What do you think of living together

Living together in different family forms

Parents and children living in Germany in different family forms together. How good are their chances of success and what about the well-being of the children?

For most people, the family is central to their lives. The question of a successful life is therefore often related to the success of family life. The compatibility of work and family life is also important in all types of families.

Today family means the long-term coexistence of two generations in different constellations. In addition to the so-called nuclear family, there is also the one-parent family, the second family and the so-called blended family (this means living together in second families with children from the respective first marriage and additional children together).

  • 78.4% of all children in Germany live with their biological and married parents. The nuclear family is still the most important family form.
  • 13.1% are children of single parents.
  • 5.6% of all children live in second families (step families) and
  • 2.9% of the children live with both biological unmarried parents.

There can therefore be no question of the dissolution or loss of meaning of the "family" life form. Family life is also very important to adolescents and young adults.

Which Qualities and Risks do the different types of families hold?

First and foremost it comes down to that Quality of family ties at.

Although the legal form is quite important with regard to the durability of coexistence, most people also in the core families, but certainly tend to leave the Question of the quality of relationships direct when they consider family life to be of very high value.

Satisfaction with the partnership and living together with the children becomes "the measure of all things". Succeeds understanding, then living together in the family can also be successful. (However, it is in the nature of communication that you do not know beforehand whether and how the conversation will succeed).

The nuclear family is particularly successful if all those involved in the various phases of the family develop together and the associated conflicts are well resolved. Parents have the chance to develop together with their children. In the nuclear family, it is not primarily about the "ideal family", but about opportunities for living together in everyday life. The importance of a regular dinner together for the cohesion of the family should therefore not be underestimated.

To have single parents worse odds? According to the research available, single parents see their risks not so much in the quality of the bond with the children, but rather in the financial worries associated with this type of family. It is generally assumed that the "missing father" makes the development of children more difficult. However, the life satisfaction of "solo mothers" often does not differ from that of those who live in a marriage, if sufficient financial means are available. The situation is worse for single parents who are affected by poverty, either because the father pays no maintenance or because caring for the children does not allow them to work for a limited time or at all. Many single parents experience a partnership crisis during pregnancy or in the child's first years of life, i.e. in a phase in which cohesion is particularly important. The life situation is particularly difficult for young single mothers without school or professional qualifications and without other caregivers for the child. So it is sometimes your own living conditions that are more of a concern than the upbringing of a child. However: only every third single parent looks after the children alone. With the others, the other birth parent, a new partner or even your own parents help out. "Single parent - but not left alone" is a helpful motto in life for these parents.

Separation and divorce - a permanent trauma, or a chance for peaceful coexistence?

30 to 40% of all marriages are divorced (the different percentages are related to regional differences). So many couples experience the failure of their life plans. Nevertheless, the following applies: "Parents remain parents". The decisive factor is how the parents manage to remain cooperative as a couple, even if the spouse comes into conflict, is considering separations or is living in a divorce. The idea of ​​"separation trauma" must therefore be replaced by the question of coping with family crises. Constant quarrel (or speechlessness) between the parents attacks the children's soul, regardless of whether they live together or separately. If both parents "pull" on the child, this leads to an inner turmoil in the child. The risk of long-term psychological stress is particularly given if the conflict between the separated / divorced parents continues. However, if reliable agreements can be reached in favor of the child, the children will recover from the stress of a separation much better. The art is to live "separately - together" for the benefit of the children.

Second families (formerly also called "stepfamilies" / today often also called blended families) often plan to be a "normal family" at the beginning of their coexistence. The partners get to know each other - and at the same time the children are there. This is not a "normal" life situation, but something special. Will the new partner be accepted by the children? How should "he" or "she" be addressed? Who has what to say Do the children worry about losing their own mother or father to another adult or are you looking forward to a new quality of friendship in living together? "My - your - our children" it takes time to form a new family out of this, and one should be aware of the special structure in this form of coexistence. Then the chances increase that this form will succeed. In the "failed second family" it has often not been possible to integrate the new partner as a parent, which also puts a strain on the adult's love relationship. The "extended second family" turns out to be most beneficial for the child's welfare. This means that the children still have the opportunity to have contact with both parents. The newly added adult is more likely to be seen as a "friend" (and possibly also addressed by first name).

But one should not neglect that things can get quite complicated for children if new "grandparents" join the new adult at the same time, or new families and friends, possibly new children together. Who then belongs to whom and in what way? Who celebrates a birthday or Christmas with whom? Who pays for what? That is why the expression is also used for this Patchwork family (Patchwork is also the term for a patchwork quilt). The Berlin pastor and advisor Manfred Koschorchke describes this as follows: "Twelve-year-old Michael lives there with his mother, but regularly visits his father on weekends. His new wife has brought two daughters into the marriage who spend every other weekend with her father, who in turn lives with his girlfriend and her child. Michal's mother married a man Michael has been living with for five years now. He likes him very much - if it weren't for Niko, 14 years old, the son of his mother's husband from his first marriage, Michael’s father has to take care of him again and again because Niko lives with his mother with her new partner and doesn't get along with Niko. In addition, Michael's current parents have had a girl, Michael's four-year-old sister Caroline. "


Above all, children need reliable and manageable relationships - adults too. This applies to all types of families and beyond. Reliability is the basis of trust

Johannes Böhnke
Graduated social pedagogue, Cologne
[email protected]