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Should Step Parents Discipline?

Poll Results: Should StepParents Discipline?

  • 59% (70)
    Yes - if there is behaviour to be redirected, why not?
  • 9% (11)
    No - the bio parent should always do it; no matter what
  • 7% (9)
    Sorta 1- Bio parent should be notified first- then step can go ahead
  • 23% (27)
    Sorta 2 - both parents (bio or step) should do it together always
117 Total Votes  
post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 
I was thinking of this the other day when I was watching Dr. Phil. I mean, when I BY ACCIDENT left the channel on....oh heck. I watch it and enjoy it!
Anyway, on 2 separate occasions he told the stepmom (who lived with kids full time btw) that she should never discipline. She should support her husband when he does it, but it can NEVER be her.

I thought it was kinda strange. I mean, so, if jr is jumping on the couch, I go run and get dh? Huh? If I leave my kids with babysitters/aunts/uncles/grandparents/teachers they have the right to but I dont because I'm a step parent?

What do you guys think?

p.s. I dont mean discipline as in spanking/hitting or any form of abuse. I'm talking about the consequences of actions stuff.
post #2 of 45
I think it is really up to individual families. In his book he covers some of that more, but it is what your family plan is. The thing is if the kids respond well to your discipline then it really isn't an issue. His main point is that kids can resent a step's discipline and then the kid'd discipline gets out of hand. I think he would say if your step doesn't respond well to your discipline tell them you will tell their father and he will discipline them when he gets home. Then make sure he does. His main point is that there is enough natural tension between steps and kids a lot of the time that the extra stress of discipline doesn't sit well with them sometime.

However, Dr. Phil isn't a god and is not always right. Even he realizes that and that each ramily is different. If it works without undue tension, do it.

In his book he also says that if the kids are really young when the step gets involved then kids can readily accept discipline from them. My dss will always have memories of me and my disciplining him since I was apart of his life since he was a baby, so I don't worry about it. If I catch dss doing something he shouldn't, dh and I are often sending him to time out at the same time. lol, that happens a lot when there are two people who are actually consistent with a discipline plan. If dh isn't here, then I definately discipline dss. Since dss takes all disicpline so personally, it works really well with him. THANK GOODNESS!!
post #3 of 45
Oh, and I didn't vote, because I didn't like any of the answers since I would just say it highly depends on the families and children involved.
post #4 of 45
I voted for the last one because I thnk it should be discussed and agreed upon by all parents. My stepmom was under the impression that she could discipline us but my dad could not discipline her children. It was a mess! Her kids do not know how to behave when they are visiting and now my stepmom realizes that, she has told me on more than one occasion that had she let my dad help out in that area when they first got married things would be alot better regarding visitations. Oh well, that's her duh IMO. I don't think that because you have step attached to yourself you are incapable of being a parent and knowing what needs to be stopped. I do think though that ALL parents shoudl be involved. The mom and the dad and the step(s). A discipline style should be agreed upon by everyone so nothing gets misinterpreted and what not.
post #5 of 45
My DH and I were seperated for 2.5 years and we were both involved in other realtionships during that period, so my experience is not with actual "legal" step parenting. But my exSTBX(DH), my (former)SO and I were all on the same page with parenting and all three of us handled discipline on our "shifts". I don't think I could have a child living in my house that I had no recourse with. We are currently raising my nephew and it has been a trial figuring out the parenting roles.

Coming from a divorced family as a teen, my steps didn't discipline, they just complained to the bioparent. So any punishment was seen as a result of bio being nagged at-not from whatever I had done.
post #6 of 45
I'm not in a blended family now but was raised in one (two, actually) so that is where my POV is coming from.
Originally Posted by SillyTreeFairy
In his book he also says that if the kids are really young when the step gets involved then kids can readily accept discipline from them.
I have to agree, to an extent, with this statement. My dad and stepmom married when I was 10. I had a loving respectful relationship with my stepmom and had no issues with her disciplining me.

I was 12 when my mom married my stepfather. From the beginning I never liked the man (still don't) - we always had a horrible relationship. He was demeaning and condescending. To this day I get mad when I remember him disciplining me. I felt like my mother didn't even try to talk to me and shoved everything off on him. I resented him and felt that he had no right to discipline me. The resentment and hatred I felt towards him did not stem from him disciplining me but they did grow because of that. There were also other issues caused these feelings. To this day if I never saw the man again then I would be happy.

Whew, where did that vent come from? : Bottom line, I think it depends on how the relationship is between the adult and the child.
post #7 of 45
I think you should be able to. No beating of course, from any parent, but "no, don't do that" "stop jumping on the couch, you'll hurt yourself" um, yes! What am I gonna let the kids hurt themselfs or tear up my house, cause I'm a step parent, no! Any kid in my house is going to be told if they are doing wrong, and disciplined if needed.
post #8 of 45
I think maybe he is saying punishment should be doled out by the bio parent. Or at least that's the only sense I can make of it. Redirection isn't so bad.
As an adult in the home, I think the step-parent should be included. It would be his/her couch in the home, too.
post #9 of 45
Oh Please. This man gets under my skin like a splinter.
My fiance, who isn't actually a full-fledged step dad yet, disciplines my kids all the time. Disciplines in the way I would, and it is fine.
My ex's gf also disciplines my kids, as does every other mature adult who has my children in their care from time to time.
For serious issues, we always discuss with each other first what should be done, even go so far as to also talk to my ex, so that we are all on the same page, but for the little, every day things, if redirection is needed, he handles it. Case in point..we went out to dinner for Mother's Day, and my 4 year old started spinning around in line, it was very crowded as we waited for our seats, with wait staff walking back and forth. Jeff bent down to face level and told Rick "Stop spinning. You are in a restaurant." This worked for a little, but when he got fidgety again, Jeff took him outside and let him run around a little bit.
I think if it is done in a way your own principles do not agree with, then yes, you may have to be the only one who handles it, but I would hope in a marriage situation, you know enough about each other's ideals to be on the same page as far as discipline is concerned, or at least respect how each other parents.
post #10 of 45
I suppose it depends on the family, but I voted yes.

I think the notion that stepparents and discipline don't mix comes from a different idea of 'discipline' than we have in our family -- sort of an [ominous music] "it's discipline time" idea, as opposed to guidance and natural consequences. After all, natural consequences would seem pretty unnatural, if they came as "wait until your father gets home, then there'll be a natural consequence!"

Where appropriate, I suppose I "disciplined" solo with my stepkids, in that I responded to their behaviour when I was the one who was present for it. When issues came up, dh and I preferred to deal with them together with the kids, to discuss and come up with solutions - but that's not because I was a step, it's because that's just how we do things in our family, with any of the kids.
post #11 of 45
Originally Posted by mammastar2
I think the notion that stepparents and discipline don't mix comes from a different idea of 'discipline' than we have in our family -- sort of an [ominous music] "it's discipline time" idea, as opposed to guidance and natural consequences.
That's what I was trying to say.
post #12 of 45
Both should do it together.
post #13 of 45
When you say together, do you mean on the same page or everytime together, every incident?

I agree with having the same plan but I can't go get my husband everytime dss doesn't clean up his dishes or something, of course. Dss was 5 when we got married and he was very accepting of me. He has never (YET) said that I 'm not his real mom or something since that wouldn't help. Dh as always been clear with him that an adult we leave him with is in charge so of course that means me, too.

As he gets older though, I do difer to dh a bit, step back a little. I don't know if this is 1. that his mom is back in town and is engaged so it seems like he has enough parents around here or 2. my fear of upsetting this balance. Of him actually resenting me when now we get along so smoothly. I feel lucky that he doesn;t pull that "you're not my real mom" thing so I shouldn't push it. Of course, if I'm home alone, I'm in charge but if dh is home, I kinda poke him in the shoulder and nudge him on.
post #14 of 45
I think that ifthe step=parent is ever to be respected as a parent they need to discipline the child also. I'm assuming here that both parent share the same general ideas of discipline
post #15 of 45
We lay out the rules of the house together but DH is responsible for applying any form of discipline. Dh used to work night/24 hour shifts and I did discipline. DSD took it home and told her mother how mean I was. The ex told DSD that she did not have to listen to me and spent weeks harrassing DH. DSD has been told by her therapists she has to live by the rules in each household and at 10 she is capable of understanding and following them but of course her mom tells her she doesn't have too; and since there are no boundaries at her moms home (to the point the kids are ignored and left in front of tv 24/7, a bag of chips can be considered dinner, fruit roll ups contain real fruit and therefor you don't need fruit etc)... When I went in to get help to survive this stuff I was told the same thing apparently "dr phil" is advising. I correct certain behaviours and when things are huge they both pay the price. DSD kept amoxycillin in her bag the last time she was here and the kids found it - I about lost my mind. I am allergic to PCN products etc and my kids could be too not to mention dying, choking etc not to mention what child is supposed to keep their own meds. I was angry at DH for not following through and DSD because she knows better.
Again, our family lives very differently from DHs ex.
post #16 of 45
Originally Posted by mammastar2
After all, natural consequences would seem pretty unnatural, if they came as "wait until your father gets home, then there'll be a natural consequence!".

No kidding!

If spanking or other undesireable disciplinary practices were involved, I'd say "hell no" but then no one should be treating *anyone's* kids like that anyway.

Gentle Discipline, almost by definition, can be used by *anyone* reagardless of the "pecking order". Hell, my daughter uses it on *me* from time to time.
post #17 of 45
Yes, step parents should discipline.
post #18 of 45
I think the whole "step-parents shouldn't discipline" thing comes both from an ominous view of discipline, as another poster pointed out, and also from the canonical blended family being for a lot of people a late second marriage with teenage stepchildren. People of Dr. Phil's class and generation aren't thinking about the fact that for many, many families the step-parent IS a parental figure, for all intents and purposes.
post #19 of 45
absolutely! I don't think my children would respect my dh or his rules if he wasn't allowed to discipline. I can't even begin to imagine what kind of hell would break loose if I were a SAH step-mom and I wasn't allowed to discipline!
post #20 of 45
I think it's up to each family, but in ours the answer is "yes". It's what works for us.

(Coming from a blended family and having had a wretched step-mother...or two...)

OT: I can't believe I didn't notice this forum before!
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