Blending Parenting Styles (long) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 04-24-2006, 12:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello, I'm new here...I've been lurking for a couple of weeks, and need some advice, comments, etc.

A little background...I have two dc (9 & 11) from previous marriage. Recently remarried with dss (6) recently moving here from with his mom, and dsd living with dh parents soon to be with us too. I am 11 weeks preg (yeahh!) with #5 if you include all of our beans. My dh works long hours, so I am left to care for dss after school and Sat. My ex and I share parenting- him MTW, me ThFSS.

I have raised my children out of the mainstream as much as possible, I am a wahm, breastfed, co-slept, etc. My children spent the first 5 years of their lives living a very cultural life traveling to music festivals to vend my wares, camping and meeting MANY unique people from all walks of life. They have been raised to appreciate what we have, and are both very humble. They are beautiful, smart, unique, mature children who have always been encouraged by myself and their dad to be themselves.

My dss, however had been raised to this point by his mom who is not present most of the time, left him with sitters, older half-brother, etc. to pursue her drug habit. He has been given what he wants when he wants it just to shut him up (whether it's a piece of cake instead of dinner, or a $75 toy to avoid a scene at the store). My dh has not been allowed to see him for much of his six years, but to quiet his whining about wanting to move in with dad, his mom let him come (700 mi away) to live with us.

I feel I am blessed to have been put in his life to show him some sort of a normal with a schedule, bedtime, some limits, structure, etc. He moved to be with us in Jan. of this year, and has come leaps and bounds from where he was when he got here.

I feel he has been severely neglected as a little soul to this point. His teeth are all rotting out because from a baby, he was give *CHOCOLATE MILK* in a bottle during the night to stop him from crying. He does not even remedially know how to share anything. He has absolutely no awareness that anyone other than himself has feelings or is entitled to a difference of opinion from his own. If he doesn't get -his way, -what he wants to eat, -a certain toy, -to win a game of checkers, -tv to fall asleep to, -bath when he wants, etc. he will throw a huge fit kicking and screaming, yelling at his dad and me, crying, pouting, *spitting* on my children when they refuse to play with him because they've had it with him.

Just a for instance...We took them all bowling yesterday. My two have been bowling a few times, dss has not. Dss was really excited about going. dd won with like 43 points, was a good sport, and cheered on ds and dss. Ds lost horribly with 12 points, and was upset, but kept his chin up, and congratulated his sis and cheered everyone on. Dss came in the middle with 32 points, threw a fit stomping his feet, threw his shoes, throwing bowling balls, cried, etc. over not being the winner of the game, screaming "I suck at bowling! I hate this! etc." Then cried and had another fit when we decided it was probably better to just leave.

Okay, enough background, you all get the point...Two totally different parenting styles here.

So my issues are this:

I've talked privately with my kids and explained that we all need to help dss to acclimate to our environment. That he's not used to having siblings, rules, limits, etc. They have been extremely patient, but they are nearing their breaking point. This past weekend, ds said he wished dss would go back home because he's made me mean. I explained that things are getting better, and that I have to tighten the belt before it can be loosened again.

How do I keep the things super-structured for dss while he's getting used to having limits while at the same time give my kids their freedom without it seeming like I'm playing favorites? (I'm not, it's just rewards come for good behavior).

Any tricks other that just saying that "Crying, throwing fits, or pouting will get you an automatic no." when things erupt?

Dss answer to things like "You shouldn't talk to me like that. It's okay to be angry, but please say that again without hurting my feelings." is
DD said that before. or DS did it first or They hit me back. We've been working on the whole treat others as you want to be treated which works sometimes with *constant* reminders. Is there a better way to teach this at 6 yrs. old? It seems it was a review for my kids at that age.

Any advice or comments would be appreciated. I feel like I'm dealing with a 2 yr. old in a 6 yr. old's body. The things that dss is dealing with are things that I thought all mom's dealt with and taught as their children were growing. I know dss is going through a lot emotionally and mentally right now. He tells me he misses his big brother and his gramma, but never says a word about his mom. He won't even talk to her on the phone. I feel for all of his emotions, but I know to keep any sort of peace in our house, he needs to learn to control himself despite the events or circumstances in his past. Am I being to stiff lipped on this one?

DH is also doing very well adjusting to being a dad full time, and not just an "on the holidays" dad. He swallows his pride daily and asks "What should I do?" He's not here but in the evenings for dinner and bedtime then on weekends, so most of this falls on me, which I am okay with because I knew it would going into this relationship.

Other than building a padded room so I can go bang my head every ten min. on the weekends, I'm at a loss for anything other than being consistant with what I've been doing.

Thanks for "listening"...
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#2 of 4 Old 04-24-2006, 04:04 PM
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Wow. I can't say I've ever been in your situation.

I would think that he needs time. Also, maybe you can try to replace the toys, etc. with individual time. Your ex has your kids some days, so maybe quality individual time, a "special day" with DSS is needed. Also, your poor patient babies probably need some quality time too (with you and away from DSS).

Also, maybe DSS needs something extra, like some sort of therapy. It seems like he has been severly emotionally neglected. Maybe a family therapist could help you.

You seem like you have it under control, but are just a little stressed right now, and maybe wrote this to vent. Maybe you need some alone time too?

Good luck to you. I'm glad that you and your DH are on the same page about things. I have no doubt that you will become Mom to DSS.
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#3 of 4 Old 04-24-2006, 10:36 PM
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I have to agree that therapy and some alone time for everyone might be valuable. Also, I know when kids have times of adjustments, sometimes they need private space...I remember my dd needed that after we separated and moved cross country. Does he have his own room or a place he can escape to, perhaps with some semi-private/soothing activity? I know that tv or video games may not be part of your natural parenting (we don't have them in our house much), but perhaps there are some ways you can give him space when he needs it, even just to do some old comfort things?

On another thread I recently read an important thing to remember, that we as parents don't always have to try and make the lesson learned. It's sometimes not worth forcing the time out or logical consequence when everyone is already feeling bad or hurt, at that point, sometimes you can just give in to the experience and share some emotions. Perhaps sometimes it would be best to just let his behaviors go unchecked, if they are merely ranting and raving, as he has no other outlet to vent with. I know that back when I had a partner (I'm a single mama now) sometimes I'd have a very frustrating day, and want to just get it all out to my partner, and if he came back with suggestions or thoughts or anything it ruined it. Sometimes just saying all your mean angry stuff, and someone else just listening and accepting it, can give relief, whereas being told at that point a repeated lesson might just let the anger build instead of dissipate.

But I'm really impressed with the care you have for your whole family, and I'm sure that with time, patience, and healing, you all will make it through this experience!!
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#4 of 4 Old 04-25-2006, 01:25 AM
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Oh, I feel you! One of the first things I ever did with my SS was to take him to the dentist where they performed 7 root canals over 3 different appointments. He used to get gummi bears or raisins or kool-aid in a sippy to bribe him to go to bed at night. He never took a nap and was chronically over-tired. He just could NOT go into a store and come out without a toy or treat; that had just never happened in his universe!

The first thing (and I know that you know this, but I wanted to say it again) to remember is that he's hurting. He's such a very little boy and his world is all twisted up right now, and he has a new parent and the rules are all different, and people are frustrated and angry, and he probably has no idea why. I say that because I had a very, very hard time having compassion for my SS in those early years (even though he was only 3yo when we married) and things would have probably gone better if I could have stretched my heart out toward him some more.

Discipline is all about teaching, and in a way, you ARE dealing with a 2yo in a 6yo body, only worse because he's learned all the wrong stuff along the way. In December, he knew exactly how the world worked: fuss loud enough, and you get what you want! Now, fussing isn't working, so he's amping up because that's his only skill. You've showed him something new, but it's not registering yet. It took my SS a good 3 YEARS to really understand how to help things go smooth around here. Honestly, I don't think there is anything that can be done except to continue to be consistent, and to try to let go of your expectations of him, just so that you can get an emotional break.

OK, and here comes the hard one, and if you think I'm full of it, I get it. Eventually, I had to come to understand that I could not save SS. I love him, I want the best for him, I would lay down under a train for him just like I would for my bio kids, but I will never have that place in his heart reserved for his mother. She's a screw-up and a loser and she continues to spoil the snot out of him, but she's his mom and I'm not. I'm in a similar situation to yours in that I'm mostly a SAHM, so I spend more time with SS than either of his natural parents does, and I have a certain amount of influence over him, but nothing like his mom and dad do. I believed for a long time that I would give him the consistency and security that he lacked and that he would become a more relaxed, happy, pleasant person (like my bio kids), but that didn't happen, in spite of my very best efforts. We've come a long way, but I've had to accept that our relationship will always have some limits that I don't have with my other kids, and he will be (until HE reaches an age and a maturity level when he can decide to change it) a person who is looking to get more for himself, whether that's candy, or attention, or money, or privileges, or whatever. It makes me nuts sometimes, but I can't force a huge personality change in him. His mother never valued humility and generosity for him, and so he doesn't value it for himself, and I can't force those things on him.

Oh, and I'll chime in for therapy, too. SS was so young when DH and I married that we didn't take SS to therapy, but we went ourselves and learned a lot about how to help him. And time alone for you would be good! Adding step-kids to the family makes parenting exponentially more difficult, because it's like having several cultures in a household and it just takes time to work out all the boundaries and feelings around that. You're the adult who's taken primary responsibility for all of that, and you need some time to relax!

Sorry to go on and on. I really hope that things settle down for you very soon.


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