Discipline (Part One): What’s So Important?

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 together. 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 this because discipline means much more than just having a time-out chair or making kids do their homework before they get to watch TV. It’s about continually 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 in another context. It’s a privilege to be able to influence a child’s development in a positive way, and can help us a lot in our day-to-day lives to think about discipline in this way.
Take a few minutes now, and write some things down for yourself. Some of the stepmoms in our Dating A Dad Facebook group have made great suggestions you can check out.
Here’s a story that comes from the book “Stepfamilies” by Dr. James Bray. One stepmom heard her SD7 using some really foul language in the back seat of the car on the way home from school. She pulled over, yelled at the girl, and sent her to her room as soon as they got home. When Dad arrived, instead of being angry at his daughter, he was horrified that his wife had reacted so harshly. He would have asked his daughter where she learned those words and explained that he doesn’t want to hear her using them because they are hurtful, impolite, etc. He undid the punishment immediately and the stepmom was left embarrassed by the lack of support from her husband. We need to avoid this kind of misunderstanding at all costs!
Dr. Bray describes three different types of stepfamily, one of which he calls the “Romantic” type. This couple is very idealistic, wanting to achieve what they think is a perfect nuclear family right away. In one case, mom told stepdad to start disciplining the kids as soon as they were married. This led to a big rift, because the son wasn’t ready to accept that kind of authority from his stepfather yet. Dr. Bray says it takes 2 years for a stepfamily to gel, and 7 years to become really be solid.
About your values. Do you think obedience is more important than compassion, for instance? What about loyalty? What if it’s loyalty to BM that’s 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. Be understanding.
Have these discussions with your spouse. Great suggestion from one of our group stepmoms 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 the values that you and DH choose to the kids!
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