On A Personal Note: I love that my husband and I have at times adopted different approaches to parenting. Most of the time we are on the same page and there are moments when we are not. What I have come to appreciate and respect is that my three stepsons were raised by their mother and father for a significant period of time before I came along. Therefore, I ask myself ‘who am I to come in and request that they do things differently?’ Over time I believe I can influence them and yes they are getting to know my preferences. For example: I like the word ‘pardon’ instead of ‘what’. As much as I cringe every time I hear ‘what’ I am not going to correct them. Not yet anyway. While I have known them for 3.5 years I know that building a relationship where they feel my care, support and respect is far more important then trying to change their ways.
Some stepmums are there from the beginning of their stepchildren’s lives, while others like myself, enter a child’s life after they have already developed a certain way of being in this world. In the later the children develop a personality and behaviours which can at times challenge your core values and make you question who we are, what you believe and how to be apply this whilst in a relationship with their father/mother. Dealing with any differences in parenting values is a great gift you can give to your relationship as these differences can lead to disagreements. While conflict (non-violent) to some degree is healthy. Establishing ways to accept what you can’t change and to change what you can will make living together with your stepchildren a more pleasant experience.
Here are my 3 tips for helping you to deal with parenting differences:
1. Find ways to accept what you cannot change and embrace what you can. In this process decide on what is attached to your ego and pride. If it is your ego and pride you might need to come to terms with the things you cannot change. If it is however reflective of your inner sense of self and values then take the time to speak with your partner and share how you are feeling.
2.Speak with you partner about the behaviours you find challenging and see if there is any room for a gradual change in approach to occur. Together you might be able to put an action plan in place. Keep in mind they might feel that you are being critical of them so it is really important to use ‘I’ statements and take the time to hear their response as much as you want to share. Take time to listen to their point of views and remember they may feel just a strongly about the issue as you do but have a different perspective.
3. Avoid shaming your stepkids when they might behaviour in ways which challenge your values. It is really important that you learn to manage your own emotions and adopt an attitude of responding not reacting to your partner. Reacting can cause rupture in the relationship which means you need to focus on repair before you can spend time resolving the issue.
Parenting differences can be a help or a hindrance. We are all unique so being open to the differences that you and your partner bring into the parenting situation can enrich and enliven your stepparenting experience. I love that my husband has a different perspective on some aspects of parenting then myself. I have learnt so much from him and I have told him on many occasions that I am so glad I get to parent with him and nobody else. I would love to hear what parenting with your partner is like. Head on over to my facebook group Amazing Stepmum Support Group and let us know.
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