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Step-siblings and boundaries

(84 Posts)
ThisMustBeMyDream Thu 31-Oct-19 18:27:15

Hi,
Just need to check this with other step parents.
What do you do with young children and dressing/undressing and bathing?
I have an almost 3 year old dsd. I have two boys, 6 and 4.
We let them lead the way with what they are comfortable with. The younger two like to have a bath together, to play.
They are all naked around each other when they are getting ready as they generally still don't have inhibitions. Dsd is still very much in the strip off at every chance phase. We follow the pants rule so they all know what is off limits etc and they are generally supervised at all times other than sleep.
They all sleep in the same room, in their own beds.
They will all have suitable rooms/privacy at the right times, but for now they are little, and our set up seems quite normal for siblings. If they were direct siblings I wouldn't be doing anything different. Neither would her dad.

Mum isn't happy as you can probably guess. Dsd appears to have said about boys having willys and girls have (not sure what term she used but some term for girl bits). Mum said she shouldn't know such rude things. Obviously I don't think for one minute knowing body parts is rude. Dad doesn't either. Me and dad parent very much the same. Mum parents very differently and is very agressive when she doesn't like something. Just want to check what other step parents of young children are doing around this issue before my OH addresses this himself.

MeridianB Thu 31-Oct-19 19:24:54

I wouldn’t have a problem with this as a mother or step mother. But... not for much longer depending when is your eldest DS turning 7? I can see that he would want his own space then but imagine the little two would be fine to bathe together for a year or two yet.

ThisMustBeMyDream Thu 31-Oct-19 19:32:14

He is 7 in a couple of weeks. He has asd and adhd so his awareness is of a younger child. I'd say he is more typical of maybe a 5 year old.
He doesn't bath with the younger two - has a shower on his own unless he requests to bath with his brother - which he does now and then.

LetsPlayDarts Thu 31-Oct-19 19:45:46

For me I'd start to create a separation at bathing/changing times. I'd also change the sleeping arrangements so dsd has her own room.

I can see why the mother would prefer this, also it avoids any false accusations that may come in the future.

SpaceDinosaur Thu 31-Oct-19 19:59:53

Surely a separation of bath and bed times is a divide in the siblings tho? A blended a family should be comfortable around each other,

"Such rude words" WTF? It's a vulva Karen. I wholly agree that children the correct names and you'll find lots of support from NSPCC for that too.

Ask DSD's mother how she is referring to her child's anatomy and ask her how she would prefer her child be included and played with at bath time.

ThisMustBeMyDream Thu 31-Oct-19 20:25:12

Own room isn't possible. It's a 3 bedroom house with a 17, 6 and 4 year old. 17 year old has the box room (literally a box which is 2m x 2m).

Plan is to change when we feel it necessary. House is fine for our needs currently, so no need to extend, move etc. 17 year old may move out in a year or two, so will just be going with the flow until we see the need for change. When my 6 year old is 10, it will likely be time for him not to share with dsd - unless either of them ask or show signs of needing it sooner. I'd anticipate dsd having the box room perhaps and the other two continuing to share if my oldest moves out. If he doesn't, or looks like he may go back and forth from here then we will extend or move.

Rainbowhairdontcare Thu 31-Oct-19 20:29:43

How often do you have your DSD with you?

SoVeryLost Thu 31-Oct-19 20:30:31

I think 10 is a little old to still be sharing. I think the law is 8 for non-biological children of different genders sharing. So you only have a year of your eldest sharing.

ThisMustBeMyDream Thu 31-Oct-19 20:37:19

Currently 4 nights a fortnight, plus half of holidays.

There's no actual laws on sharing - so please don't perpetuate that myth as it isn't helpful.

Social housing have guidelines that opposite genders should have their own space at 10 - but it isn't law. And doesn't apply to any other type of housing.

Mintjulia Thu 31-Oct-19 20:47:08

At public swimming pools, generally 8yos are expected to keep to their own changing rooms rather than all go in together.

If you set that as the expectation, would that help?

ThisMustBeMyDream Thu 31-Oct-19 20:52:23

As an expectation for which aspect?
My son will need shared changing facilities for a long while yet. We always use family cubicles or disabled changing.

ThisMustBeMyDream Thu 31-Oct-19 20:52:55

Do you mean for their own rooms? Or privacy in the bathroom/changing?

cocomelon23 Thu 31-Oct-19 21:02:33

Your near 7 year old might want their own space very soon.

ThisMustBeMyDream Thu 31-Oct-19 21:06:59

Very unlikely coco. He just isn't like other kids his age.

ThisMustBeMyDream Thu 31-Oct-19 21:08:37

My eldest was 7 when he wanted privacy. My middle one is just very different (hence the asd diagnosis!) and sees the world in a very different and innocent way. He will be unlikely to be at that stage for a little while longer.

ChaosisntapitChaosisaladder19 Thu 31-Oct-19 21:09:40

I wouldn't be happy with my dd sharing a bath with two boys that age or sharing a bedroom either. It's different when they are biologically related but no way would I let her bathe with another boy not her brother. Please respect the mother and stop bathing them together it's totally unnecessary.

ThisMustBeMyDream Thu 31-Oct-19 21:16:34

Why? He's 4. He doesn't see any different, neither does she. They enjoy the splashy playtime. OH is the one doing the bath. As he often has the 3 alone, if baths are needed, he will do it with the two who can't be left alone. Either way they would both need to be in the bathroom together and (shock horror!) naked.

OH is perfectly capable of making his own choices for his daughter - why does her preference win over his (which is done for both safety and the enjoyment of the two children who love to play together).

If you can give me a logical reason why someone has an issue bathing a fully supervised 3 and 4 year old together - let me know.

Lollypop701 Thu 31-Oct-19 21:31:00

Personally I would be ok... they’re babies still. I’ve had my friends children to stay at similar ages and they’ve wanted to get in the bath together and I’ve let them. My friends have bathed my kids. These are siblings ish? You’re not bathing the nearly 7 yo with the dsd anyway. Ignore the shit!

Firefliess Thu 31-Oct-19 22:58:30

It's tricky. I think you're doing absolutely nothing wrong, and it's quite normal for siblings (or cousins, or even friends) to share a bath at that age, or a bedroom.

But I can also see that you're familiar with boys in a way that maybe DSD's mum isn't. 7 seems young and innocent to you (especially with a 17 year old for context) But as a parent who only has a 3 year old girl, 7 year old boys might seem a bit big and scary to her. Her DD is learning about boys and how they're different from girls in a situation she has no control over and that may make her a bit nervous.

Has she met your DSs at all? She might find them less scary if she does. Can your DP explain that there's no real option for bedroom sharing right now, and DSD is happy about it? He could just put his foot down and tell her she's being unreasonable, but she might then say things to DSD which could damage her relaxed relationship with her stepbrothers. So better if her anxieties can be accepted and you try to alleviate them a bit with reassurance.

Maybe83 Thu 31-Oct-19 23:51:00

No sorry I wouldnt be at all comfortable with this.

I am a step mother with boy girl mix of step siblings and a younger half sibling.

I wouldnt bath my biological children with opposite sexs together or with cousins/friends.

I never allow my dds to share a bath with anyone.

I also wouldnt be particularly comfortable with a 7 year old sharing a room with a 3 year on a regular basis of opposite sex.

I also operate a no door closed while playing in a room rule.

The reason I have is creating of healthy boundaries and privacy and yes I will say the reducing risk of inappropriate behaviour amongst the children.

It's a difficult thing to talk or think about but it happens much more regularly than people can comprehend in all sorts of family make up s.

You have no idea what the driver is behind why she isnt comfortable.

You may guess but you dont actually know.

If you were my childs stepmother I wouldnt tell you the reason behind why I feel like that or have those rules in my house.

In a co parenting relationship when high conflict things like this have arisen I have always tried to meet my ex somewhere in the middle.

I try to remember that sometime in the future I might feel more strongly than him about a set of circumstances and give and take makes it more likely that he will agree with me in the future.

As you cant change the bedroom situation I would stop the bathing and I would dress in separate rooms.

Purpleartichoke Thu 31-Oct-19 23:57:37

Given they are not related, I wouldn’t be ok with the girl sharing with the boys, regardless of age.

ThisMustBeMyDream Fri 01-Nov-19 00:55:49

I don't think biology is an issue. Direct siblings can abuse one another. As do parents and other blood relatives. Boys abuse boys an girls abuse girls, as well as the other way around.
I think the set up you have sounds very unhealthy to be honest. I know you believe you are creating healthy boundaries - but it sounds like you have forgotten that same genders commit crimes. You'd have to separate all children for bathing, all with own rooms etc. That is not real life.

Bathing together supervised to me isn't an issue at 3 and 4. Related or not. It isn't as if my 17 year old is getting in the bath too.

Maybe83 Fri 01-Nov-19 01:08:32

I am very aware of that thank you. As I said it happens in all different types if family make ups.

My children of the same sex and are full siblings do bath separately and do have their own rooms.

Well I dont think I have an imaginary life. If it did it would some were hotter than were my current one is located.grin

ThisMustBeMyDream Fri 01-Nov-19 01:10:05

So where's the cut off for bathing kids together then?

ChaosisntapitChaosisaladder19 Fri 01-Nov-19 01:22:34

Just respect what her mothers says it's not that hard. Various postersxhave told you they wouldn't be comfortable and why.

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