Stepparents Role-S/O of Sex Ed, other topics... - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-28-2010, 11:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Proto's thread recalled some recent things with my DSD and the ever evolving/figuring out of a stepparents role in their DSC's life.

Over the weekend DSD's homework page was a special homework for parents to go over "safe touch" and "bad touch" and privacy, etc.

Poor DH was a little shocked that DSD was getting something this in depth at her age. (She is 5 and in kindergarten). He asked me to help chime in on the subject as a trusted female to DSD.

At first I was a little, "um, not sure, I think this should soley come from her parent..." But DH has been pretty adamant that DSD's parents are just as important in her life and we have a right to be active in parenting her.

We let DSD's Mom know of the homework at pick up and that we went over it with DSD. She wasn't surprised and seemed okay that I was a part of it.

I guess a lot of factors play a role in how invovled a step parent is with some of these things... But I guess the more I think on it the open communication is, I think, a pretty good approach to take. It can't hurt for DSD to have more trusted adults in her life.

It kind of reminds me when I was a teenager... I was very close to my friend's Mom and I went to her to ask/talk about a lot of sex type questions and I told her how I went to Planned Parenthood on my own and got birth control. My Mom found out later that I had talked about a lot of this stuff with my friend's Mom and was really hurt and I think she was even upset at my friend's Mom for never telling her about it.

She got over it pretty quickly though and later told me that she was happy that I was able to have someone I felt comfortable enough talking to about that sort of thing, even if it wasn't her.

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this... but I think it's to say... I sometimes feel people overthink stepparents and their roles and what they should or shouldn't do.

Like discipline... Any care provider a child will have, be at daycare, at church, at school, etc has the right to guide the child away from a dangerous situation, as well as enforce that particular places rules.

A child is able to talk to their teacher, counselor, favorite Aunt/Uncle, family friend, etc about whatever they feel comfortable talking to them about...

So why does a step parent always feel that they have no place/right to do some of these things when everyone else is okay with no questions, no gasps of only a bio parent should do xyz...



Just some food for thought this morning. lol

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Old 01-28-2010, 01:52 PM
 
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So why does a step parent always feel that they have no place/right to do some of these things when everyone else is okay with no questions, no gasps of only a bio parent should do xyz...
I guess it depends on the subject, the length of the relationship between step-parent and child, etc.

My ex would have no issue with my gf doing some of the above things you mentioned, but he would also have issues with some (maybe, lol).

Personally, I think that the more trusting adults a child has to go to the better, but my ex and I also have certain subjects that we want to talk to our child about, to lay a foundation, etc. (For example - we're both very sex positive and don't want our girls getting any messages to the contrary before we've had a chance to go there with them!)

If my ex was dating someone for a significant length of time, I would have no issue with that person having 'big' discussions with our two dds, as long as both my ex and I felt it was appropriate, there was no conflicting info, etc. (Of course this is age appropriate as well; my oldest is seven. If she were a teenager, she'd be ready to hear opposing opinion, make her own decisions, etc.)

Finally, as for discipline, again, my ex and I are both very AP in that sense, time-out would be about the max 'punitive' thing we do. We would both have an issue if the other person's significant other were doing things such as hitting, yelling, grounding, etc. Enforcing rules, certain expected behaviors, etc. is fine, but I think the best case scenario is everyone as a group attempting to agree on general guidelines.

Example - teachers can't (or shouldn't) hit, yell, belittle, etc. So yes, they can use general rules to guide behavior, but most adults in a child's life tend to follow the parent's ground rules, kwim? Or what would generally be considered acceptable 'interference'. For another example - I could grab my neighbour's kid from running out on the road, but I wouldn't sit there and lecture them on the danger of it... I'd bring them home and pass them over to their parents.

A close friend's child, I would probably talk to myself. Or a family member, etc. It depends on the relationship to the child.

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Old 01-28-2010, 01:52 PM
 
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My kids' dad is very involved in their life, inasmuch as he has them at his home 2-3 nights a week.

However, he is not very involved in parenting them, IMO. Sex ed is a very clear example -- my older son is turning 8, and his dad has come to me to "stop" the problem when my he was younger and spending too much time trying to find privacy to touch himself in the bathroom, etc (in a house with 9 kids there is little privacy). I had taught my son, in that case, that he could touch himself if he did it privately and washed his hands when he was done.

Later, same son had a sore under his foreskin. His dad told me (accusatorily) and wanted me to address it.

Recently, same son had a sore under his foreskin. He hadn't wanted to talk with his dad about it, didn't think he was allowed to talk to his dad about it because he was supposed to keep it private (that is, the younger kids are actually spanked if they, for instance, poop with the door open). So I talked with him yet again about genital hygiene, encouraged him to open up to his dad if needed help with private things at dad's house, looked at his sore, and got him some antibiotic cream.

My dh (stepdad to my kids, of course) mentioned that such abrasions can happen as a result of overzealous masturbation. I asked him to bring that up with ds. He felt a bit awkward and uncomfortable about it, but spent some time talking to him. From my perspective -- 1) it was *so nice* to have a man who could talk with him about this. 2) I am really grateful that my kids have more than one safe go-to person to talk about sexuality.

Having both parents and stepparents lovingly involved is great, IMO. Problems only begin occurring when a stepparent either sends harmful messages (example: I told dd I didn't like Bratz dolls, and why. Her stepmom said "They're just little girls who like to exercise a lot to stay skinny." urgh!) or if the step parent is working to usurp or belittle the parents in a way that could hurt the children at hand.

It sounds like in your case, you're worrying too much. She's lucky to have parents that can communicate and work together as a team!
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Old 01-28-2010, 03:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Having both parents and stepparents lovingly involved is great, IMO. Problems only begin occurring when a stepparent either sends harmful messages (example: I told dd I didn't like Bratz dolls, and why. Her stepmom said "They're just little girls who like to exercise a lot to stay skinny." urgh!) or if the step parent is working to usurp or belittle the parents in a way that could hurt the children at hand.
Bolding mine... Good example... we have the opposite sort of issue here and I guess that is why lines get fuzzy a lot. Typically the bio parent gets to create the foundation, etc... but when the two bio parents don't always agree... and the step-parent "parents" with whatever their SO/bio parent decides for their house, it can be seen as being disrespectful or stepping out of bounds with the other bio parent.

Given your example... DH lets me create a lot of the rules for our house regarding stuff with the Bratz Dollz etc, as I'm the female and we have two DD's that we are raising and he feels as a female I understand best how to raise females.

I don't allow Bratz dolls in our house. I also feel that Hanna Montana, High School Musical, Zach and Corey Suite Life (or whatever it's called), and icarly are all not age appropriate shows for a five year old.

DH completely backs me on this... however DSD's Mom has let DSD watch all of these since DSD was three years old. And has taken her to a Jonnas brothers concert. She also buys her many things with these logos on them (clothes, backbacks etc).

We found ourselves in an interesting predicament because DSD has started asking more Why's in regards to this. We don't neccessarily want to say we don't agree with her Mom... but there isn't much of a way that DSD isn't going to figure that out. She is a smart girl. She knows she can't watch these shows at our house. She is now wanting to know why she can't watch them here when she can at Mom's.

We haven't come up with a good reason of why she can't without it sounding bad in some way towards her Mom... like, "well we think the shows are a little too old for you yet" DSD might interpret that we think she is a baby and her Mom doesn't as she has watched them so long there...

Or simply "We don't like them." DSD will then say, "why don't you like them?"



Or with breastfeeding... I have always been very open about breastfeeding and I'm still breastfeeding my DD. DSD has taken to lifting up her shirt to breastfeed her stuffed animals, which I think is soooo incredibly cute and it touched my heart.

Her Mom... not the same reaction. Her Mom told her to knock it off and put her shirt down as it's not decent for little girls to lift their shirt up.

I personally have many things against that particular reaction. But who gets to decide who is right? And a PP stated it's better for children to not get a mixed message so young... Well, I'm certainly not going to back down from a pro-breastfeeding standpoint... and DSD's Mom isn't going to agree that it's perfectly normal and okay for DSD to "breastfeed" her stuffed animals... so right there DSD is getting another mixed message about "right" and "wrong".

Another thing we ran into was DSD is being taught that girls marry boys. DH and I do not teach that as we are supportive of gay marriage.

So, unfortunately there are some areas that we do not all work well together on...

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Old 01-28-2010, 04:14 PM
 
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Thanks for posting this, JSMa.

I am thankful that, for whatever her reaction, SD's mom generally agrees with my husband and with me on the "biggies"--religion (well, I'm Jewish by birth but not religious at all, neither is SD's mom, and my husband and SD go to Unitarian church, so those are compatible), politics, sex, education, health, acceptance of differences, etc.

The differences, then, come in terms of form and reaction. It's not so much that my SD's mom expects her not to date until she's 20 or anything, it's just whenever things come up, she either freaks or shuts down or both. (The differences do come with smaller stuff--we don't allow TV's or computers in anyone's bedroom, for instance, but that more falls under "different places have different rules" and SD gets that, at 7. She also understands that, if I say I don't like Froot Loops or goth music, I'm not condemning her mother for liking Froot Loops and goth music. That took some time, though; she's old enough now to understand personal preferences, whereas at 4 or 5 she may not have fully understood.)

I'm pretty sure my SD's mom wouldn't actually mind the CONTENT of what I'd be telling her, as it would be similar to her own ideals--but I still think she'd mind the fact I was doing it in the first place.

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Old 01-28-2010, 10:55 PM
 
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JSMa, we run into tons of little issues like you describe. We just present it like my own mother did when I talked about rules at other kids' houses. She'd say, "well, I don't make the rules over there. I make the rules here." No judgement.

So far they don't seem to take it as a condemnation. We're the stricter household by far in some ways, yet much more open and relaxed.

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