We are all familiar with old age tales such as Cinderella and how step mums have been perceived — evil and bad. It is for these and many reasons that many stepparents take a back seat when it comes to disciplining their stepchildren. Many stepparents are tempted to go silent instead of disciplining their step kids without realizing that in doing so they are only building up resentment and bitterness. This is not only damaging to the family unit but also to their marriages. However, what many people in this situation fail to realize is that disciplining doesn’t only involve corporal punishment. I mean, gone are the days when parents used to physically discipline their kids. There are so many more ways parents can discipline their kids without being labelled as the evil step-parent. Here are some dos and don’ts that step parents can use when it comes to disciplining their step kids:
Make sure the biological parent has your back. Biological parents must communicate to their children an expectation of obedience to the stepparent and be willing to back up the stepparent’s actions. When disagreements occur, settle them in private.
Strive for unity in parenting. Discuss behavioural expectations, boundaries, consequences, and values (read the parental unity rules). Bring your parenting philosophies in line.
Do focus on relationship building. This is your long-term strength.
Do listen to the child. If they draw into you sooner than expected, don’t look back. Use the relational authority offered you. Don’t get impatient. It often takes years to bond and develop a trusting love-relationship with children. Be persistent in bonding with them.
Communicate with the biological parent a lot! If uncertain, find parental unity before engaging the children.
Don’t be harsh or punish in a way that is inconsistent with the biological parent.
Don’t unilaterally change rules or try to make up for past parental mistakes or failings.
Blending a family is like a dish that takes a long time to cook. You can’t force it before it’s ready. But if you’re patient, the rewards are well worth the effort. Bottom line is, when disciplining your step kids, do it with love and understanding.