I recently relocated to the midwest from the west coast, to live with my boyfriend and his two children from a previous marriage (ages 10 & 7, both girls). Now I am pregnant with my first child, & feel like I've been thrown into the fire, so to speak, as far as parenting experience goes.
For the most part, my boyfriend's kids are wonderful, well-behaved kids. They alternate weeks between our house and their mom's.
It's really been a wild experience, so far.
I find some things bothering me more now that I'm pregnant than they did before... my boyfriend & his brother were raised by a father who was very into martial arts, & taught them to fight from a young age. My boyfriend is raising his daughters that way, too, & they play fight a lot with each other & with him, kicking, punching, slapping... inevitable, someone always gets hurt, but he treats that as part of the learning experience. For me, the violence & all that entails makes me uncomfortable. While I respect being able to defend oneself, philosophically, I just have issues.
Any thoughts, suggestions?
Just tell them to take it outside, and let your bf know how you feel about it. I personally would look at it as "practice" for their sport. They are trained in martial arts how to fight without seriously injuring the other person (for competitions and classes), so I would overlook it as long as it wasn't in the house.
SAHstepM to C and N
I find it's very natural and normal for many (though certainly not all) men to play this way with their kids. And martial arts is about SO much more than violence, or defending yourself from being victimized. Actually, I think it's kind of sad when that's all people see in it. I don't mean to criticize you. If you haven't been exposed to it, then I understand why it may seem to you like it's all about either being the victim or the abuser. But it's really about fitness, discipline, philosophy, a moral code, a connection with ancient practices, and self-confidence that stems from something deeper than verbal reassurances and platitudes from parents and teachers. It's the inner knowledge that you are physically and mentally strong. You can take a blow (hopefully an accidental one), brush it off and stay focused. Adversity may come your way, but you're nobody's vicitim. You've mastered difficult skills through practice. And you can control yourself. You may be capable of beating someone up when you're mad, but you're honor-bound to use your skills appropriately.
Especially since your BF was a parent before you entered his life (so NO good would come of you trying to re-work how he interacts with his kids), I hope you and he will both work at that yin-yang respect that is so good for marriages and for kids. I.e., you guys don't have to interact with the kids in the same way at all. You just have to try to appreciate and respect the value of your differences. Kids need to burn off energy through rough-housing. They need to learn how to use their growing bodies. They also need calm, gentle nurturing. And it's fine if one parent contributes more of one thing and the other contributes more of something else. Both contributions have value to the whole person the child will become.
And it's so much better for the kids to see you appreciate each other's contributions, than to see you criticize him for being too "violent", or him criticize you for being a "softie", or something. If the adults value the balance between their parenting styles, the kids will feel balanced, instead of torn between two factions.