Discipline For Good Stepmothers (Part One)

by Tracy Poizner  |  19.11.17 | 0:55
Not many of us make it a point to discuss serious topics like shared values before we get married or move in with a single dad. If you don’t have kids of your own, you might be worried about coming across like an evil stepmom if you have to discipline his kids when they misbehave. What does good or bad behavior look like to you, and to your partner? What’s important to you to pass on to the kids? What kind of people do you want them to be?
You need to be clear about your values because discipline is nothing more than a constant invitation to choose your battles! For a stepmother, there is the added necessity to step out of the way and let dad do most of the work. There is always some degree of humiliation involved when we are confronted with having made a mistake. Think about whether you would rather feel embarrassed in front of a parent or an outsider?
Good discipline is about continually, gently correcting a child’s interactions with the world in a way that keeps them on track to achieve their potential as human beings. Being a stepmother is like helping to birth this young person into the world, bringing them to life in another context. It’s a privilege to be able to influence a child’s development in a positive way. I think it can help us a lot in our day-to-day lives to think about discipline in this way.
Go back and think about your values. Do you value obedience more than compassion, for instance? What about loyalty? Most of us would say that loyalty is a wonderful value, but what if your stepchild’s loyalty to BM is causing a problem for you? The child might be displaying a trait that you value, but expressing it in a way that makes life hard for you. Try to be understanding.
Have these discussions with your spouse. One great suggestion from one of our Facebook group stepmoms is to pick one word each month and talk about it or have the kids write about it and how they express it – respect, honor, love, encourage. What a great way to transmit those values to the kids!
Discipline in a stepfamily is a different thing than in a first family because of the special dynamic between step-parent and child. It’s one of the things I teach stepmoms in 4-weekk group coaching program called Stepmom Success Lab. Learn more about how to fast-track your step-parenting skills while feeling more confident and in control right here.
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