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Advice on educating step kids


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#1 Zanbam

Posted 08 January 2013 - 10:14 AM

Hi

My DH and I are currently TTC and I am a forward thinking and positive kind of person so I'm looking for some unbiased advice from mums whose kids have been in this position and stepmums who have been in this position.

My DSD (who I totally wub.gif and have a lovely relationship with) is five, potentially she will be six by the time we conceive (hopefully it will happen faster than that though fx) and I think she currently has very limited understanding about where babies come from but knowing how curious and clever she is I'm sure the questions will start once we tell her that we are having one.

My question is, what do you think is an appropriate way to talk to her about this stuff. If it was your DD would you be upset that her SM had explained things to her (in what I think would be age appropriate but she might disagree)? I wish I had the kind of relationship with her mum that we could discuss this to take an agreed approach but my experience is that she turns our positives into negatives so I don't think I can go there. What do you think is the best way to go about this? Any other SMs out there been in this position?

I was thinking of using a book to help explain things as she loves books and reading, does anyone have any recommendations?

TIA

#2 Mummy Em

Posted 08 January 2013 - 10:47 AM

I'm not a step parent and my kids don't have a step parent, so take my advise with a grain of salt. I think I would talk about how her dad and you love each other and wanted to have a baby, that the baby will grow inside your tummy for nearly a year before it is big enough to come out, that you will go to the hospital and the doctors and nurses will help get it out when it is ready etc. But I would redirect any questions about anatomical stuff to her mum.

I think she will probably be more interested in stuff like what relationship the baby will be to her (sister or brother!), is it a boy or girl, what will you call it, what can/can't a newborn do, will she be allowed to help look after it, will you still love her just as much if you have a new baby?

Re books: I read my dd1 There's a House Inside My Mummy by Giles Andreae; Baby on the Way by the Sears and Christie Watts Kelly and We Have a Baby by Cathryn Falwell.

#3 Holidayromp

Posted 08 January 2013 - 10:53 AM

Without sounding harsh but it is not your place to educate the child on the birds and bees.  Any of that information must be handled between the child's parents and most likely the mother.
You will be seriously overstepping the mark and I would be beyond furious if my ex's partner decided to take it upon herself to educate my child on that topic.  It is a special moment not to be interupted by well meaning parties.

FTR: My Husband and I are not separated but I am giving advice on how I would feel should it be my situation.

Edited by Holidayromp, 08 January 2013 - 10:56 AM.


#4 HRH Countrymel

Posted 08 January 2013 - 11:03 AM

Not a parent nor a step parent but agreeing with the PPs.

The most furious I have ever seen one of my students (and she wasn't afraid of fury) was when her ex partner's new girlfriend took it upon herself to give a 'where babies come from' talk to their child.  

As she said to me "If it had been her Dad telling her then I'd have been annoyed he hadn't talked to me first.  But for 'that woman' to chose to give her *&#%ed up view of human sexuality to MY daughter.... I want to #@&^ing kill her!"

This is one you need to handball to your husband and his ex wife.



#5 Zanbam

Posted 08 January 2013 - 11:12 AM

Thanks for the responses. I can totally understand that it is the role of the bio parents to explain this stuff and I wouldn't ever try and replace or take over that role.

I imagine that the questions will come thick and fast when we give the news and obviously dad will be there giving the news and so able to answer questions in the moment. I'm not sure why it would be the mum's place and not the dad's place to answer these sorts of questions though. My DH was still with his ex when their oldest was asking the q's when she was pregnant with the DSD I'm refering to and they had a similar and agreed approach to it so I think she would be fine with the way he responded to any questions and the approach taken.

I am just aware that it will probably be an ongoing topic of interest for her and that it could seem quite dismissive if to each question I say, ask your dad/mum, like I am trying to keep secrets. Currently we have a very open and trusting relationship and she often asks me questions/tells me 'secrets' (like a lolly treat that she got when out at the shops - not scary secrets), which I'm sure she does with her mum, big sister etc. I just want to be sensitive about it and go about it the right way.

#6 Holidayromp

Posted 08 January 2013 - 11:13 AM

I am back in to say honestly do you need to give any talk if it was your place???!!  DD2 who is 6 and was four when her brother was born did not ask any questions - she just accepted it.  DD1 certainly didn't ask any questions when I was pregnant and then had DD2.
Just because people fall pregnant around children doesn't automatically mean how the baby got there in the first place should be automatically shoved down their throat.
If the child does ask questions and that is a big IF then off course direct to the bio parents because that is their decision.  However if the bio mum will not allow the talk to go ahead based on whatever reason- please respect her wishes, just because you are pregnant does not instantly mean 'the talk' is required.
Keep the child's innocence a little while longer.

#7 Holidayromp

Posted 08 January 2013 - 11:15 AM

QUOTE (Zanbam @ 08/01/2013, 12:12 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I imagine that the questions will come thick and fast when we give the news and obviously dad will be there giving the news and so able to answer questions in the moment. I'm not sure why it would be the mum's place and not the dad's place to answer these sorts of questions though. My DH was still with his ex when their oldest was asking the q's when she was pregnant with the DSD I'm refering to and they had a similar and agreed approach to it so I think she would be fine with the way he responded to any questions and the approach taken.


ummm the probably won't.  You will be very surprised on how accepting of a situation children are.  I remember growing up with pregnant woman around me - I just accepted as it is, just as my kids did.  

Kids do not need to know the ins and outs of a fly's a*s*hole just because something happens.  

Take it as it comes, don't over think it but whatever you do don't overstep your boundaries.

#8 Zanbam

Posted 08 January 2013 - 11:23 AM

QUOTE (Holidayromp @ 08/01/2013, 12:15 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
ummm the probably won't. You will be very surprised on how accepting of a situation children are. I remember growing up with pregnant woman around me - I just accepted as it is, just as my kids did.

Kids do not need to know the ins and outs of a fly's a*s*hole just because something happens.

Take it as it comes, don't over think it but whatever you do don't overstep your boundaries.


If the questions aren't asked we definitely will not be putting on a slide show about the ins and outs of how to make a baby!!!!

I was curious at that age, but I don't expect all children would be and there will be no forcing down any throats, innocence will be maintained.

#9 PubertyBlues

Posted 08 January 2013 - 11:43 AM

Uh oh....OP - put down your ideas about discussing the birds and the bees with your DSD and back slowly and quickly out of the room.....

Even when the relationship between exes is okay, the stepparent should NEVER NEVER NEVER intrude on this sort of thing.

EVER.

Sure, once the news is out, you can share with DSD things about the pregnancy that are unique to you - can you feel the baby kick, what do we think we should name it, who do you think it will look like etc etc.

But the birds and the bees? No way.

On a couple of occasions when they were younger, my stepkids asked me where babies come from. They live with us and have done for years, but it's STILL not my place to introduce them to it - answer more detailed questions they may ask when they get older, but having "the chat"? No way.

Before they were given the chat (by their Dad), I used to respond in an age appropriate but not dismissed way. A snigger and "I'm sure Dad will fill you in at some stage" or "Why don't you ask Dad - I think he has a book somewhere that explains it" or (my favourite, and the one that staved the questions off the fastest and wasn't strictly untrue) - "I could tell you, but honestly, it's so magic that you wouldn't believe me..."

Also make sure you put away any thoughts of future "firsts" being carried out by you instead of DSDs Mum - including but not limited to:

- first trip to the hairdresser
- discussions about tampons vs pads
- shopping for bras
- first manicure/pedicure
- first mixed party
- any sort of school dance/formal (first or otherwise)
- hair dying
- piercing
- shaving/waxing
- learning to drive
- buying a bikini rather than a one piece
- buying any clothes that don't, in essence conform to how her Mum allows her to dress
- wearing makeup
- attending Mother's Day functions
- going to parent teacher meetings
- being included on medical matters, discussions and appointments

And then start getting your head around never being called Grandma (Mum gets first dibs on preferred grandparent title), not being able to go to speech/awards/dance/choral nights due to restricted tickets, and sitting anywhere near the top table at her wedding.

No joke, no sarcasm - in day-to-day life I come first for DH, no question - our relationship being healthy and strong is key to the kids happiness.

But when it's a question of a "mother figure" and motherly duties, functions, roles, discussions and "firsts" then there is no competition - the kids Mum gets first dibs every time.

Irrespective of the person she may be, how uninvolved she may be, how clear it may be that she may or may not be the primary carer, her personal views or negativity (as the case may be). She gets to choose/attend/discuss/decide etc.

Every time.



#10 Feral_Pooks

Posted 08 January 2013 - 11:49 AM

How about when you find out you are pregnant, the father calls the mother of your DSD and announces the news. The two of them can discuss how to proceed. And you then support that.

#11 munchmum

Posted 08 January 2013 - 11:51 AM

Going against the grain a bit here.

While I don't think you should approach this topic unless questions are asked, I disagree with PP that it is definately not your role to discuss this with your dsd, though I would discuss it with your DH first.

Whilst I am not a step parent, I am a parent and a step child and if you have a close relationship with your dsd, I don't think any topic should be deemed not up for discussion. If my DD asked here grandparents or other close family members about it I wouldn't expect them to dismiss the topic, why shouldn't they explain?

I think it depends on how you (and the other parents involved) perceive steps to be as part of your family. My step father from the word go always considered his step children as his children, I am probably closer to him than my dad, whereas my stepmother and father made a distiction between their 'bio' children and step children which IMO is not great for family connenctions.

#12 Leggy

Posted 08 January 2013 - 12:03 PM

I think I agree with munchmum, it wouldn't be totally off limits - but I would want to have a quiet chat with the bio mum before anything came up. Do you or your DH have a good enough relationship with her to quietly let her know that you are TTC and are wondering about how to respond to the little questions may come up? If you can hash out between you who should say what, on what topics, then I wouldn't necessarily have a problem with it. But this does assume a reasonably functional relationship between the 3 adults, and a willingness to accept the bio mum's boundaries. If she put her foot down and said "Absolutely not!" then if a question came up with the kids I would be saying, "That's a very good question, but I know your mum wants to be the one to answer it."

#13 Baggy

Posted 08 January 2013 - 12:06 PM

If she asks questions I think something like this should be OK:

QUOTE
I think I would talk about how her dad and you love each other and wanted to have a baby, that the baby will grow inside your tummy for nearly a year before it is big enough to come out, that you will go to the hospital and the doctors and nurses will help get it out when it is ready etc. But I would redirect any questions about anatomical stuff to her mum.


That way you don't feel like you're dismissing all her questions by saying 'go ask your mum'. But at the same time you are giving the bio mum the opportunity to go into detail if she wants.


#14 munchmum

Posted 08 January 2013 - 12:08 PM

Totally agree Rawr it does depend on the family. Even within my own there is no way I would discuss these issues with one of my brothers kids (fyi my only bio brother) as his wife wouldnt want it but I wouldn't hesitate with any of my other nieces or nephews if approached.

I guess the op needs to work out where the line is with her dsds mum and her dh not just for this but future topics.

#15 Propaganda

Posted 08 January 2013 - 12:08 PM

I wouldn't appreciate someone else telling my child these things. Perhaps you can alert her mother to the fact that she is becoming curious and let her deal with it.

I am very open with my child, and the only reason I would not like for someone else to tell her these things is because I don't know what they're going to teach her, and I wanted my child to know the truth and I wouldn't want to risk anyone blowing her off with nonsense answers. We use correct terminology, and she knows the majority of details. I wouldn't want anyone else explaining it to her as their version of age-appropriate would be something I would probably view as a watered-down version of what she actually deserves and needs to know.

#16 Wigglemama

Posted 08 January 2013 - 12:26 PM

Op, you sound like you have the best intentions BUT, seriously, don't go there.

It doesn't sound like you have the closest of relationships with your dh's ex. I doubt talking to her child about the birds and bees would exactly endear you to her either.

I am very easygoing as a parent and I would be livid if anyone, other than my husband, talked to any of my daughters about that particular topic without my permission.

Edited by Wigglemama, 08 January 2013 - 12:27 PM.


#17 spear_maiden

Posted 08 January 2013 - 12:30 PM

Not a step-parent here so not sure if my suggestion fits, but as an aunt that was/is close to some of my nieces/nephew...  When asked about babies, sex, bodily functions stuff (menstruation, ejaculation, etc - lol, guess my older nephew and nieces really felt comfortable with me), I would direct questions back to them before launching into any "talk".  for eg. I would always ask "have you spoken with/asked your mum/dad about this?", the rest of the conversation would generally depend on their response to this.
If they asked me direct questions about my experiences, then I would try to answer age-appropriately.  I generally would ask things like (if they'd said yes, they'd asked one of their parents) "what do you think about that?", and discuss their opinion on the subject without telling them too much what I think.  Also, as a doting aunt who thinks these kids are awesome, I'd generally throw in a statement about how impressed I was that they were thinking about the world/their bodies/considering different things (and would totally mean it - like I said doting aunt wub.gif ).
There were times that I simply said "I think your mum/dad would prefer to talk to you about this, so let's ask them when we see them".  Also, I would try to keep things along the line of what my sisters had told them, or would share an experience I'd had (thinking menstruation here).

Not sure how much of this applies to a step relationship.

edit as I'm not up to a massive flaming today wink.gif

Edited by Studybug, 08 January 2013 - 12:33 PM.


#18 Zanbam

Posted 08 January 2013 - 12:32 PM

I just wanted to say thank you for all of the responses. I honestly attempt to do what is best for my DH and the kids (and try not to step on the ex's toes).

PubertyBlues list/response was really useful, as was the point on doing what is right in our family circumstances (some of the things on PB's list have already happened due to invites from the Ex etc and weren't initiated by me).

I am lucky that the kids/DH/me/ex are fairly clear on our places within the family and the kids lives and there has been little to no problem in that regard.

As a pp said, this may also be a complete non-issue as the questions may not get asked or may be asked of the mum anyway - though I understand that defining boundaries and responses is important for the relationships as a whole and not just this one occasion.

#19 IShallWearMidnight

Posted 08 January 2013 - 12:37 PM

not a step parent, but I've had 'baby' questions from my nieces and godchildren, without having discussed with their parents prior. Its the bio parents job to tell the nitty gritty, I just stuck with 'there's a baby growing in my tummy, growing from a seed the daddy put there'

#20 ~~K~~

Posted 08 January 2013 - 02:44 PM

My step-kids are adults (and I didn't know their father when they were kids), so I haven't really had the general step mother indoctrination, but I did want to disagree a little bit.

I absolutely think that 'the talk' should be done with the your DSD's parents, but I also think that there is nothing wrong with your partner asking his ex if it would be okay if you answered questions put to you.  If they have a good relationship it would benefit you all if you can talk to your DSD as if she was a niece or godchild, answer the question the way one of her parents would.

Similarly for questions later about boys, periods and body hair.  I wouldn't be upset if my child spoke to a trusted family adult (aunt etc) about this stuff if they felt they couldn't talk to their parent.  Why is a step-mother who has been around for years any different?

I'd also like to say that I've been to many graduations and ticket limited events for my partners kids.  I sat next to my DP's ex-wife at the wedding of their son, and we sat next to each other at the baby shower for her grand child.  My step-DIL has always introduced me as her MIL.  Indeed, I'm not called Grandma or anything like that, but that is my choice due to being 32 and not really feeling like a grandmother.

Being a step-mother doesn't always mean that you are on a different team.  In an ideal world, you can be very much in the role of a trusted female role model.  It isn't the same as being a mother, but it isn't unimportant.

#21 blackcat20

Posted 08 January 2013 - 02:48 PM

Wow, there is a lot of anti-step-parent sentiment in here!

I think it really depends on their situation and what all the relatiionships are like. But as a step-kid myself, if Id asked my step mum these sorts of questions, and she had always come back with "ask your mum/dad", Id feel like I was being shut down, and thats not good for that relationship.

Obviously a lot of important "firsts" should be left for mum. But even my step-mum checked in with me to make sure I knew about the birds and the bees etc. She may not be my "real mum", but shes still family and has an interest in my growth and well-being.

#22 Holidayromp

Posted 08 January 2013 - 02:53 PM

I had a thought.  Have you actually spoken to your partner to find out what his thoughts are?  Chances are at some stage he and his ex may have already have had a conversation about this.
Rather than going off in a tangent it may be best to discuss with your partner so he can approach his ex on the best way THEY think it should be handled.

#23 QueenIanthe

Posted 08 January 2013 - 02:55 PM

QUOTE (Holidayromp @ 08/01/2013, 12:15 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
ummm the probably won't.  You will be very surprised on how accepting of a situation children are.  I remember growing up with pregnant woman around me - I just accepted as it is, just as my kids did.


My kids on the other hand have always been fascinated with the whole process every time I have been pregnant.

I would feel really uncomfortable not answering as I wouldn't want the child to think there was something 'wrong' with pregnancy and birth. But I am a pretty facts based person when it comes to these kinds of matters.

#24 Holidayromp

Posted 08 January 2013 - 03:00 PM

QUOTE (blackcat20 @ 08/01/2013, 03:48 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Wow, there is a lot of anti-step-parent sentiment in here!


You have got to look at it from the bio-mum's point of view.  Any mother is protective of their child(ren).  Relationships between bio-mum, father and step mother may be rather good but once the step-parent starts muscling in on the mother's territory then relationships will soon become strained as the mother starts getting very defensive and territorial about what is said and done with HER children.

No matter how big a part a step parent is in a child's life they are still second best no matter what agreements that there may be in place.

Depending on what agreements and the type of relationship a step parent has they have no right to discipline a step child, decision make for them etc without the permission of the bio-parent(s) and that goes for the important 'talks'.

If DH and I split up (heaven forbid) I would resent any step-parent trying to muscle in and parent my kids - that is my job and the job of my DH.   I can tell you right now relationships will break down very quickly.



#25 blackcat20

Posted 08 January 2013 - 03:30 PM

QUOTE (Holidayromp @ 08/01/2013, 04:00 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If DH and I split up (heaven forbid) I would resent any step-parent trying to muscle in and parent my kids - that is my job and the job of my DH.   I can tell you right now relationships will break down very quickly.


Of course! Im not saying a step parent should muscle in, but depending on arrangements, the child may be in their care 50% of the time (sometimes without bio-parent present); they cant just be ignoring these important questions.




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