[Solved] Step Dads affection advice
Hi Im hoping for some advice from as many sources as possible as Im yet to find anything else online that could help with my situation. I’ll start with a rundown.
I am divorced with no children and my new partner has 2 wonderful girls 8 and 6 (they were 6 and 4 when we met) from a previous marriage. We have been together for 2 years.
The girls biological dad is still very active and has them 50% of the time and although im yet to meet him (although Ive tried) he seems to be a good man. However alot of the reason that my partner left is because he constantly plays computer games and shows very little affection (this will become relevant shortly)
My partner and I had discussions around a year ago about what my role would be in their lives and we decided that we would create a new family where (in time) i would treat the girls as my own explaining to them that im not their father or trying to be but just another person that cares for them very much. We go on family outings regularly and have just come back from a family holiday. Everything has gone well and they view me as a parental figure with authority that loves them, and I do adore them.
The advice that I need is when it comes to affection,. I give them hugs and kisses on the cheek before bed and they will regularly just come over and give me a cuddle if they wish or cuddle up on the sofa. The eldest has started to kiss me on the lips before bed over the last few weeks which I dont feel particularly comfortable with but at the same time i dont want to shut down her affections. we have boundaries so I’m not present If they are naked and I dont wash them, however there have been a few occasions where they have felt comfortable and entered the room with no clothes on to which we ask them nicely to put clothes on . I don’t feel that its appropriate for them to be naked around me however I dont want them to feel restricted in their own home and like they are doing something wrong
So I need advice on other people’s boundaries that might be in a similar situation and also anybodys opinions on what is an appropriate level of affection to show my step daughters that ensures they feel loved and part of a family unit with out shutting them down emotionally or overdoing it.
It's a sad reflection on today's society that this discussion is necessary. My own father questioned what level of affection was appropriate with his own grandchildren, because of the changing perceptions at the time... and as a very affectionate family, never having to think that way as we were growing up, it saddened us.
Boundaries are set at different levels from family to family, I think it was pertinent that you used the term " didn't feel comfortable" with certain behaviour and in my opinion that's a fair benchmark.
You discussed what your role would be and how that should develop, with your partner and I think that was a responsible way to tackle your situation.
It's absolutely right that you make a conscious effort not to make them feel restricted in their home and I believe that as long as they are comfortable with you and want to cuddle and kiss, that's perfectly acceptable... I would say follow their lead. If you feel uncomfortable with kissing on the lips, it's fair that you should gently discourage that.
Both my grandchildren were not self conscious in the slightest, I say were because the 11 year old has already set his own boundaries and walks around with a towel now when he stays over... My 7 yr old grandson is still quite oblivious, but I'm sure that will change as he gets older.
My opinion is that you and your partner have tackled a delicate situation in a reasoned and responsible way, being awaree is half the battle to making sure that the boundaries you set are appropriate and will not damage the children's emotional development.
More importantly, the children are loved, respected and nurtured in a loving and happy environment, where arguements and parental conflict are kept from them and natural displays of affection are the norm, that's my recipe for a healthy childhood where children will thrive.
All the best
You've raised a very important point for discussion, it's easy to see how this subject might get overlooked in the bigger picture, but the family dynamic is changing at such a speed and this is a topic that we should be more comfortable with and should be discussed more often.
Here's link to our section about Step Dads over on the main website, which you may find helpful.
We also have a very active FaceBook page! Somewhere where you could perhaps canvass other step dads and see what others think!