Who lays down the law?
Who wears the pants in a blended family? More to the point, who handles discipline?
According to blended-family blogger Cathy Meyer, the biological parent should discipline their own child or children. The stepparent should, in turn, deal with their own child.
Well, it’s an interesting dilema. I find that in our home my girlfriend and I often defer to the biological parent to dictate terms and punishment for misdeed by the kids. For us, this always entails a verbal reprimand and nothing more. But the tendency of both our children to be a tad more uneasy with the stepparent issuing the reprimand is part of a learning curve that I think takes time – and we’re still working on.
But I have never seen it as a black-and-white issue. We do consult each other regularly and we have gotten comfortable with correcting or issuing mild reprimands to the others’ child. If it’s still a learning process it is more so for our two boys, and they are coming along.
Still, Meyer seems to take a harder line in her blog:
“As a stepparent, you should avoid any decisions about the discipline of your stepchild. This can and does depend on the situation but in most cases, it is best to leave issues of discipline up to the biological parent. Your role as a stepparent is that of mentor and supporter, not parent. This is something many stepparents have a hard time coming to terms with.”
I don’t think it’s that rigid, and I think it is something that has to be overcome for a blended family to eventually succeed. What do you think?