Being a stepmom, it means that our stepchildren will always have another person who will teach and love them. We treat our stepchildren like our very own and like with all children, they need to believe, without ambivalence, that their lives have intrinsic worth, promise, and real meaning. When children, step and biological, are not treated with respect, the entire stepfamily suffers. However, typical blended families are very different from the average one-home biological families, especially when it comes to child discipline. Where are the boundaries? How do we gain their trust?
We put together a few factors to consider to ease the process of child discipline in blended family households.
Blended families should lead by example rather than fall into the typical bio child discipline skill set
- You need to decide up front if you are all going to try to co-parent your dependent kids as a team of informed, cooperative caregivers, or as an independent. This will help determine and allocate the responsibilities to better prepare the process. If you decide to co-parent, you need clear communication on who will be doing what and how so that boundaries don't get blurry. If you decide to be the super parent, then you will need to realize you will have all the responsibilities that come along with raising children.
- Accept that typical stepfamilies can be very different from your average one-home biological family. There are different rules and standards that will need to be adhered to. As a stepparent, you will need to learn how to earn the trust and love from the stepchildren before jumping straight into child discipline. You need to develop that relationship first.
- Slowly ease into changing pre-remarriage child discipline rules and making of new rules and/or consequences. Ideally if possible, biological parents should do much of the discipline with their own minor kids until the kids learn to trust and respect their stepparent(s).
- Expect loyalty (or values) conflicts over child discipline issues in and between your related homes. Evolve a way to deal with them that works often for your unique stepfamily. What may work for one blended family, may not work with yours. Every journey is different with many ups and downs, but the results will be rewarding.
- Try viewing discipline values that clash as different, not good/bad or right/wrong. Doing so helps avoid destructive, stressful power struggles. Having a positive mindset is key to child discipline in blended families.
- Expect dependent step-kids to test and retest your home’s child discipline rules. This is (usually) far more about their learning to trust that they are safe in confusing and new stepfamily surroundings than it is about defiance, rebellion, or “badness”. This transitional stage will be difficult for both you and the stepchildren, so try your best to imagine yourself in their shoes. Patience will go a long way.
- Help stepkids see and accept that a stepparent is not trying to replace or “become” their biological parent, but is doing parenting things like guiding, teaching, and protecting.
- If step-kids visit their other stepfamily adult(s) regularly, it helps if all stepfamily adults inform each other of key child discipline values, rules, and consequence in their respective home, and try for the collected united front where possible to prevent confusion. They will help give the children a clear cut of what is right and wrong.
We hope these tips were helpful. Remember, you are not alone; we are here for you!