Continuing with our '10 STEPS TO SUPPORTING YOUR PARTNER' series, here is Step 8
Stepparents need backing up every step of the way. When you hear your child’s furious exclamation: “She can’t tell me what to do, she isn’t my real mother!” the best thing you can do is to back your partner up and say something like: “No, she isn’t your real mother, but she is the one who calls the shots in this house and I expect you to listen to and obey her.”
Children love to play a game called ‘divide and conquer’ and the moment they detect even the smallest crack in your couples’ armour, that’s the game they will play. In order to have a happy partner and happy, contented children, it is essential to stand united.
A client’s example:
(Client’s examples are sheared with their permission – no real names are used and their identity is disguised in the interest of confidentiality). Beck never quite knew how to deal with her partner’s children when they mucked up. She, who’d never had any difficulty enforcing the house rules with her own children, was at her wit’s end when it came to his kids. She felt that it was Grant’s responsibility to enforce the same rules with them that she insisted on with hers.
After a couple of session during which we clarified each partner’s role in disciplining their partner’s children, Beck and Grant felt confident that whilst they could not expect a journey without storms, their family ship was definitely headed
in the right direction. For more information on effective discipline, you can get Sonja's Step By Step booklet entitled "The Challenge Of Discipline". To purchase online, click here.
You can back up your partner by:
* Letting your children know that you don’t expect them to love your partner, but that you do expect that they treat them with respect, which also includes respecting her wishes.
* Taking your position beside your mate as they stand their ground with your children – this is only appropriate after you and your partner have made a decision about what household rules are acceptable to you and that you are both prepared to enforce. Please ensure that your expectations are age-appropriate and reasonable!
* Confirming for your children what the consequences of their misbehaviour will be. These also need to be age-appropriate and reasonable.
* Ensuring that you carry out these consequences if and when necessary.
Be sure to return for Steps 9 & 10.