As parents in a blended family in Massachusetts the most important issue you will face is how your children will be disciplined. Child discipline in the blended family is something you should discuss and set rules about before marrying.
In the beginning, the biological parent should be responsible for the discipline of his/her child. As the step-parent gets to know the child and develops a relationship and bond with the child their role of disciplinarian can be introduced into the relationship.
It is crucial that at some point each parent, biological and step, is permitted to and feels comfortable disciplining all the children in a blended family situation. Each parent should ultimately have a role of authority in the children’s lives but only after bonding has occurred and relationships have been established.
As in any family, it is important to give children plenty of love and balance that love with firm boundaries. This can be more difficult in the blended family until bonds have been formed and trust developed between the step-parents and children.
Below are a five tips to help develop good relationships in the blended family and establish boundaries:
Build Trust Before Setting Too Many Boundaries
1. Children are hurt by divorce. Their parent’s marriage might not have been healthy but that is of no consequence to a child. Children’s main concern is their own security. Divorce hits a child where he/she lives and they may be angry about the idea of a blended family.
Because of this, developing a loving relationship with the child should come first. When it comes to children, relationships and their sense of security always come before boundaries.
2. Loving discipline does not mean you don’t hold children accountable for their actions. You have to remember that there is a difference between “punishing” a child and holding them accountable for bad behavior.
A child needs to know who is in authority and you have to learn how to exert that authority and when dealing with an angry child there is a fine line to walk if you are the step-parent and not the biological parent.
3. Treat every child fairly and equally. This is a hard task to accomplish. We all naturally favor our own biological children BUT that favoritism should show itself in front of the step-children.
In a blended family, there is so much history and different lifestyles, coming together to create a new family means both parents need to be on the same page as far as discipline is concerned with all children.
The history and lifestyles of both families have to be incorporated into how discipline is handled in the new blended family. That is why it is important to discuss this issue before marriage.
If one parent has always used time-outs as a form of discipline and the other takes toys or phones away, you two are going to have to agree which form of discipline will follow you into the marriage.
4. Don’t be wishy-washy. Decided on how discipline will be carried out and stick to the rules. Always be firm and loving in whatever rules you set. Make it clear what kind of behavior you expect from each member of the blended family and the resulting consequences for any misbehavior.
5. Set an example for your children. Boundaries and rules apply to all, even the parents. Make sure that as a step-parent your actions mirror your expectations of the children.
Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar either through email or telephone 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation to learn more about the divorce process in Massachusetts.