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Teaching morals and life lesssons without insulting the biological parent?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Anyone else have this issue? Dss is 10 and lives with us primarily. He is at the age where I feel like we should be talking about relationships, resposiblilty, drugs, alcohol, sexual responsiblitly.

Dss's mom has many traits I like, but her lifestyle and values are very different from ours. I find it hard to have certain conversations with dss without stepping into an "off limits" territory. I see that dh has the same hesitation. We don't want to criticize dss's mom, or seem to be even if we are not. Dss is extremely sensitve to ANYTHING that might be seen as insulting his mom (and she says he is the same way about us at her house).

The sad thing is there are moments with dss when I feel like when my ds is older, I will stop right here and have this conversation. But I have to stop myself. If dh feels this way too, who will share the life lessons and morals that dh and I share and want to be a part of our family?

It seems like these topics are off limits: the value of work, recreational alcohol and drug use, marriage (in regards to having children), fidelity, monogamy, value of a college education, budgeting/living within means, and on and on.
post #2 of 24
To be honest, it doesn't sound like it's a step-parent issue. It sounds like it's a pre-teen boy trying to avoid having a potentially embarrassing conversation and using his blended family as a convenient get-out-of-blushes-free card.
He KNOWS the value of marriage- he's seen his parents break up and his dad get happily married again- and fidelity. You don't need to talk about it, he's already had an object lesson. Same with budgeting, and college.You share these lessons just by living them.
Drugs, otoh, you do need to step up to the plate on; my kids are a lot younger than your dss, but we started by talking about addiction (the previous tenants here were heroin addicts and dealers) and how horrible it must be, and took it from there. They understand that their grandmother can't stop smoking because she's addicted: one day, they're going to understand that their grandmother is an alcoholic because she's addicted. I can't do the heavy-handed "all drugs are bad" routine as a former user, but I can warn them of the consequences. The same with safe sex: my boys have been to the family planning clinic with me to pick up condoms, and they do understand what they're for...
post #3 of 24
I think you can still have them so long as you arn't attacking mom.

So for example

"people who stay home and don't work like your mom are loosers!" would be bad.

"It is really important to work hard so you can earn money for the things you want. Do you enjoy these things we have? We have them becuase *whoever* works hard every day to earn them. Someday you will have a chance to earn your own things too" Good

"people who do drugs (like your mom) are loosers" BAD

"Drugs are illigal and they really limit your oportunities, people who do drugs often find it hard to focus and they miss out on things becuase the drugs cloud their mind" GOOD

"sleeping around makes you trash" BAD

"being monogomous is a really important way that your father shows me that he loves me." Good.

Just make it about general things and not her - in fact when you can make it about YOU.
post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
I don't feel he's trying to get out of things. Sometimes it is his hesitation that stops the conversation, sometimes mine. For example, we were watching a show and the dad made a comment like, "Well, I HAD to marry her," wink wink. Dss was totally confused. Why would someone have to get married? We don't believe everyone has to get married, but had this been my bio son, I would have talked about our relationship, why we believe in marriage, monogamy, commitment,etc. but his mom's lifestyle isn't like that and obviously she doesn't believe that. So, I just stopped. I'm not sure how far about our family to go. I just said, "some people think you should get married if you get pregnant," and he kinda laughed, and said, "You don't HAVE to."

Another one: we were talking about jobs/his future, he says, "Well, I might not want to work," "How will you support yourself?" "Well, you can get food stamps and stuff." His mom is on public assistance until her trust fund kicks in (seriously.) and hasn't worked in years.

He has made comments about cheating, about "you can just get divorced," I don't know. I feel like we are failing in our duty here, but at the same time, I at times feel like my conversations make him feel alienated. I truly hope we are "teaching by living" but I think his mom's life seems more fun than ours a lot of the time. I'm sure eventually he'll see it, it's in the mean time that I worry about.
post #5 of 24
I don't understand why you didn't talk to him like he was your bio son. Sorry. *confused*
post #6 of 24
Because she is not his mother, and she is quite reasonably deciding not to insult his mother's lifestyle and/or beliefs. I guess I do wonder why his father is not able to discuss his personal beliefs with his son openly, however. In a non-judgmental way, along the lines of "while some people don't believe its important to get married if they are pregnant, I have a different opinion, because, etc., etc., and I have tried to live that by...etc., etc.
post #7 of 24
I agree with the idea of using "I" statements... "I believe..." and "We believe..." and explaining why.

I totally disagree with your values btw, but that is not the point.
post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bczmama
Because she is not his mother, and she is quite reasonably deciding not to insult his mother's lifestyle and/or beliefs. I guess I do wonder why his father is not able to discuss his personal beliefs with his son openly, however. In a non-judgmental way, along the lines of "while some people don't believe its important to get married if they are pregnant, I have a different opinion, because, etc., etc., and I have tried to live that by...etc., etc.
I think his dad just feels the same way, we start a converstation and dss just gets this look on his face and you know his thoughts are going right to his mom. Dh doesn't want to insult her either. Inspite of differences, we actually all get a long fine these days so we don't have any need to do anything to their relationship.

Here's another one. Dss says, "If I were a girl, I wouldn't breastfeed," so as I start telling him why I do, I stop myself a bit because I know his mom formula feeds her baby, so I don't need to freak him out with statistics and my strong probreastfeeding opinions.

Does anyone else feel this or do you just talk freely about it all even when it applies to the bioparent.
post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama
I totally disagree with your values btw, but that is not the point.
I'm not sure why you had to include that. It's not like I'm giving you the full spectrum of my beliefs and experiences, I'm just trying to share some pieces of conversation to show what I mean.
post #10 of 24
To me, that sounds like he's testing the waters: will you still love him if he falls off the rails? The teenage years can be really really scary, and he may be looking for some reassurance that you're there for him unconditionally.
Don't forget to use humour as well- after all, it's a good thing he doesn't have boobs if he'd let them go to waste Or, did he know that it's actually possible for men to breastfeed? Something cool and quirky...
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flor

Here's another one. Dss says, "If I were a girl, I wouldn't breastfeed," so as I start telling him why I do, I stop myself a bit because I know his mom formula feeds her baby, so I don't need to freak him out with statistics and my strong probreastfeeding opinions.
I think you can explain to him why you do, without going into statistics or overwhelming him with your opinions. Think of it as the begining of a conversation on the topic, the rest of the conversation might come later, but that way you won't feel that you have to explain everything about it at once. Maybe think of it the way you'd explain something to a new acquaintence, just sort of gradually. That way he'll just see it as part of a conversation and not a big lecture or put down of his mom.
Explaining your beliefs is not insulting to his mom, it's just being who you are. You aren't asking him to adopt those beliefs as his own, but by living as an example to him, maybe he will.
post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fek&fuzz
Explaining your beliefs is not insulting to his mom, it's just being who you are. You aren't asking him to adopt those beliefs as his own, but by living as an example to him, maybe he will.
Yeah, I think it's weird that I can be my lactivist self with any stranger on the street, but with dss, I'm afraid he'll worry about his other little brother. I think he has this thing in his head where he is always comparing our two households. He really sees himself as belonging to two families but I'm sure that gets confusing as you get older and start thinking about life more. When he was younger, it wasn't such a problems since we didn't find ourselves talking about touchy issues so often.
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flor
I'm not sure why you had to include that. It's not like I'm giving you the full spectrum of my beliefs and experiences, I'm just trying to share some pieces of conversation to show what I mean.
I wasn't sure why I had to include it either, but thinking more, I guess because I can relate to what it seems the bio-mama's values and way of living might be, I feel like it is easy for those with a more conservative lifestyle to feel superior. And I think it is important you not communicate that feeling to your stepson (which I know you are working hard not to do).

I would use "I" statements for your beliefs, as I said before. And if you feel like it is sounding judgmental, you could explain the other side, what somebody else (like his bio-mama) might believe. I think it's just important not to communicate the idea that your beliefs are the only right way to approach a particular subject.

Unlike your bio-son, your stepson will have different influences, and may grow up with different values, because his bio-mama is in his life. You can put in your input IMO, and remember that he is meant to also get other input.
post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama
I wasn't sure why I had to include it either, but thinking more, I guess because I can relate to what it seems the bio-mama's values and way of living might be, I feel like it is easy for those with a more conservative lifestyle to feel superior. And I think it is important you not communicate that feeling to your stepson (which I know you are working hard not to do).

I would use "I" statements for your beliefs, as I said before. And if you feel like it is sounding judgmental, you could explain the other side, what somebody else (like his bio-mama) might believe. I think it's just important not to communicate the idea that your beliefs are the only right way to approach a particular subject.

Unlike your bio-son, your stepson will have different influences, and may grow up with different values, because his bio-mama is in his life. You can put in your input IMO, and remember that he is meant to also get other input.
I agree with everything you've said. It's funny to think of myself as conservative, but it's all relative!

He does live with us 5 days a week, so it's hard for me to give up part of his growing up to someone else.
post #15 of 24
I think it's important to hear your view on life, like other people said, using "I" statements, etc. He's at an age to understand that not everyone makes the same decisions, and even though two people may choose to do something a little different, that doesn't necessarily mean that someone is doing it wrong. This can be a great tool for learning tolerance for him.

With my stepson, when he asks me why I do something, I tell him openly and honestly. When he says, "Well, my mama doesn't do it this way..." I emphasize that while doing it this way is best for me, his mama is a different person, and sometimes needs to do things differently.
post #16 of 24
I guess I think that we all get to have different opinions so I share mine. His job as an adult will be to sort out all the different perspectives of his life and come to his own thoughts.

I don't need to say that her views are bad to share my views.

I would tell why I bf. I did in fact when it was asked and my skid's mom didn't.

I didn't make a big deal about it but I answered the question
post #17 of 24
I would use the "bad choices" not "bad people" way to bring it up.

I think it is important the you instill a moral compass in your son, regardless of his mothers bad choices.

I understand that this is a difficult situation.
post #18 of 24
:

I understand what you mean on the breastfeeding situation. When their mom had a baby, she bf at first then quickly switched to formula. The kids were very excited about her bf'ing, would come home from visits bragging about it then stopped. Since we are a "lactivist" family, I think they were ambarrased that she stopped. I brought it up one day, by giving them some coupons to take to her, saying things like, having a baby is tough and expensive, lets give your mom all the help she can get! It seemed to help, they started talking about the baby again.
I found I really had to change my thinking (and speaking) about certain subjects. I did use more "I" or "We" statements regarding things that were important to us. So, that helped.

Its such a tough balance, isnt it?

Good Luck!
post #19 of 24
When he stated he wouldn't breastfeed, did you ask him why? That can sometimes lead to intellectual and debateable topics that are good for kids. He's getting to an age where I'd be asking a lot more questions like "well, what do you think?" He obviously knows there is a difference between mom's values and your values, so maybe it's time to start figuring out where he's at. These kinds of questions usually have a way of allowing you to express your own opinion to, as giving more information while not denying him or anyone else.

My ex and I have opposite values. I speak my mind with my kids all the time because I figure it's good for them to have two different points of view. I think that gives them more perspective as they get older and better informed to make choices that are good for him.

You could even tell him, I'd like to talk to you about things I believe in and while it works for me, I don't want you to feel like I judge your mom for her decisions. Everyone has the right to make decisions for themselves. If you acknowlege that his mom makes choices that feel best for her and you make choices that feel best for you, no one has to be 'wrong' and he can see more than one way of looking at things.

I would also stay away from "bad choices" too. It's a really loaded value statement. Personally, I'd stick to, "well, this works for me because....." No one can argue with your own feelings or point of view.

I think it's important to make sure you and especially your dh have real life discussions with him.
post #20 of 24
I just want to pop in to say that I am lurking. We are having problems with ds1 biodad's lifestyle. Dh and I don't know how to address different issues without insulting (is that the right word) biodad. Is hard sometimes.
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