Discipline Strategies for the New Step Parent

As a “bonus parent” your first job is to make friends with your partners child. Spend one on one time with them, ask about their feelings and really get to know them. Don’t make the mistake of becoming the disciplinarian before you learn what the status quo has been. The best way to do this is when your dating. When the relationship has become serious enough for you to meet the children, spend time with them in their home. Notice what the expectations and interactions are. Ask questions about the rules, the expectations, the rewards and consequences.

See if you can find acceptance for the discipline and boundaries that your partner has put in place for their children. Everyone parents differently. Don’t expect your partner to totally change their parenting style just because they are now in a relationship with you. If there are things in the parenting style that directly affect you or your relationship, talk about those things by offering to find compromise and looking for solutions. Putting your partners child down or making negative predictions about who they will be if the children are allowed to do whatever will only cause resentment in your marriage.

For example:
1st Observe The kids don’t pick up their dishes after dinner.
2nd Ask your partner if this has ever been an expectation and why or why not.
3rd Accept Allow your partner to continue with their style: If there has never been a different expectation and your spouse has and wants to continue to pick up after them allow them this choice.
4th Modify If their choice affects you find solutions: If your left to pick up after them tell your partner that this won’t work for you and you need their support for the two of you to tell the children that the new expectation is that they put their dishes in the dishwasher after dinner.
Remember that your partners child is not a guest in your home. They are a family member. they have rights and responsibilities. Them not being allowed in their home with their parent is not an option unless there are severe circumstances and your partner is in agreement. Never make your partner choose between their child or you. It’s not only unfair, it’s also unloving and toxic.

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