Saturday, August 4, 2012

Effective Discipline in Stepfamilies


Let's be quite clear that in stepfamilies the issue of discipline can be an extremely difficult one and therefore can cause a lot of confusion and anxiety. 

I cannot tell you how often I hear from disgruntled re-partnered mums and dads about their partner - "s/he is sooooooo tough on MY kids but when it comes doing anything about his/her own, s/he just turns to jelly and lets them get away with murder".

The reality is that we all have a deeper understanding and a closer connection with our own children than with someone else's. For instance: You may feel sorry for Jason (own child) when he says that he can't take the garbage out because he's got a splitting headache, but suspect Tom (partner's child) of just being lazy and lying when he uses a similar excuse. You might let Sally (own child) get away with temper tantrums thinking, 'poor thing, she's just upset about something' whilst feeling enraged about Karen’s (partner's daughter) rudeness when she forgets to say "thank you" for something you may have done for her.

Is this fair? No, but it's really rather normal. Does the fact that it's quite normal make it right? No, it doesn't....and that is one of the reasons it is imperative to understand the meaning of discipline. Having understood the true meaning and purpose of discipline it is easier to apply the same rules to both bio-and stepchildren.
As I understand it to discipline means to teach, demonstrate, lead, guide and encourage children towards being emotionally whole, loving and caring individuals. Yes, disciplining a child, or anyone for that matter, also means letting them experience the negative consequences of their inappropriate action. I am not suggesting that this is easy. It requires determination, commitment and perseverance. It requires patience, your partner's support and an unwavering faith that what you sow today, you will reap in the future.

Points to remember about discipline:

* Is a teaching and guiding process.
* Provides a child with a sense of safety and security.
* Shows a child that you care.
* Engenders responsibility and self-control.
So, to discipline means to take your responsibility as a (step)parent seriously and to take the trouble to do what it takes to help tem grow into responsible and capable adults.


A. Establish rules and consequences
B.  Communicate these rules and consequences to your (step)children
C. Enforce the rules through the use of consequences

Be sure to return next week when we'll take a closer look at these steps.

No comments: