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The importance of maintaining bonds with half- and step-siblings

By Georgina Burrows

Georgina Burrows

Georgina Burrows

The Press has devoted many column inches to the apparent end of the marriage of singer Peter Andre and model Katie Price, aka Jordan – a relationship born and played out in the glare of publicity. The media spotlight has also fallen on their three children.

Harvey is Katie’s child by footballer Dwight Yorke and the half-brother of the two young children she and Peter had together, Junior and Princess Tiaamii. Peter has been shown on TV being a loving father figure to Harvey. It is to be hoped that he will continue to have a good relationship with the boy. All too often, step parents take no further part in a child’s life on separation from the natural parent and yet they’ve often been one of the most significant role models in the youngster’s life.

When couples break up, there have to be conversations about continuing contact – both between the adults and children and between the children themselves. When the children are half or step siblings, it can be complicated; even more so if further siblings come along as a result of one or both parents forming a new relationship. These children become the half siblings of the “original children”.

How should parents deal, post separation, with these complicated relationships? In such cases it is even more important for parents to put aside their own feelings of distress, anger and animosity to enable the children to retain bonds – and in some cases form new ones – with their siblings, half siblings and step families.

Only by having shared experiences and being allowed to grow together can children continue meaningful sibling relationships into adulthood, although sibling relationships will, in most cases, outlast the relationships with parents and step parents.

Children benefit hugely from a broad range of relationships and cope well with accepting things “as they are”.

If you are struggling to come to terms with a former partner’s new family or with allowing a former partner to remain in your child’s life, your instinct might be to make a clean break. I would urge you, however, to consider the advantages to the children. And if the children are happier, you will benefit too. The close relationships your child develops and maintains will help them progress to adulthood in a positive way – and forge life-long bonds that will help to see them through difficult times of their own.

  • Georgina Burrows is a children law specialist at Benussi & Co

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