I am the mom to my daughter only. I, thankfully, do not have a blended family in which I have to try to navigate the rules of disciplining step children. I find trying to figure out the rules with the one hard enough. I give anyone with step children TONS of credit.
The website imom.com has a feature with Dr. Kevin Leman, of Living in a Step-family Without Getting Stepped On, which offered some great advice.
n the book, Living in a Step-family without Getting Stepped On, Dr. Kevin Leman provides key insights into how to discipline children within a blended family.
Dr. Leman says, “In any family, the key to discipline is finding the right balance between giving the children plenty of love and giving them adequate limits that hold them accountable for their actions. In the blended family, this problem is multiplied because suddenly, children and adults are brought together in a stepparent/stepchild relationship. They have no history, no bonds have formed, no trust has been developed.”
Keep in mind that the process will be slow, and you will need to focus on building a relationship and earning the children’s respect before you can become a full disciplinarian to your stepchildren.
Dr. Leman provides the following guidelines that will help you ease into the role of disciplinarian to your stepchildren.
1. Relationships come before rules. Especially in a newly-formed step-family, be sensitive to the children’s emotional needs, and discipline gently but firmly. In the early stages as a stepmom, let your husband assume responsibility for the discipline of your stepchildren, although you should both work together in setting consistent rules.
2. The whole is more important than the parts. Personalities, birth order and previous lifestyles make each child in a stepfamily different. But you will need to treat each family member fairly, giving each child an “equal opportunity to participate and contribute” in the family.
3. You are in healthy authority over your kids. Dr. Leman cautions against being either too authoritarian or too permissive with any children in your household.
4. Hold children accountable for their actions. According to Dr. Leman, “Loving Discipline does not punish but lets the child pay a reasonable consequence for misbehavior or a poor attitude.” Rules must be clearly established, as well as the consequences. In the beginning, your husband will be the enforcer of these consequences, but you both need to work together at setting these rules.
5. Let reality be the teacher. Let the consequences speak for themselves in discipline, and not harsh words.
See the other key points by clicking HERE.