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"Anti-breeder" is now a Step-Dad - Page 2

Poll Results: Do you really love the step-kids?

 
  • 45% (14)
    Yes!
  • 16% (5)
    They are growing on me.
  • 9% (3)
    I like them a lot.
  • 29% (9)
    I tolerate them.
31 Total Votes  
post #21 of 37
I am a new breeder who loves kids but isn't crazy about babies. Learning developmental stages has helped me to connect with her. You might want to apply your psych hat that way, as getting a foundation in development is helping me attachment parent because I understand where my child is coming from.
I also think you need to have a talk with your partner about her expectations to be fair to her and her kids. Kids can be a huge stressor on a relationship, and you can't carry your share of the load if you heart isn't in it. Hoping you are able to develop a wonderful relationship with the kids, too.
post #22 of 37
Don't let yourself get stuck in the role of disciplinarian.

That's the biggest mistake you can make as a step-parent. Discipline has to be done by the parent while you're establishing your own place in the family.

Don't be afraid to ask for help if you don't know how to deal with something. I think a lot of step-parents are ashamed to ask for help because they think they should be able to handle things on their own, but we're all dealing with so much baggage from other people's marriages we'd be crazy to not ask for help, yk?

It's better to work things out when they're small than to let them get completely out of hand.

If there are relatives who compete for the children's affections, don't get sucked into trash talking. Also, make sure you and mom are a united front, don't let them play the game of asking one of you something and then asking the other if they don't like the answer they got, always consult each other, and always back each other. Don't play good cop/bad cop.

I was an infertile nonbreeder who became a mom at 35 and a stepmom at 42, so I know what you mean. It's all very strange. For me, infants don't usually thrill but I think they're cute, toddlers are the coolest people under the sun, 4 to 6 are still fun, 7 to 9 less fun, tweens and teens are for the most part like adults, some annoy me to no end and some I like a lot. Everyone I know feels differently about the different stages of parenting, so nobody can really tell you how it will be for you, you just have to jump in and go for it. You're one up on me because you found this place before you had a chance to make mistakes.

I think the biggest mistake anyone can make in parenting is assuming they know everything. As long as you keep asking questions and looking for answers you'll do fine.
post #23 of 37
Love isn't just a feeling, but an action. So, you can choose to show love to people through your actions, even though you may not feel bonded to them. You can treat them with respect, be their friend, etc. You shouldn't rush into the situation expecting to play the role of a parent immediately! Definitely leave the discipline to the mother.


Also, stop psychologically analyzing your interactions with them. Don't think about their personalities, reactions, etc, in such a technical way. They aren't patients or subjects you're studying...they're real people with hearts. Don't be afraid to let go and just hang out with them. Don't talk yourself out of fulfilling friendships with them just because you've never liked children. Your relationship with these children doesn't have to be determined by your past. Learning to love these children (if that happens) also doesn't mean you have to be fond of all children.
post #24 of 37
If you take on the discipline before you've established any kind of bonds it actually hampers the growth of your relationship with your step-kids. Resentment grows before you have a chance to form any bonds. It's important to form a relationship before you jump in as an authority figure.

And I don't know if anyone can tell you exactly when the moment is right for the transition, either.
post #25 of 37
Thread Starter 

Continued Thanks!

Again, all of your postings are adding more insight. Now that I know the shorthand, it is a big help as well. I must admit that even though I am a very intelligent individual, the thought of all that must be learned and executed is very frightening. I know that I can never get it perfect, but there seems to be so many ways to get it wrong. I congratulate all of you who have stable, and loving children. It is quite a feat.
post #26 of 37
Kudos to you for being smart enough to think about it beforehand.

I think too many people wade in blindly expecting everything to just work itself out.
post #27 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakoala View Post
Again, all of your postings are adding more insight. Now that I know the shorthand, it is a big help as well. I must admit that even though I am a very intelligent individual, the thought of all that must be learned and executed is very frightening. I know that I can never get it perfect, but there seems to be so many ways to get it wrong. I congratulate all of you who have stable, and loving children. It is quite a feat.
I've read all the posts in this thread and it is, without a doubt, the most personally meaningful thread I've read/posted to since I've been part of the MDC community.

I feel your trepidation and anxiety viscerally. I am a person who, despite having children, probably has the "non-breeder gene." (My conscious decision to have children of my own is another story for another day, or maybe an off-line conversation.)

The other parents here will vouch for the fact that I love my step-children and care for them in the same way that I care for my own biological children.

But I have a secret that I don't often share with others because, in light of my lifestyle, it is embarrassing and difficult to explain. My secret is that I don't particularly like other people's children. I am not drawn to children. I like my non-child-centered activities. I don't often choose to do activities with my kids or step-kids that would necessitate us being around other children. Other people's kids don't make me feel warm and fuzzy, I don't feel particularly drawn to babies and I don't find schools, day-cares or summer camps charming or cute.

MY DH and I each have two children from our previous marriages. We both share custody with our ex-spouses and I often choose not to be home in the evenings when my step-children are at the house, but my biological children are not.

That said, I'm a good mother and a good step-mother. The feelings I have for my step-children are genuine and I never feel the need to pretend to have feelings that I don't. I truly love them.

I feel confident that you can make a relationship with this lovely mama work.

My advice is four-fold:

1. Take care of yourself. Make sure you continue to spend time, effort and money pursuing your own non-child-centered interests. You will be a better person when you ARE around the kids if you don't force yourself to be there when you'd rather not. DO NOT sacrifice your own happiness and fulfillment to make this relationship work, because if you do, it won't.

2. I came to love my step-children not because they are children or even because they are the children of the man I love. I fell in love with my step-children because they are wonderful PEOPLE. I feel very confident in saying that had I ever felt any kind of dislike for my step-children, I would not have continued the relationship with DH (then my BF). Not liking his kids would have been a deal-breaker for me. I recognize that this is a very personal choice and that there are other step-parents who have very successful marriages without particularly liking their step-children. I knew that *I* could never live with people I didn't like - children or not. My advice is that you make an effort to get to know your love's children as PEOPLE. Yes, of course, children come with a certain brand of neediness that grown-ups don't, but they're still people. If you find that you don't like the kids, you should very seriously consider leaving the relationship.

3. BE PATIENT. Just as you don't develop a relationship with adults overnight, you won't develop one with kids overnight either. Take things very slowly. Do not scold or discipline your darling's kids. Be a good listener. Take your cues from the kids. They'll let you know how involved they want you to be in their lives. Always be kind to them. If you feel angry or frustrated, get away and get some space. At first, it's very important that you don't put yourself in the position of having to be overly responsible for the kids. Always leave yourself an out. It's really okay. It doesn't make you a bad person or a bad partner. And BE PATIENT.

4. Keep talking to your partner. Don't leave things unsaid. It sounds like you two are already good communicators, so it likely won't be a problem, but KEEP TALKING.

Good luck, my fellow non-breeder. If this is the journey you're supposed to take at this time, it will be evident.
post #28 of 37
My Dh wasnt that into kids but he was kind and generous and had a willing heart. 11 years later he love my boys like they are his own is their sole provider and would go to the end of the earth for both of them he also decided we should have one of our own
post #29 of 37
Read, "Holding onto your kids: why parents need to matter more than peers"
I know by the title it doesnt sound like what you are asking about, but it talks about how attachment happens and how the relationship has to be made with the child before you can parent, a fact that a lot of step parents or fosterparents or teachers often miss. Just being willing to parent a child isnt sufficent, you need the child to LET you parent them....by establishing a relationship. And its written by a child psychiatrist so its right up your ally and you wont have any trouble reading it.
post #30 of 37
Thread Starter 

More thank you's

Mild Adventurer,

A very wonderful posting. Thank you. I will heed all your advice. Yes, I do have a habit of being overly committed sometimes. It would be easy for me to sacrifice my own life and then get bitter. It is a character 'trait' that I have to keep a careful eye on.

Anglyn,

Thank you for the book reference. My DF (did i get fiancee right?) took me to Borders and got "The Discipline Book: How to have better behaved children, from ages 1 to 10; by William and Martha Sears" But, I will get your book as well. Suggestions always welcome!

Everyone,

Your posts are some of the most interesting reading I have done lately. It is very interesting to see non-breeders step forward. Coming out of the non-breeder closet in this society is tough enough, coming out here, in a mothering forum is truly an amazing display of courage.
post #31 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakoala View Post
Again, this has been a very rewarding thread for me. I heed the warnings, and the mother and I are "feeling out" the relationship. I will propose that there are personality types that love children easily. Many of you are exactly that type. I will be curious to see how my own emotions evolve over time. One thing is clear, the bio-dads are not coming into the picture again. So, even if I leave, the male influence won't increase. Also, Mom was not looking for a life mate when I showed up, so it is unlikely that another male will be easily brought in.

Breeder, thank you so much for the terms. I am glad I have a break between classes right now to get "up to speed" on this parenting subject. A crash course is usually very effective for me.

And for the rest of you that have blessed the relationship, Thank You! It is blessed beyond my wildest dream. Somehow, I think the "kid" issue will work out fine. In fact, the teenager and I seem to have better repertoire than her and her mother. The mother finds it comforting that someone can 'talk to her.'
I think you've set up a false dichotomy here. I am a person who easily loves children, but becoming a step-parent was wrenching for me. In most ways, I believe that my "breeder" personality made becoming a step-parent MORE difficult, not less, because I had expectations about the kind of relationship my SS and I would share. It took me years to accept the relationship that WAS, instead of trying to create something that SS didn't need.

I have been married to my DP for over 8 years now, and neither of us loves our step-children in a way that resembles the love that we have for our own children. I love my SS in the sense that I am concerned that he gets his needs met and has the best life possible. I am willing to sacrifice for him and take care of him, but we don't have a bond like I have with my biological children. We have a pleasant relationship most of the time, but we don't seek each other out for companionship. He doesn't come to me with his problems, though I believe he would if neither of his parents was available. In general, it's a relationship with a much looser bond, in spite of my desire in the early years to be close with him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cakoala View Post
I congratulate all of you who have stable, and loving children. It is quite a feat.
No, it's not. There are a million ways that it can go wrong, but a trillion ways for it to go right. It's not science and it doesn't require any specialized training. Raising kids is about living life. If you're living with integrity, love, and compassion, the kids will obviously have a better life than if you're not. What "system" or "theory" by which you choose to parent is far, far less important than those attributes.

Look, I get where you're training is taking you, but regular folks with zero psychological training successfully raise kids all the time. Attachment parenting is very simple: it's about taking kids seriously and trying to meet their needs for love and discipline in a responsive way. Books and research and theories can help, but experience is the only real teacher. I read all the books about becoming a step-parent, and I still made a huge mess of the whole thing. You very likely will, too. Kids will bounce back if they know that the adults in their world really care and as long as they have at least one person who is passionately in love with them (always assuming there's no major dysfunction going on).

I'm concerned that you're setting yourself up to relate to your new SCs from a place of fear. The only worse foundation for any parent/step-parent relationship than fear is guilt. Think about: right now, millions of kids are thriving in blended families of all different styles and with parents and step-parents with all kinds of personalities.
post #32 of 37
As the mother of a child raised with a non bio father, I wouldn't accept a partner that didn't love my kids. Especially when the bio father is not in the picture. Period. All the psychological talk is entertaining but bottom line IMO is that ideally kids are raised by people that love them. And since the kids were in her ( and my ) life before I met my partner I had a duty to make sure I brought a person into the family that loved them.

Your descriptions of these children in your OP makes it seem like you view them as easy experiments and tests for your training.
post #33 of 37
Attachment parenting, to me is about learning and growing together. It's about me learning what my child wants/needs are and doing what I can to meet those wants/needs as much as I can. It's about being present as much as I can, wanting to be with them, nurture them, enchance their lives, live, grow and share with them. When you're dropped into the situation mid-stream, it may take some time to catch up, but as many have explained, it can happen. The only question now is do you want it to?

Ultimately, these children are a part of your finance. Perhaps if you spend some time looking at them as an extension of her, you'll find the love and fondness you have for her can also be extended to them. Parts of what you love about her are parts that have been created because of her love and experience with them. Those same wonderful things you love about her are also very likely, found inside each of her children too.

I wish you all well along this journey.
post #34 of 37

Great topic ~ Another book recommendation

I just finished reading "Ex-Etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After a Divorce or Separation" by Jann Blackstone-Ford, M.A. & Sharyl Jupe. While all of it might not be applicable, it is certainly full of very practical advice for every adult in a "blended" family situation. What I like is that both voices are present in the book - the mom's voice is there (Sharyl Jupe) as is the bonus-mom's (Jann Blackstone). I appreciate their wisdom as people who have been there, done that, and survived to tell the tale.

Having read many, many books about divorce, step-parenting, co-parenting, blended family, etc., this is by far one of the easiest to read and easiest to apply. The fact that it doesn't read like a lecture but more like some advice from a trusted friend is definitely a plus as well.

Good luck with your foray into this new adventure!
post #35 of 37
My step father never wanted children of his own. He didn't particularly care for children. He and my mom have been together for 20 years now and I am closer to him than I am my biological father. I was 12 when he and my mother started dating and my brother was 9. I think my brother had a more difficult time initially because he was a child who always fought hard for our dad's affection. I think he didn't want to hurt our, mostly uninvolved, father. I think he loves both fathers equally at this point but respects our step dad more.

Anyhow, this man who never had the breeder gene, and still doesn't (though I secretly thought he would gain it at some point because he is 12 years younger than my mom and I assumed that once he "grew up" he'd want to procreate), has been an incredible father to me. He approached things on a respect level more than anything. He talked to me. He found out what I wanted and worked with me to get those things out of life. He never, ever tried to overcompensate. He didn't buy me things to "prove" that he cared about me, he didn't disagree with my mom just to make me feel like he was on my side.

Today I feel as if he loves me. He has helped me in times when nobody else was there for me. More than that, while he never did get used to "handling" infants, he has been the most amazing grandfather to my children. Somewhere, though the breeder never emerged, he found a place in his heart for these crazy little munchkins who aren't always well behaved, often make a mess, and occasionally claim to be from another planet. When I ask my children if they want to go visit grandpa they don't ask "which one?" because there is just my step dad. My younger 2 just recently met my father, though he lives only a short distance from me. He had the breeder gene...he just didn't have the be an active part of your childs life gene.
post #36 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by UptownZoo View Post
I think you've set up a false dichotomy here. I am a person who easily loves children, but becoming a step-parent was wrenching for me.
:

I'm the person who always wants to hold the baby, walk with the toddler, etc etc... but that hasn't made me more loving toward my stepdaughter. Unfortunately I find her irritating more often than not. However, I enjoyed her a lot more during the younger years, 3 to 6... at 10 she's getting that pre-teen attitude.

I think that the fact that we rarely see her makes it hard to form any real connection - if your stepkids are with their mom most of the time, that will be different for you.

My stepdad was the main father figure in my life and I felt that he loved me like a daughter - not exactly the same way but similarly. He married my mom when I was 7.

For books, I recommend Playful Parenting for stepparents, because I think that the approaches in it help to keep things light, when they can escalate really easily with step dynamics.

HTH.
post #37 of 37
Thread Starter 

Dr's Sears

I just read the book "Discipline" By Dr. Sears. It is supposedly the primary reference for attachment parenting. I enjoyed the read, and saw that Dr. Sears patterns most of his advice after good psychological methodologies based on the stages of ego growth. I dog-eared a couple pages. On a side note, Dr. Sears is definitely a breeder - 8 kids - makes my head spin.

Wende,

Thanks for the bright spot. I suspect that I will end up like your "dad." They are growing on me even after 8 days.

Laggie and Sostickenhappy,

I will add your books to the top of my list. Working on getting a copy of Stepparenting" first.

Arduinna,

I am sorry if the postings sound a bit dry. And perhaps, I don't have the innate sense of parenting that some others have. I do love my partner and cherish all that she cherishes. I am positive that she made her decision with all do considerations, just as you did.
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