ITA with your post, Bri276.
I think parenting is a very messy, challenging commitment. . . . but step-parenting is even more
challenging because the step parent (if disciplining their step child) would have the same responsibilities and challenges but without the very important aspect of unconditional love. I am a birth parent and a step parent, my dh is both, as well, and I can tell you that from my research and personal experience -- the feelings you feel for bio dc are just different
than the feelings you feel for dsc. For a long time, I felt guilty that I didn't feel the same exact way about my dsc as I do about my birth dc. Then I learned that it is normal. Also, watching my dh with my own dd (who is my dh's dsd) over the years, I've learned that, no matter how much he loves her, it is not the same. The degrees are just different. The degree of unconditional love, the degree of self-sacrifice as a parent, the degree a parent is willing to stretch and grow to meet the changing needs of the dc. Also, the degree to which a parent has the child's best interest at heart.
On a certain level, I think the dc are always aware of these vested interests/ variations of interests of the parent vs. the step parent. That is why it is human nature for the dc (or the bio parent!) to feel violated or resentful of the step parent -- the child can actually feel the step parent crossing their boudaries! My dd was actually a toddler when we became a family; she was very
open to my dh being 'daddy' right away. I
was the one who was having the problem with him, though! I had been a very passionate mother before we met, leaving no stone un-turned in my quest to be the best mother I could. So, even though he had known her since she was born and loved her, his feelings toward her were not quite the same as they were for his own blood. So when he responded to her and her needs, behaviours, etc. his thoughts and intentions were not running as deeply as mine would under the same circumstances. Well, I felt offended by that. I felt he needed to just back out of the controversial role of parenting and be more of her friend, as you put it, Bri276.
Than being said, of course I believe the step parent should have some
authority. But, as a pp said, I like the idea of the step parent only having authority over simpler, everyday things. I like the idea of the birth parent being the one to make the difficult decisions and meet the more complex discipline needs. That is what took years of experimenting-with for us to conclude for our
Also, one other thing. . . .
I have witnessed an interesting thing in this area of step parenting/discipline. You know how people who've never had dc often think they know better than parents how to parent/raise dc? (Until they have their own, of course.
) Well, I've seen step parents 'step' into children's lives and try to re-direct the flows of energy and tell the bio parent what's best for the child. I'm not quite sure what to label that behaviour, but my intuition tells me it's wrong -- no one knows a child and that child's needs better than his/her bio parents.