A new baby

Growing together in the new family takes time

Patchwork Families

The variety of modern family forms includes the patchwork family. When singles with children from previous partnerships form a new family, things are usually turbulent. If joint offspring are then announced once again, this is also an immense adjustment for all those involved, in addition to great happiness.


What is a patchwork family?

Patchwork families arise when one parent starts a new partnership after a separation. Many colorful variants can arise, for example, when parents bring their children into the relationship. Sometimes joint offspring are also announced once again. This may turn the older children into half-siblings. This news does not always trigger immediate enthusiasm among all those involved. After all, the web of relationships in a patchwork family can be complicated.

Looking forward to the baby - but bad mood in the family?

When joint offspring are born into the patchwork family, the roles and relationships shift again. The separation of the biological parents probably still causes problems for children. In the future, they will also have to share love with the baby of the family. Parental roles also have to be renegotiated and a way of dealing with parents from previous partnerships has to be found. The claim to meet the needs of the first and second family in the best possible way cannot always be fulfilled.

How do the older children react to the joyful news?

"Does daddy love the baby more than me?", "Does mommy still have time for me?", "Is the baby possibly preferred?" Especially the future (half) siblings often find it difficult to be happy about the baby news. Too great is the fear that the new baby will be loved more than they are. Perhaps fear, jealousy and anger spread, or the sibling is seen as competition. In principle, it is not easy for younger children to accept that in the future the love of their parents will have to be shared when there is an offspring. In the patchwork family, children may find it even more difficult.

How can parents face their children's fears?

Especially in the beginning, the new baby will attract all the attention. Even during pregnancy, therefore, parents are asked to give their patchwork children a lot of attention and to signal that they will continue to be there for them, that they love the children just as much as before, that no one will be favored or disadvantaged. And the children should also have the chance to love their new sibling unconditionally.

How do parents from a previous partnership deal with the new situation?

New love or even pregnancy puts a stab in the heart not only of the children, but perhaps also of the parent from a previous relationship. Hurt feelings, worries about finances, or fears that the older children will be neglected spread. Even though this is a difficult situation, discuss your concerns in private. Don't speak ill of the other parent in front of your children. Children want to love all parents - even after a separation.

What role conflicts may arise in the new partnership?

Starting or expanding a family with your new love is a great happiness. Stay calm if instead of family idyll there are sometimes jealousies and conflicts. This happens in the best families. Also accept that the children from the previous relationship will always remain an important part of life.

Tips for growing together in the patchwork family

Ahead of time: Every patchwork family is different and must find its own way for living together. However, these tips can be a guide for you on how growing together in the patchwork family can succeed:

  • Explain to your child in an age-appropriate way why it is important to you to enter into a new relationship. Make him feel that you love him just as much as ever.
  • Talk to your child about his fears and anxieties about the newly formed family and the new offspring. Ask the child about his or her needs and be careful not to stir up any insecurities.
  • Even if time is actually always too short: the older child still needs the usual attention when the offspring is there. Take exclusive moments to show: You are as important to me as the new partnership and the baby.
  • If your child lives with the other parent: remain available, always offer contact and keep appointments as well as visitation weekends absolutely. This way you show that it is as important to you as the newborn.

Where do we find advice when things get tough?

In every family there is potential for conflict, and this also applies to the colorful family life in the patchwork family. If the problems grow beyond your head, you can seek professional advice. State and church educational and family counseling centers can help with various counseling and support services. Through the online portal of bke-Elternberatung, the Federal Conference for Educational Counseling, you can get professional advice and find exchange with other patchwork families in the forum.

More information Links for further reading

In the parents' forum of bke-Elternberatung you will find various online discussion forums and testimonials on the topic of patchwork families.

On the federal family portal you can find information about custody and access rights in patchwork families.

Tips for fathers who live separately are available on the portal www.vaeter.nrw.