It’s not uncommon for a new stepparent to attempt a disciplinarian role before a relationship is formed with his/her stepchild. However, it is one of the most damaging mistakes a stepparent can make. Without a relationship, disciplining a stepchild will create anger and resentment toward his/her stepparent.
When a child’s biological parent takes the lead in disciplining his/her children, it allows the stepparent a chance to naturally bond with the children. As a friend, a stepparent can build trust and understanding of each other.
On occasion, the stepparent might even take the “good guy” role. When there is positive news to share with the stepfamily, let the stepparent present it. When the family is planning a special trip, let the stepparent take part in soliciting ideas and suggestions from the kids on where to go and what to do. The more frequently a stepparent can be seen as someone making a positive offering to the family, the quicker a relationship can be formed with his/her stepchildren.
As trust and compatibility are established, a stepparent can slowly begin moving into a parental role. It usually happens quicker with younger children and may not ever happen with older children. But it’s important for a stepparent to always consider how well the relationship is developing before attempting parental discipline. It’s easier to continue the “friend role” for a longer period than undo the damage of a “parental role” taken too soon.
Have you sought to offer friendship with your stepchildren first?