Stepfamily Living – Part 5

Session 12 | Episode 5

What about Discipline?

In the early days we recommend that the biological parent is the primary one to correct and discipline children.  The stepparent hasn’t really earned the right to that position yet.  It’s important for the parents to privately discuss discipline in the home, just like nuclear parents must.  They need to agree on what is appropriate behaviour and age-appropriate discipline.  Parents must present a united front, so children are not able to manipulate and divide the parents.  Once you agree as a couple, the primary discipline is administered by the biological parent.  This authority may change slowly over time but should never be assumed by a stepparent. 

The goal is not a power struggle between stepparent and stepchild, but rather focusing on building a relationship of trust. Don’t be impatient because building trust can take years.

The goal is not a power struggle between stepparent and stepchild, but rather focusing on building a relationship of trust. Don’t be impatient because building trust can take years.

The exception is if the bio parent is not present.  Then, just as a teacher in school has authority for children in their class, the stepparent can step in and correct the stepchild.  The stepparent’s authority in this situation should be communicated by the biological parent in advance and reinforced when necessary.  This is not an opportunity for the stepparent to be harsh and finally have control.  A stepparent’s discipline should rather err on the side of restraint, exercising just enough authority to maintain respect or safety of other children.  Disrespect should never be accepted. 

Children are more likely to respond to a stepparent’s authority if they feel they can trust the stepparent has their best interest at heart.  An important way to build this trust is to show interest in something the child is interested in and actively listen when the child is speaking. 

The goal is not a power struggle between stepparent and stepchild, but rather focusing on building a relationship of trust.  Don’t be impatient because building trust can take years. 

Presented by

Patty Borgert

Patty Borgert

Patty has a degree in Family Studies from New Mexico State University in the US. She has lived in Africa for 45 years and has worked in Eswatini, Zimbabwe and South Africa. She and her husband, Ken, have been married for thirty-five years and have two children. They have been working with FamilyLife, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, for thirty-four years.

Patty Borgert

Patty Borgert

Patty has a degree in Family Studies from New Mexico State University in the US. She has lived in Africa for 45 years and has worked in Eswatini, Zimbabwe and South Africa. She and her husband, Ken, have been married for thirty-five years and have two children. They have been working with FamilyLife, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, for thirty-four years.

Where to listen

Share it

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.