Bonus Discipline Part I: You DO Have a Say

A consistent topic I've seen across my own and other's Step-Mom oriented Facebook communities is discipline in blended families. Which makes sense! Discipline is an inevitability of ANY family, but whenever you add the blended family dynamic, it makes it all the more complicated! That's why I've decided to tackle the topic throughout a series of posts so that I can cover the many complex details related to the subject.

I've been a part of Ry's life for about two years now, and a large majority of that time we've all resided in the same home together. I tried to steer clear from involvement in discipline in the very beginning. I wanted to be a 'friend' first. I wanted to gain his trust before taking on a disciplinarian role. After all, children are more likely to build resentment towards those without biological connections to them. But soon enough there came a time where I took on a very motherly role. I was (due to our own home being his primary residence) the more prevalent female figure in his life. I'd taken on many duties, was majorly involved in his life, and he spent a significant amount of time in my care. Time passed, and our relationship changed. Being just a 'friend' wouldn't cut it anymore.

The number one question I see being asked across platforms is this:

Is it okay for a step-parent to discipline their step-child?

I see so many opinions on this matter, but I want to break it down plain and simple. If you're questioning your own right to discipline your step-child, take a look at the questions below and think about your answers:

  • Do you want your step-child/children to see you and respect you as a parental figure rather than as a 'friend?'
  • Does/Do your step-child/children live with you during any point in time throughout the year, regardless of frequency?
  • Is/Are your step-child/children under the age of 18?
  • Could your own physical/mental/emotional health be impacted by their behavior?
  • Could your current/future children's physical/mental/emotional health or their own behavior be impacted by your step-child's/children's behavior?
  • Is/Are your step-child/children ever in your sole care?
  • Do you believe in the fair treatment of both your step-children and biological children?
  • Is your spouse seeking an equal partnership in which you both are involved in rule-enforcement and boundary setting?

If you answered yes to ANY of these questions, the reality is YES, you have EVERY right to be another disciplinary figure in your step-child's life. The catch though, is that you need to develop a trusting bond with your step-child, and discipline from a loving and caring place. If your intent is not to love and teach, then you absolutely do not have the right to discipline. 

I should also add that no right to discipline should be assumed by any step-parent whose spouse does not agree to such. Talk with your significant other about his/her expectations, boundaries, and comfort level. Trust takes time. But bottom line: If your spouse, after reasonable time doesn't trust you to to discipline his/her children, I think it's fair to say you're both in the wrong relationship.

It's a tough topic, and you'll hear many with opinions that conflict with mine. Communication will be the key factor in determining what works for you and your family. After all, that's what it's all about.

Have an opinion on the matter? I'd love to hear what you have to say! Leave a comment below! Until then <3