Recently, Kamal Haasan and actor Gautami Tadimalla ended their 13-year-old relationship. The reason for the split was not immediately known, but soon, news outlets started reporting that Haasan’s children had differences with his partner.
Kamal and his daughter, Shruti Haasan, are currently working together on a movie. Tadimalla is a costume designer for the same film.
Reportedly, Tadimalla and Shruti have been having regular showdowns on the sets of the movie. A few days ago, on November 1, Tadimalla announced on her blog that she and Haasan had parted ways. Though Tadimalla wasn’t married to Haasan. They were in a live-in relationship for a long time.
We can’t say for sure if there is any truth to the story, but it surely brings to light the complexities of a stepparent and stepchild relationship.
Slow and steady
Differences between stepparents and their stepchildren are not unheard of. Experts advise that instead of making a sudden announcement to your child about your new life partner or your marriage, you need to first convince the child that your relationship is in their best interest.
The child’s acceptance of the new parent is crucial. So, do you need to take any precautions if you are marrying a divorced person with kids (considering the children may not like you)? Relationship expert Kinjal Pandya says you should.
“Precautions have to be taken because children will still have the image of the parent, who is not with them anymore, etched in their minds. To replace that image with that of a new parent requires warming up sessions. So the future stepparent should spend more time with the child.
“And before tying the knot, they need to be aware of child’s likes and dislikes. Rapport-building sessions with the kid are very important, so that he or she is not intimidated by you, or feels awkward when you, say, start living with your spouse,” she says.
Make it clear
But, in spite of these efforts, many children may still not like their stepparent for reasons best known to them. The biological parent can help in such a scenario. Pandya says that often, the differences between a stepparent and a child don’t even show up easily.
She says, “Some children don’t hold either of their parents responsible for a failed marriage because even if there were differences between the parents, they were good to the child. To accept a new parent in place of the biological parent becomes more difficult in such cases.
“It’s easier to make your child understand why you remarried if the child understands the reason for the split. Then, your kid may start accepting the new parent as somebody who is a mental match to their biological parent.”
Take the lead
At times, a stepparent may also not like the stepchild. In such cases, if children are old enough, they should try sorting out their differences with the stepparent. Vidya Bansode, clinical psychologist and relationship expert, has some advice for grown-up kids.
“Be assertive and speak up for yourself. Being assertive does not mean insulting your stepparent. Express how you would like to be treated. Talk to them about the things that he or she doesn’t like about you. It could be an opportunity to bring about positive change. In extreme cases, take help from a neutral person who can intervene effectively,” she says.
On the other hand, if the stepchild is too small, the biological parent has to make sure their child is not being mistreated by the stepparent.
Bollywood’s happy stepfamilies
Salim Khan, who has four children — Salman Khan, Arbaaz Khan, Sohail Khan and Alvira Khan Agnihotri — from his first wife, Salma Khan, married Helen in 1981. Currently, the entire family lives together at their Bandra home and shares a cordial relationship. They are often spotted together at events in Mumbai.
A file photo of Junaid Khan with Kiran Rao and Aamir Khan. (HT Photo)
Junaid Khan and Ira Khan are Aamir Khan’s children from his first wife, Reena Dutta. Aamir married his second wife, Kiran Rao, in 2005. Reportedly, Kiran shares a great rapport with Reena, Junaid and Ira. This is evident from the fact that she’s often praised Reena’s parenting skills as well as Junaid and Ira in interviews.
Saif Ali Khan has two children — Sara Ali Khan and Ibrahim Ali Khan — with his first wife, Amrita Singh. He married Kareena Kapoor Khan in 2012. Both Ibrahim and Sara attended their father’s marriage to Kareena. Speaking on a talk show, Kareena, has said she feels happy to be a stepmother to Saif’s kids. Last year, Ibrahim was spotted holidaying in London, UK, with Kareena and Saif.
Farhan Akhtar and Zoya Akhtar are the children of Javed Akhtar and Honey Irani, who parted ways within a few years of their marriage. Javed married Shabana Azmi in 1984. Talking on a TV show, Zoya once said that Shabana always gave them the time and space to build a rapport. Farhan, who was also in the show, said they are close.