25 answers

Step Dad and Discipline

A little background about myself. I have 2 children (7 and 5). My ex left when I was pregnant with the second and my oldest was one and neither of the kids remember him. I have not dated since. I recently met a really nice guy in a book store. I was seeing him for about 2 months before I introduced him to the kids. It's been about 2 months since then and he is spending weekends with us on family outings and eating dinner with us 1-2 nights a week. Recently he has started to "discipline" the children. I don't have a problem with it so much because we both believe in "love and logic" for a parenting style. There are two problems though 1. My son doesn't want to listen to him because he's not his dad. I keep telling him that he does, because he's an adult and his behavior IS inappropriate. What else can I do?
2. Sometimes my S.O. feels I'm to harsh in the time out sector and contradicts me while I'm still standing there. This creates a problem because the kids don't know who to listen too. I have no experience with with two parent parenting and I have no clue what to do about this.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

discipline should be from you at this stage -
this is something I have discussed with a counselor and this is where I got my info! I am now married to "that guy" :) and still most discipline comes from me. parents should in an ideal world never disagree about discipline in front of the child and have as others mentioned a united front.

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More Answers

My dh and and I are having the same problem. He is much too laxed in the discipline area but then complains about their behavior. I, on the other hand, am very strict but rarely ever yell or lose my patience. We are having problems staying on the same page as far as the kids go. I finally had a talk with him and expressed my concern. We agreed that we both need to be consistant and never disagree in front of the children. In other words, we are a united front in their presence. Let him know that if he disagrees with you to tell you in private. Also, let your son know that he must obey all adults whether they are family or not. Good luck because it is very hard!! :)

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In my opinion, I don't think your boyfriend should be disciplining your children.

Your children should respect him and all adults. But that doesn’t mean he gets to discipline them if they don't. That's your job.

Your son could be feeling a lot of mixed feelings right now. Since he's never had to share you with anyone else (other than his sibling) he could be very jealous. This could make him act out more.

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you really need to let him know that if he has an issue with how you dicsipline your kids to not do it in front of them because they are watching and listening and soon they will start to play on that. Then you will really have a problem on your hands. But let me say this i was in this situation first hand with my parents ( my mom remarried when I was about 6) They had different styles of discipline so it became a problem because she felt he was to harch and it just came to the point where she said let me handle the discipline. But when he told me to do something and it was in the right my mother let me know that whether he was my father or not he was an adult and an adult that was helping to her take care of me and that was that. And if I got smart and mouthed off I got a whooping, plain and simple. If you let your son keeping saying that and especially so that that man can hear it or to his face your going to have some problem, your son is sill a shild and needs to stay in a child's place. If your son is wrong and your BF says something then he needs to listen and also teach him that life is about listening to ther people whether they want to or not. What's he going to do when he gets his first job and his boss tells him to do something that he does not want to do? So I hope tha you all can come to a good compromise and good luc with your new relationship.

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People have different styles and kids adjust to the adults. However, contradicting each other in front of children are always a no-no, except under extreme circumstances.

When you are present, you are the one in charge and your S.O. should defer to your judgment. Any discussions should be done in private about any differences of style or opinion. When you are together, the children should listen and respect him the way they would a teacher or any other adult.

Good luck navigating the path.

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I'm probibly gonna get lambasted for saying this BUT...
It generally does not matter how long you have been dating or if he was a stranger on the street... You are right in stressing the fact that he's an adult and adults need to be treated with respect. Your kids are still adjusting and it will take time for him to gain their respect and be treated as a member of the family. BUT they are also old enough to know that as a "friend" of the family he has their intrests at heart. He is just enforcing and backing YOU up.
On the other side of the coin, SO needs to step back a bit. In a case that they are doing wrong and you are not there, then sure, speak up and take appropriate action. But if you are there, let you handle it because he isn't the father. You say you guys are on the same page with parenting tactics, but if at any time you feel he's being too harsh pull him aside and tell him. Remember, you are the parent.

You need to sit down with your SO and tell him that when he says/ does things that contradict what you have said or done that it feels like you are being undermined. Kids pick up on that and will play it to their advantage. Give examples... But do not use words like YOU ALWAYS, or YOU NEVER. Those are accusatory. Things like I FEEL are a better way of wording things.
Good luck...
Communication is key to all relationships...

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First of all you cannot contradict each other in front of your children. You might as well not discipline at all! Make a commitment to each other (in private) that you will discuss all discipline behind closed doors. You have to appear united. Second, your children will never see a step parent in a disciplinarian role. There have been multiple studies done, and it's just the way their brains work. All you can do is back up your SO, but it's likely that you will have to enforce discipline.


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Always show a unified front with the kids. You and your S.O. can discuss differences of opinion in private. Make sure the kids respect and listen to your s.o., there may be times when he is alone with the kids and will need to be in charge.
A little about me: I am 46, married a man ten yoears ago who had two sons, then 6 and 10. They are with us full time, and the kids love and respect me. There has never been a time when they didn't. Good luck! Being a step parent is great!

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After two months, he needs to realize he is a guest, not the step Dad. Unless you are definitely planning on marriage already. I would make sure you are on the same page and I'm als the old fashioned disciplinarian. I would rather have the structure and specific rules than to let things go. If you give appropriate consequences, the bad behavior ceases much faster than a "slap on the hand". You are the Mom and remember with or without him they will be teenagers soon and they need guidance and to know there are consequences for bad choices. Keep up the good work.

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