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Should Step Parents Discipline? - Page 2

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 #21 of 45
I didn't vote because none of them matched my answer.

yes, if the child lives with them. I don't think a step parent should discipline if the child only comes to their home for visitation, unless the step parent is babysitting the child alone.

post #22 of 45
Being a step-mama myself, I always tell my dh about it first. Not in a dramatic manner but just to make sure everyone is aware....if its something simple like putting away clothes or picking up then I direct him myself.But if its a yucky attitude or profane music/tv something a little heavier I always consult his dad. I think some of the motivation too is that I want to maintain a great relationship and kids are more sensitive to the step parent usually.
post #23 of 45
huge problems in my family due to stepmother trying to parent myself and my sister. of course, when she came into our lives, I was 12 and my sister was 8. Too late, in my opinion, to start a parental authoritarian relationship.
If, on the other hand, the child is a very young child or infant at the time when the relationship begins, I think it's totally appropriate for the stepparent to discipline. Although it should definitely be in line with what the bio parents desire(assuming BOTH bio parents are still involved).
But if the stepparent came into the child's life at an older age, they really need to step back and have more of a friend relationship. My stepmother never had kids of her own and tried to force her own agenda on us. It doesn't work.
post #24 of 45
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 family.

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.
post #25 of 45
My ds is 7yo and I am recently remarried (October). My DH lived with us about a year before we got married. We traversed the disipline road with him and my ds very slowly and carefully. At first he did not do any disipline, but brought issues to me. That was the getting to know the household and each other stage. Then he displined like an uncle or other non-parent adult would. Now he is still more on that ground which works well, but also a little toward the parenting side. Our agreed on limit is that he can parent all day long, but hands off. It would send me through the roof if I saw or heard about him spanking or otherwise physically disiplining my ds. If, for some reason, that level of punishment is required I will do it...fortunately, he does not believe in that type of punishment except in the most extreme cases...which we have , knock on wood, never encountered.

I think the challenge will be when the baby comes (due 9/7/05). That will add such a new dynamic to our family it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

I guess my long winded answer is that I would expect my DH to disipline my DS within the guidelines we have agreed upon. Fortunately there is great respect between the two of them so usually just a correction is all that is necessary.

post #26 of 45
It seems that age is definately a factor here. If you are involved with a child for a long time such relationships develop naturally. It also depends on the the biological parents role/support of step-parents. As the non-custodial side of things the problem is also contributed to depending on how the child and custodial biological parent view time with non-custodial parent. In my DH's case SD and the ex view is as a vacation that SD can chose to do or not do; depends on SD or the ex's mood. If they don't take him seriously then none of his actions are taken seriously and as stepparent I am even less
post #27 of 45
I have no choice but to discipline Cody....he's home with me full-time. His mom comes around every 3 mos or so for a visit...so basically I'm his "mama"...just don't "feel" it inside yet, kwim.
post #28 of 45
One complication we are having lately is that when I was stepmama only, I handled the daily stuff, supported dh in the big stuff, but only gave my 90% vote (his vote being the final desision), BUT now we have a son together, too, and those things I took the back seat on before and now not right for my bio son so I am not sure how to deal with it. For example, dh is really into computer games and lets dss play World of Warcraft for hours at a time (he's 10). On the one hand, it is their bonding thing and they usually play together, but even when not physically together, they talk about it all the time. There is no way in hell that my bio son is playing a video game for hours at a time on a sunny afternoon. Dss lives with us. I can't have such different rules for different kids but I kinda wish I hadn't been so hands off about these decisions. Video games are an example but there are more, pizza consumption, sugar cereal, just things I wouldn't have started but never felt I had the right to try to end.

On the one hand, I agree, step back and be a non-parent authority like a camp counselor/teacher/aunt, but if you plan to raise kids together and those kids will live with this dsc. . . . I don't know.
post #29 of 45
SD has to live by the rules in our house which are the rules that we raise our kids by - food consumption, tv etc. No 2 standards for DH to dole out to the kids...I won't let our kids see sd get away with things because I worry the kids will be jealous of what they perceive preferential treatment; and I had to challenge DH why he set so low standards for his daughter?

But, again, we only have visitation and that's if she shows up.
post #30 of 45
I think in most cases, yes, the step-parent can and should discipline the children. Children need to learn to interact healthily with all adults in their world (teachers, aunts/uncles, grandparents, etc) sometimes that includes correcting innappropriate behavior.

In my case, I certainly do - I didn't at first since it was all new to me (being step parent to these particular children that is - I grew up raising all kinds of kids - my siblings/cousins etc) , but I started to notice that there was this mentality that developed of things they wouldn't do around dad, but would around me... So I started stepping up things a bit more, and now we've got it down to a pretty comfortable zone. Though I still notice sometimes if I tell one to knock off a certain behavior - there's a sly glance at dad to see if he's paying attention.

I think though, that in some circumstances a step parent disciplining can be a rocky situation - say like an abusive step-father and a young girl...

It's all pretty case -dependent.
post #31 of 45
Since I SAH with my dd and dss (when he's not in school), of course I discipline. What would be the point of waiting ALL day for his father to come home, and just ignore the bad behavior while it's happening? Also, it's important IMO, for my daughter to see fairness, as in, if she gets disciplined for something, why would I let it slide if her step-brother did it?

It's consistancy that's important to me..
post #32 of 45
It's so hard to be consistant. We try to have some consistancy between our house and the X's house, plus consistancy between the older one and the younger one here, and yet there is little consistancy between my parenting and the X's, sooo. . . I still don't know. I just know I don't want my ds playing video games for hours at a time :LOL .
post #33 of 45
I agree, the hardest part of the consistancy for us, is between me and the SO. We have a hard time carrying out the others' plans for discipline....lol

Other than that, we're both the custodial parents of our children, my dd doesn't see her father at all (he's petitioning to terminate parental rights), and my dss's biomom is the 'fun mom', who does no actually parenting, so she doesn't deal with discipline at all. Her home is a free-for-all...
post #34 of 45
I have been stepmom to my SD for about 6 years. During that time i have gone from not disciplining at all to disciplining her. It has been gradual, and I have always discussed everything with DH as well. There is not physical discipline at all. She now lives with us so now there is more discipline than when she was just with us alternate weekends.

Her mother re-married to a man that lived with them for quite a while. I do not believe that he ever disciplined SD until after they were married. He did discipline her and now she hates him. I think that he should have gradually been discipling her with her mother. Sadly, a relationship ruined.
post #35 of 45
I think Dr Phil is a joke and I would never listen to his crackpot advice (did that sound harsh? sorry I really dont' like that man or the advice he gives... if I offended Dr Phil fans I am sorry.)

I think a parent is a parent, regardless of blood ties. If the step-parent is assuming the role of parent, they are a parent, regardless of biological origin. If the step parent is not assuming the role of a parent, then matters of correction should be made based on mutual choices of the parents and step-parent taking into consideration what is best for the child.

I am adopted myself and I would never recognize my biological father. Also, my husband is not my daughter's biological father - but I dare anyone to say he and my daughter don't have a parent child relationship (esp sincerh e bio father isn't in her life and never has been ebcause he didnt' want to be.) He says he loves her liek his own, and Emma loves him like any little girl would love her daddy.

It takes more than spreading seed and giving birth to be a parent. It takes a person who is actively involved in that child's life, and this would include matters of correction.
post #36 of 45

I think a parent is a parent, regardless of blood ties. If the step-parent is assuming the role of parent, they are a parent, regardless of biological origin. If the step parent is not assuming the role of a parent, then matters of correction should be made based on mutual choices of the parents and step-parent taking into consideration what is best for the child.
I agree that this sounds great, but with an older child, I think it isn't always so easy or clear cut. What if the stepparent wants to assumet he role of parent, but the teen doesn't want to see the stepparent that way? Or, if the biological parent is still in the picture and happily coparenting, is there always room for another full parent?
I think there are a lot of subtle differences in each situation.
In ours, I parents from the beginning (young child, bio parent far away) but can see I would have done differently had the situation been different.
post #37 of 45

I voted Yes

I voted YES because, as a custodial Step parent, I *am* the other adult in the house and when Dh isn't around, I'm not going to wait for him to get home on certain matters. I think it depends on what each married couple agrees to, what the living circumstances are, etc.

I was raised in the generation where we were 'disciplined' by ANY adult or authority figure, we feared the neighbor as much as our parents! Not saying WRT "spankings" or anything like that - but if we disobeyed the neighbor and they called our parents....oh boy, we knew we were dead when we got home.

I don't agree with Dr. Phil on that matter - and while I do like him and think he has alot of good advice, he's not always right. Sometimes you have to have been in a situation to fully understand it.

But I do think that it is a MUST that both spouses back each other up (if you disagree on the disciplinary action - take it up privately, NOT in front of the kids) as the married couple should be showing the kid(s) a UNITED front.

JMHO (and something our marriage had lacked over the years)
post #38 of 45

"it takes a village...

I have always believed "it takes a village to raise a child". Amost every consistant adult in a child's life will have an impact on them on way or another. We are role models no matter what our relationship is if around a child or young adult on a regular basis. Geesh, I am having a "Ghandi-like" morning I think. But, really, having a few step-parents throughout my life whom I rarely tolerated, looking back I recognize they do represent who I am to some extent.

post #39 of 45
Bearing in mind that my definition of discipline doesn't include authoritative punishment of any sort, I voted yes. I discipline my stepdaughter by redirecting behavior, setting up expectations and allowing for natural consequences and more. When a more heavy intervention or something is needed, I usually defer to her father. Of course, being as how she only stays with us for a week here and a weekend there, it's been very easy. That will change this June when she moves in for good. I will have to take a more active role. I'm ready but scared!
post #40 of 45
I voted "yes."

I have been in my girl's lives since they were 3 1/2 and 18 months, respectively. In the beginning, while we were dating, I deferred to my DH for most disciplinary actions, while the kids and I were adjusting to one another. After my DH and I were together for about 9 months, our oldest came to me and very tentatively said, "You're more than just Sarah. Can I call you mama?" I of course said yes, after consulting with my DH and the ex. Bio-mom has never had a problem with the girls calling me Mom, Mommy, or Mama. Now, I discipline the girls in the same way I will their future siblings. No, you can't paint your bedroom walls. The banister is not for climbing. I've asked you three times not to throw things at your sister...why don't you go calm down in your room for a little while?

I agree that you have to figure out what works best for you as a family. Of course on the big issues (like the day our 6 year old told me that it didn't matter how she was punished, since she doesn't have to stay in our house that long anyway) I talk to my husband, and he usually handles it. I fully accept my role as a parent, and never correct someone when they ask how old "my" kids are. If the girls don't object, why should I? However, I understand that there are going to be some "growing pains" issues, especially with the way the ex raises the girls (no discipline, to the point of watching TV at 3am if they don't want to sleep) that will require my DH to take a more "leading" role. He's always very clear though that Daddy *and* Mommy said XYZ.

We're all in this together. As long as the ex doesn't have a problem with my being active in the kids' lives, why should I? They spend time in my home, eat my food, I do their laundry, quiet their nightmares, and they call me Mom. I'm honored and blessed.
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