out of the picture right now, but the focus is shifting towards modern lifestyles. It’s the reason you should understand what are half-siblings and step-siblings.
What are stepbrothers and stepsisters?
Stepsiblings are not a blood relation but exist because one of their parents got remarried. For instance, Angelina is the divorced mother of John and Robert is the separated father of Marry. Now, what will happen if Angelina and Robert get married? John and Marry will be stepbrother and stepsister. Simple to understand. Right? So, we can conclude three things
- Stepsiblings do not share the same DNA because they are not blood-related
- Some of the people don’t consider stepsiblings as real brothers or sisters because they don’t share parents
- Homo and heterosexual marriages can also form stepsibling relations
What are half-brothers and half-sisters?
Half siblings are blood relations that are connected through one of the parents; father or mother. For instance, Angelina and Robert are married, which makes John and Marry stepsiblings. Now, if Angelina and Robert produces a new life and then named her Jane. Jane is a half-sister to Marry and John. Jane is a half-sister to John, because their mother is the same, but have different fathers. Similarly, Jane is also a half-sister to Marry because they have the same father, but their mothers are different.
- Society readily accepts half-siblings as real sisters or brothers because they share a biological relation due to their shared parent.
- Half siblings can have the same father, but different mothers and vice versa.
- These relations share one biological parent irrespective of his or her marital status
What are full siblings?
Kids from the same biological father and mother are full siblings for each other. For example, if Angelina and Robert produce another life together and names him Ben. Like Jane, Ben is a half sibling to both John and Marry. However, Jane and Ben are full siblings to each other because both of them share the same biological parents.
- Full siblings are also known as real siblings because they share the same mother and father
- The relation is not affected by the marital status of any of the parents
- Sister and brother are the common relationship names for full siblings
What Are Adopted Siblings?
Poor kids who do not share any real parent, but are legally the child of a shared parent are adopted siblings. Taking an example from the same family, let’s suppose that Angelina and Robert adopt a new kid and names him, Bruce. Now, Bruce is the adopted siblings for all the kids including John, Marry, Jane, and Ben. Bruce does not have a biological parent but will be considered as a brother by other children because he is adopted.
Challenges faced by half and stepsiblings
Blended families are different from a nuclear one. The former involves some differences between the members because it involves individuals from different backgrounds and hence, it results in differences sometimes. But, no need to worry because there are some benefits as well. First, we will discuss some of the challenges that half and step-siblings generally encounter.
Age gap: One of the major difficulties is the age gap. If the difference between the two half-siblings is more than ten years, then it could be tough for them to understand each other. Such an age gap becomes a barrier and never allows them to settle. Older individuals mention that they feel like uncle or aunt instead of brothers or sisters.
Lack of bonding between siblings to parents: Children are unable to develop close relations with people who don’t live with them. A similar situation arises when the half-sibling is living in a separate house. It mostly happens when the half-sibling is related through his or her father.
Lack of bonding between sibling to sibling: Sometimes stepsiblings are not ready for a new relationship because they are emotionally not ready. However, they don’t stand a chance because the relationship is formed by their respective parents. It generally happens when one of the siblings is older and another one is a newborn or too young to understand anything.
Feeling of privation: It’s not easy to withstand for kids when their parents separate. The feeling of loss might disturb their mind up to some extent. Then, they experience the same feelings in case a new half-sibling is born. It happens because the new baby will share the same parent.
Feeling of jealous: A new sibling can easily take away all the attention of a parent, which leads to sibling jealousy. The feeling can be even more tormenting if the step-sibling starts living with the parents that the older one cannot live with.
No feeling of home: Some of the step and half children do not find any place where they can mentally relax. Kids from separated parents never feel at home anywhere, especially if there are siblings at both homes.
Change of order: Another challenge for all the kids in a family is a loss of place. Once two families merge, there are high chances that the number of kids will change as well. Suddenly, the oldest kid in the lot is not the oldest anymore and the youngest is now a middle child. Such situations create confusion and they might develop bitterness about not being treated right.
Advantages of half and step-sibling relations
Now we know the negatives of living in a blended family, but you cannot ignore the benefits. Let’s discuss some of them.
Added fun and entertainment: If someone is not getting enough time from his or her full siblings, then a blended family might be beneficial. The situation can be even better if there is a large age difference between the two kids. In such a case, the relation can be extremely positive and more fun-filled.
Behavioral improvement: Living in a blended family does not always mean that the children will show will and behavioral issues. Many times kids show improvement after shifting to a blended family structure. It’s all depends upon how a child responds and adapts to changes that happen in his or her family.
More people to talk to and love: A blended family consists of different family members, which can include new relations like grandparents, uncles, etc. So, apart from a step or half-siblings, the child gets more people who will care for them. Kids will enjoy this bigger space, wherein they can someone to play with even when their parents are busy or not available.
How to help siblings for better bonding and adjustment?
As a parent, you can follow certain steps that will help all the kids to adjust to their new siblings and bond with each other. You cannot do everything on their behalf and you cannot even push or force them to follow rules. Still, there are helpful points to practice.
Encourage unbiased conversations: Do not ignore any of the kids. Let every child talk to you about everything, especially if someone or something is bothering them. You might think some of the issues are avoidable, but it’s not the right thought. It might be a small problem for you, but could be a big one for your kid.
Forget the name of sibling relations: You should not differentiate between the children. Moreover, encourage the kids not to use relations names inside the family. It will help to think that they are together, not from different families or parents. Calling by name is the best practice.
Teach them about equality: All the kids deserve to know that everyone is equal. No matter whether it’s about family members or the outer world, tell them to treat everyone respectfully. Let them know that love is bigger than hate. With such lessons, the children will live together without feeling any supremacy over one another.
Keep the children in discipline: Out of control kids don’t know how to bond with each other. So, it’s your primary responsibility to let them know the benefits of being punctual and disciplined. Start telling them about the house rules and how to follow the appropriate lifestyle. Correct their behavior verbally in case they forget to follow anything.
Create relations among everyone: You and your wife should spend time with every family member, including the kids. It’s important to build a relationship with all the stepchildren, but make sure you do not ignore your child in this process. Moreover, allow each of the children to make bonds with other kids in the house. For instance, you can put together two kids in the same team if they share common hobbies or interests.
Respect traditions: Keep following the old traditions, so that your kids can learn the same and never forget your values. You can create new traditions and encourage the kids to share the same with their babies. Make sure you built new values or traditions that showcases your blended family.
Work on adult relationships: Try to maintain a positive relationship with the stepchild’s other parent. With such a step, the kids will feel safe around you.
Now we are familiar with terms like step-siblings and half-siblings. There are other words to define similar relationships. However, do you think that these terms can define your family? What if two kids love and support each other, but they are stepsiblings? If two children share a great bond and cannot live alone, then are they just half-siblings?
Well, it’s time that we should think above these relations and send a message to the children that everyone needs to live together. Choose something that can bring peace to your family and that’s not the name of a relation.