Should Step Parents Discipline? - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: Should StepParents Discipline?
Yes - if there is behaviour to be redirected, why not? 70 59.83%
No - the bio parent should always do it; no matter what 11 9.40%
Sorta 1- Bio parent should be notified first- then step can go ahead 9 7.69%
Sorta 2 - both parents (bio or step) should do it together always 27 23.08%
Voters: 117. You may not vote on this poll

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#1 of 45 Old 05-09-2005, 08:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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#2 of 45 Old 05-09-2005, 08:15 PM
 
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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!!
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#3 of 45 Old 05-09-2005, 08:17 PM
 
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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.
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#4 of 45 Old 05-09-2005, 08:37 PM
 
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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.

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#5 of 45 Old 05-09-2005, 08:57 PM
 
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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.
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#6 of 45 Old 05-09-2005, 09:01 PM
 
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I'm not in a blended family now but was raised in one (two, actually) so that is where my POV is coming from.
Quote:
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.

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#7 of 45 Old 05-09-2005, 10:20 PM
 
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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.
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#8 of 45 Old 05-09-2005, 10:28 PM
 
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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.
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#9 of 45 Old 05-10-2005, 07:42 AM
 
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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.
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#10 of 45 Old 05-10-2005, 10:35 AM
 
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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.
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#11 of 45 Old 05-10-2005, 01:22 PM
 
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Quote:
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.
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#12 of 45 Old 05-10-2005, 01:26 PM
 
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Both should do it together.

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#13 of 45 Old 05-10-2005, 07:06 PM
 
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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.
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#14 of 45 Old 05-12-2005, 08:58 PM
 
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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

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#15 of 45 Old 05-13-2005, 08:35 AM
 
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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.
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#16 of 45 Old 05-17-2005, 06:38 PM
 
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Quote:
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!".
ROFLMAO!!!

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.
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#17 of 45 Old 05-17-2005, 06:40 PM
 
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Yes, step parents should discipline.

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#18 of 45 Old 05-29-2005, 11:12 PM
 
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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.
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#19 of 45 Old 05-29-2005, 11:24 PM
 
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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!
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#20 of 45 Old 05-30-2005, 01:09 AM
 
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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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#21 of 45 Old 05-31-2005, 12:01 AM
 
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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.


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#22 of 45 Old 05-31-2005, 12:04 AM
 
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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.
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#23 of 45 Old 05-31-2005, 12:55 AM
 
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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.

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#24 of 45 Old 05-31-2005, 02:18 PM
 
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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.
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#25 of 45 Old 06-01-2005, 02:37 PM
 
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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.

Anne
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#26 of 45 Old 06-01-2005, 11:24 PM
 
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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
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#27 of 45 Old 06-01-2005, 11:57 PM
 
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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.

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#28 of 45 Old 06-02-2005, 06:21 PM
 
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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.
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#29 of 45 Old 06-02-2005, 08:23 PM
 
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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.
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#30 of 45 Old 06-13-2005, 03:49 PM
 
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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.

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