A young voice shouts, “You’re not my mom. You can’t tell me what to do!” A door slams. Feet stomp across the floor. This is an all-too-common situation stepmoms everywhere can find themselves in. There’s no way around it. Disciplining stepkids is a complicated prospect—one that can make you feel as if you’re trying to cross an emotional minefield—but it doesn’t have to be!
Experts like Deborah Duley, MSW, offer a wealth of advice.
A licensed psychotherapist and owner of the group practice Empowered Connections, LLC, Duley is a certified Stepfamily Foundation Counselor and a stepmom to two daughters.
She believes the biological parent should be the main disciplinarian. In fact, she cautions that stepmom-as-disciplinarian is a recipe for disaster. Still, that wise advice doesn’t cover every situation.
While I was a teacher, I was often home with the kids during the summer. I was faced with multiple situations wherein I needed to be in charge—not giving consequences but giving instructions like, “Come down for lunch,” “No more screen time,” and, “Please put your laundry away.” It was impossible to avoid giving instructions. I mean, I couldn’t just wait for my husband to come home from work so he could tell the kids to eat their lunch.
I decided to turn to the techniques I used in my classroom. After all, I gave instructions to other people’s kids all day long. Why wouldn’t it work at home? (Thankfully, it did!) If you’re a stepmom struggling against the learning curve that comes with disciplining other people’s children, these five tips will help you master day-to-day situations.