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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager guinness618's Avatar
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    Need StepMom advice
    Hi ABW moms and dads!
    I have an 8 year old stepdaughter who I love very much. Because of my husband's crazy schedule, we only get to have her every 3 weeks on the weekend. She says it ok, especially with summer coming up, she wants to hang out with her friends at the pool.
    Here's my dilemma: I don't agree with her mother's idea on tanning. She is very into tanning and laying out at the pool and has the little one right beside her, both slathered in baby oil. Yep, baby oil. No SPF here!
    Already, little one has remarked to me:
    1. I am too white and it's ugly.
    2. "You can never be too tan!"
    3. Mommy says tan marks are for losers.

    And this weekend, she came to us very upset. I asked what was the matter and she proceeded to burst out in tears because wearing socks had given her a bad tan line!!!!

    I try to stay out of things for the most part, but this just seems really unhealthy for an 8 year old little girl. Is it just me?

    And for those of you asking, "Where's the dad?" He doesn't seem to have a problem with it. When I started to talk about how being in the sun without protection can be bad for you, he pulled me aside and told me he didn't want me to teach her that the sun was bad and for her to be afraid of getting some sun.

  2. #2
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    I am a step-dad to an 8 year old girl, and a 14 year old. We have full custody though.

    You should try talking to the father. He is the only one you have any influence over isn't he? You may not agree with the mother, but there really isn't much you can do about how she raises her child.

    You will have to be really careul how you handle this. The mother could end up doing exactly what she knows will annoy the heck out of you, and there will be nothing you can do about it (as long as she doesn't hurt the child or break any laws or custodial agreements)

    I am lucky, my step-kids do not have any contact with their father.

    Being a step-parent is unbelievably difficult.

  3. #3
    Ride It Like You Stole It CowgirlUp's Avatar
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    Oye, been there, done that!

    My now 14 year old step-daughter started tanning at 8 or 9, because yup, you guessed it, her mother does it ALL the time.

    Quite frankly, if the father isn't getting involved, I don't think there is much you can do. I once tried to intervene on an even lesser issue and was called everything but a white girl by the ex and my husband just stood by because he didn't want in on it.

    Being a step parent is soooooo hard! You want to be a good parent figure but in all reality, you really are powerless when both biological parents are not in agreement with you. The best thing that I did was just lead by example. My daughter and I are both very fair and we slather on sunscreen before going out. Eventually, my step-daughter wanted in on spray time (we used spray on sports screen) and she began wearing it. Maybe it was only when she was at our house, but at least that was one less day she had full exposure.

    My heart goes out to you because I know how frustrating it is! But if the father is not backing you, you really are in a tough spot. I once asked my lawyer when my daughter's step-mother let her get so severely burned by not putting sunscreen on her that she blistered, if there was anything I could do and he said not really. That she wasn't hospitalized and it wasn't intentional harm so the courts would say nothing. Unfortunately, as step parents, we have to pick and choose our battles and the tanning thing was one I stayed out of.

    Sorry if this was no help Hopefully someone here has some better advice and who knows, you may be braver than me and tackle it head on. If you do, please share so maybe I can tackle it on my end.
    Be the change you want to see in the world ~ Gandhi

  4. #4
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Without primary custody and your husband's support on the issue, I would tread carefully. She gets nearly 3 weeks of being told (or shown) that it's good, then a weekend of mixed messages. Even with your husband's support on this, it would be tough to counteract the message she hears the other 90% of the time. Without his support on the issue, it's just about hopeless, IMHO.

    Do you know anyone with skin cancer that you could conveniently need to visit (with your step-daughter) during her next trip? I'm sure most people who are going through that would be more than willing to do whatever it takes to dissuade a kid from going down a path likely to lead to the same thing.

    Do whatever you can to help build up her self-esteem and self-worth. Any opposition you make to tanning is going to be taken as an attack on her and her self-worth, and you and your husband really need to help her to understand that the color of her skin isn't what gives her worth.
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  5. #5
    Member CouponBastard's Avatar
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    i wish I could give more insight.. just show them this!!!


  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador ladidah's Avatar
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    I used to be the one with the baby oil but now that I am older and hopefully wiser, I stay completely out of the sun.

    I think also to present a third party who is objective point of view is important. For example, news articles, health magazines. I know of two families, one a mother in her 40s and another family, where the father in their 50s DIED from skin cancer. If you show them the facts in print hopefully they will understand this is something serious.

  7. #7
    Affiliate Manager sunnypi's Avatar
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    If she likes reading magazines at all (she may be a bit young) then I believe that this month's Glamour (may have been last month's) had a fantastic article on skin cancer and how tanning isn't worth it. May be worth leaving a copy lying around that she can pick up and read?

    Although saying that, there are probably other content in the magazine that she is too young to read, but let me know if you want me to tear out the article and send it to you.


    It's a tough situation to be in, that's for sure.
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  8. #8
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    WOW, I think that picture would say alot. Even though to me it seems this almost borders on child abuse, I feel your pain from personal experience. Not much you can do - GOOD LUCK!

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador bettylou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guinness618
    3. Mommy says tan marks are for losers.
    Can't imagine why your husband divorced her!

  10. #10
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    i would try appealing to her fashion sense. what brands of suntan lotion (don't call it sunscreen) does she like? what brands are her friends using? find out, and then try to get that brand in a 15 spf. at least that is something. also try a fun application, such as the new sprays, or the sticks, especially for the face, because then it won't run into her eyes. She may be more amenable if it's not a gooey white lotion.

    also try the self tanning lotion, she may like that too, no lines! the Jergens brand is great and reasonably priced at drugstores.

  11. #11
    Member MyDayRegistry's Avatar
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    Use some reverse pysch on her.

    Call up your local tanning salon and tell them your situation. Let them know that you will be bringing her in and want them to inadvertaently ( This is important so it's not so obvious) educate her on how bad the sun is and how much better tanning beds are better for you.

    Bring her in for a special girls day out for tanning and pedicure's and get her a mystic tan. Now you've one upped the Mom and tell her she should only be going to a Tanning Salon because the Sun is So So So bad for you.

    Thats what I'd do...

  12. #12
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Arghhhhhh - this is something that happens all the time with mothers who influence their daughters on looking "good." I have been trying to assure my daughter's friends (as young as 8) for years that they are not "fat" when their mothers put them on diets for no reason other than they are built like kids and haven't grown into their height yet. So sad and makes me crazy! Teaching a young child that tan lines are unacceptable is downright insane. When kids become teenagers, they will be inundated with all this nonsense. To start them worrying about physical "perfection" at 8 is, in my mind, serious neglect and an incredibly negative influence.

    I agree with everyone else that there's not much you can do about it but I so understand wanting to help this girl. As Michael and Rgrsgrl said: "Teach by example" is all you can do but teaching by example is the most powerful form of influence. If you have a close relationship with her, she will naturally want to emulate you and hopefully will pick up on your good habits. The last thing you want to do is contradict what her mother is telling her. Just explain why YOU wear sunscreen and as much about it as she can understand.

    At least when she's with you, ask your husband if you can insist she wear sunscreen, especially now that summer is approaching when the sun will be super strong.

    For the record, I do not buy into the sun causing skin cancer. I am more concerned with the chemicals in sunscreen, but burning is never good. An all natural sunscreen is vital for protecting children's skin in the sun, especially very pale kids.

    Good luck with this, guinness618. I, too, would love to hear updates.
    Peace,

    Rexanne

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  13. #13
    CPA Network Rep Joe Lilly's Avatar
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    I won't post here because they are icky, but I'd teach her about skin grafts. (google images "Skin graft" should do the trick)

    My great uncle died a number of years ago from an infection caused by unsuccessful skin grafts to his scalp. He was bald (my family is good at that) and didn't wear sunscreen. I saw him just before his death...he was (obviously) miserable. Sunblock on the noggin ever since!!!
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  14. #14
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    Rexanne, my dad didn't die of skin cancer, he had a stroke instead, however he did have skin cancer that was on his left arm. The arm that sits in the sun out of the window when you are driving. He was a truck driver.

    Natural sun block and limiting the amount of time you spend in the sun are the best protection. And everyone is right that the whole "body image" is what is the real problem here, the tanning is just one way it is being taught.
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  15. #15
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MyDayRegistry
    Use some reverse pysch on her.

    Call up your local tanning salon and tell them your situation. Let them know that you will be bringing her in and want them to inadvertaently ( This is important so it's not so obvious) educate her on how bad the sun is and how much better tanning beds are better for you.

    Bring her in for a special girls day out for tanning and pedicure's and get her a mystic tan. Now you've one upped the Mom and tell her she should only be going to a Tanning Salon because the Sun is So So So bad for you.

    Thats what I'd do...
    You're fooling yourself if you think a tanning salon is any safer than exposure to the sun. The tanning industry's propoganda may sound convincing, but the findings of the National Toxicology Programís Ninth Report On Carcinogens 2000 are more authoritative:

    Solar UV radiation and exposure to sunlamps and sunbeds - Exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation, sunlamps, or sunbeds is listed as a "known human carcinogen." The Report cites data that indicate a causal relationship between exposure to solar radiation and melanoma and other skin cancers in humans, and that exposure to sunlamps or sunbeds is associated with melanoma. The Report also indicates that skin cancers are observed with increasing duration of exposure, and the effects are especially pronounced in individuals under 30 and for those who experience sunburn.
    National Institutes of Health News Release
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  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador ladidah's Avatar
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    I would not do the mystic tan thing. Doing that gives her the message that mommy was right that 'tan lines is for losers'. Plus all the chemicals they spray on you and having to keep it up.

    couponbastard, I missed that pic earlier but that is just gross

    rexanne, what is the all natural sunscreen you use? Is there one? Except for staying indoors...

  17. #17
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ladidah

    rexanne, what is the all natural sunscreen you use? Is there one? Except for staying indoors...
    Something I get at Trader Joe's - no clue what it's called and I don't have a bottle on hand to look. You can get all natural sun screen at most health food stores or Trader Joe's. It basically doesn't have nasty chemicals in it.
    Peace,

    Rexanne

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  18. #18
    Affiliate Manager guinness618's Avatar
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    thanks everyone for all the advice.
    I guess I have to choose my battles wisely. I think that I am just going to lead by example and wear sunscreen when she is here. Hopefully she will start to notice the difference between my skin and her mommy's leather-like skin.
    UGH!!!! This is really hard!
    I want so much for her to know that she is beautiful on the inside and not rely on her outer beauty. Daddy had HORRIBLE acne in his teens and her mom still has really bad skin. I pray that it doesn't happen to her, but know it probably will.
    And I can go on and on about the "I am so fat" thing. When I asked her what she thought about fat people, she said, "they are lazy and mean and eat too much at McDonalds". Gosh, wonder where that came from?

  19. #19
    Affiliate Manager Howard Gottlieb's Avatar
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    The advice given is good.

    I just wanna to commend you for being such a caring step mother. That can be one of the most thankless jobs around.

    I would choose your battles carefully and lead by example.
    I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die
    to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there
    isn't and die to find out there is.

  20. #20
    Affiliate Manager red80's Avatar
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    Just FYI if you look at most inspiring actresses/actors, they are not tan-- show pics of her idols/peers like Hannah Montana and any other young celebs she might like that do not tan. Look at Scarlett Johansen, Angelina Jolie- I know some of these might not appeal to an 8 year old but you get my drift...if you show her examples of people she looks up to that look beautiful in their natural skin... it might help give her a visual that she doesnt need to tan.

    If she doesnt believe it- I'd just do the "tough love" thing and tell her "not on my time-you either wear sunscreen or find an indoor activity". When she gets older and wiser- let her place the blame on mom who didnt lead her down the right path with and protet her skin. She might not like what you have to say now, but years from now she'll be thanking you for at least trying. We tend to forget we only have 1 shell so we need to take care of it!

  21. #21
    CPA Network Rep Joe Lilly's Avatar
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    Red80 funny you mention that. I was thinking of this thread this am. Both of your examples came to mind immediately for me, and then I started to make a list. Came up with:

    Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, Avril Lavigne, Mena Suvari, Elisha Cuthbert, Alicia Silverstone, Cameron Diaz, Uma Thurman, the Olsens...Even Brit is pale when she doesn't have it sprayed on, Hilary Swank (most of the time), Nicole Kidman, Katie Holmes (again most of the time)...the list of cool, not really dark celebs is quite long!
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  22. #22
    ABW Ambassador ladidah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by red80
    Just FYI if you look at most inspiring actresses/actors, they are not tan--
    Agree with red80 and joelilly.

    Not only are they not tan, they also don't have boob jobs. I know o/t but if any young girls who are looking to get enhanced, it shows that you don't need to, to be attractive.

  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador Sheri's Avatar
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    Thank you Affiliate Hound for posting the information about tanning beds.

    Whatever you do, do not get her started doing that. It will just show her that she can be tan year round and they are NOT healthy options.

    I agree that just "being the parent" when she is at your house concept is a way to go except for the fact that your husband is not on board. If he were as against it as you, then you might be able to do something about it.

    I would say lead by example. Your example, the examples of people that she might admire, etc. You'll have to wait until she is older to be able to "reason" with her and give her statistics.

    Best of luck. Most of all just love her. It sounds like she is under tremendous "you have to be a certain way to be popular and not a loser" pressure at home. As the years pass she will need all of the love and encouragement that you can give her.

    Sheri

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