Gentle Step Parenting? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 07-10-2014, 06:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Question Gentle Step Parenting?

I recently married a man who has 3 daughters (ages 6, 9 and 12). They have been parented very differently from my four (ages 22, 18, 16 and 11). Their father (my husband) is a gentle soul, but sort of a jelly-fish parent, and their mother is compulsively controlling, and authoritative, as well as angry, sarcastic and LOUD. To say she's a yeller is quite the understatement! I know I can't re-parent these three girls, but I sure would love to hear suggestions for how to guide them a bit toward a more peaceful, less caustic way of life. Their interactions with me and with one another are stressful for me, but really it's the effect it has on my youngest son that worries me. The other night the 6 year old threw a giant tantrum because she wasn't winning a family board game, complete with screaming, throwing things, telling everyone she hated them, crying and hitting. I withdrew myself from the game, leaving her with her father. A few moments later my son joined me on my bed, and curled into me, burying his head. He's just not used to that sort of loud angry behavior. A few minutes after that, the other two girls wound up in my bed, too, and my husband pointed out later that they ALL wanted to be in the peaceful bedroom with me, rather than endure the 6 year old's tirade. He asked for help dealing with her, and I offered a few suggestions. However, I don't want to seem critical of his parenting. I think mostly it's their mother who has set the tone for their family. So....help?! Thanks!
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#2 of 5 Old 07-10-2014, 07:56 AM
 
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He's asked you to be critical of his parenting because he sees its not working, that's different from nagging someone who's content with their parenting style. I think it's a good sign that his daughters preferred the calm and quiet. Some kids who grow up with screaming don't feel comfortable with calm.

The transition period will be hard, but you should be able to work towards gentle parenting. The oldest is certainly old enough to be involved in the choice and there will be a difficult transition period, you should make sure to explain through different rules and expectations to the younger two as well.

Depending on the damage their mother did, they may benefit from some counseling.
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#3 of 5 Old 07-14-2014, 06:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by sillysapling View Post
Depending on the damage their mother did, they may benefit from some counseling.
I definitely think they could use some counseling. I wasn't around her and the kids very often before, but I've heard SO many stories of her screaming at them, cursing at them (and my husband) to the point where he and the girls hid in the bedroom to protect them, and the little girls cowering, covering their ears as she ranted. Makes me so terribly sad!
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#4 of 5 Old 07-14-2014, 10:02 AM
 
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When he's asking for ideas, give them! You don't need to comment how how he has done things in the past, just go "This sometimes works..." or "Some people try..." Being super passive was probably the best way to de-escalate a situation with his ex. It's really hard to reprogram yourself after learning to react that way to any kind of conflict. The kids having counselling might help, but everyone will benefit if your husband has a few sessions with a good therapist.

~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.

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#5 of 5 Old 07-15-2014, 11:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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When he's asking for ideas, give them! You don't need to comment how how he has done things in the past, just go "This sometimes works..." or "Some people try..." Being super passive was probably the best way to de-escalate a situation with his ex. It's really hard to reprogram yourself after learning to react that way to any kind of conflict. The kids having counselling might help, but everyone will benefit if your husband has a few sessions with a good therapist.
He and I have both talked about going to counseling, either together or individually, to try and get out from under the shadow of his ex. You're quite right that it's very hard for him to break those patterns. And it's hard for me to have to deal with her, too, because she's not someone I would allow into my life or my children's lives if I had a choice.
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