Life in a Patchwork Family
"Weekend fathers, half-time mothers, half-siblings"
A lot of children, three couples and three different
stages of development on the way to becoming a
patchwork family - these make up the
documentary by Rike Fochler. She shows that a
patchwork family is not formed from one day to
the next. On the contrary, if half-time mothers,
weekend fathers, children and step-children,
siblings, half-siblings and step-siblings want to
grow into a family, often worlds collide - with
different rituals, habits, values and views about
upbringing. New shared rules need to be
negotiated - a Sisyphean task under the
circumstances, and confrontations with
ex-partners are practically unavoidable.
And when new mutual offspring are added to the
already delicate "fusion" of one's own children
with step-children, chaos often reaches its peak.
Jealousy, hurt feelings, arguments, and tension
make the beginnings of shared domestic life far
There are no tested models for how the roles in
these families might best be distributed; do not
exist. In fact, patchwork families have only
recently begun to be the subject of study.
This is very different from earlier foster families
where a deceased parent was replaced following
the casualties of war or the death of the mother
in child birth, today's patchwork families involve
one or even multiple key players. But how should
these multiple mothers, fathers and grandparents
work together? How should the children cope with
the varying rules in the two different households
in which they often live? Who has the right to
discipline them, and what say do stepmothers or
fathers have in all of this?
"In our society, people often complain about the
trend toward the selfish life of singles," says Rike
Fochler. " But there is also a trend towards
patchwork families. And this trend is not thinkable
without mutual respect, tolerance and the
willingness to make compromises and cooperate
on all sides."
Using three examples, Rike Fochler sheds light on
the development and life of patchwork families,
whose members are very open in describing the
hurdles and possibilities, struggles and joys,
failures and successes of their patchwork lives.