Do You Believe Step-parents Should Discipline Their Spouses Kids?

Updated on January 21, 2013
C.R. asks from Olathe, KS
17 answers

I believe that parents (step or not) have to be on the same page as far as discipline is concerned. If mom or dad is the only one allowed to discipline their child then the child will think they can walk all over the step parent. I also believe that it was cause much stress in the adult reltionship if disipline could not be shared from both parent and step parent. I also feel that children need to respect the rules and the adults at each house. I have seen many people where they allow the child to run things because the parent feels guilty that they failed at the relationship. When my husband and I got married he had every right to discipline my daughter because we are a family! My daughter was taught that she had to respect him just as much as myself. Of course this was all before he adopted her, but she knew she could not walk all over him just because he was not her "real" dad. What are you thoughts?

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answers from Baton Rouge on

The step-parent should have as much, or as little authority as the bio-parent gives them.
My ex was fine with my method of raising my daughter before we married - after he suddenly thought that his authority over her should trump mine. Not happening.
After he and I divorced and I remarried, I made it clear that he would NOT parent her - period.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Depends on what you call discipline. My DH has always been the sheriff and I the deputy for the sks. I didn't ground them or lay out big consequences, but if I needed to reinforce house rules, I did. It was easier for me with SD because she was much younger than SS.

I think that in some cases it is inappropriate for the step to discipline. My mom made that mistake and allowed her then husband too much rule in the roost when my sister was 14 and I was out of the house. He came in and treated us guilty as charged, thought the worst of us, and treated us like little children (putting locks and parental controls on everything when we had to that point not been bad kids). He made my sister's HS years miserable and Mom was constantly in the middle.

I think especially in homes where there's 2 sets of kids, there should be HOUSE RULES and both sides enforce them, and then the big guns are reserved for the bioparent for each kid.

ETA: and it's not like I didn't fetch, carry, care for, do laundry for, feed, cheer on, sympathize with, support, etc. the kids. I just didn't tell them they were grounded for a week.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Albany on

The answer to this question for all of us is very specific to our own experiences.

In MY own personal experience, me, my SO, my ex and his SO, and our three kids live in peace because neither SO parents. Perhaps the ages of the kids make a big difference?

When my SO moved in my kids were 11, 14, and 16. As a family we were already a well oiled machine. If either SO had stepped in and tried to change that, I'd imagine a LOT of problems would have ensued.

Both steps love and support the kids. All kids have a great relationship with both steps, but neither step 'parents'. There is just no need for it.

So I have to take great issue with SH when she says a step who doesn't parent is not a real member of the family (although I love her still).

Goes back to in OUR situation, this is what is working. Might not work in EVERY situation like it does in ours.


**I should also mention there are no other kids involved. No existing stepsiblings and no new stepsiblings. I can certainly see how in the event of 50/50 custody where there are other kids living in either household, this would be a tricky situation. Everybody does what they need to do, no black and white, right or wrong here.

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answers from Portland on

I think this isn't an either/or black and white question.

My mother married my step-dad when I was about 8 or so. I hated him. The big problem was communication issues; he had 'rules' that he was very fastidious about which we had never encountered before, simply because it was stuff which my mother did not categorize as 'big deal' stuff.

Yet, to allow him to exert his authority, we were held to those rules, even though we were not INFORMED of the new rules. And frankly, some of his new rules were pretty freaking stupid--- hoops I would NEVER make a child jump through. So, there is some wisdom in keeping one parent the disciplinarian while allowing the stepparent some time to adjust to the usual way of being in the family and their 'usual' rules.

Honestly, if something happened to my sweet husband and I remarried (only reason I would ever remarry), I would be very protective of wanting my son to develop a trusting, caring relationship with my new partner. This would mean that, at least for a time, I would be the one doing the discipline. This would be in part about protecting each of them independently AND allowing them to develop their own trust relationships with each other. Just because *I* think "we are family" doesn't make it so-- I would need to see trust and acceptance from both my son and my new partner before advancing their relationship to a son/parent relationship.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Well, my friend has re-married and she has 3 kids.
And, her now Husband, is a full "parent" to her, kids.
He is, family, now.
They all talk together, they are open with each other, her Husband respects the kids and they respect him... As their now "Step Dad."
And also because, he has their best interest, at heart.
If a Step Parent, cannot "parent" then what? They are not a real part of the family. Nor of the kids lives.
But then, maybe the Ex... has issues and blah blah blah, so then the Step Parent has no say. And the Spouse, can't parent either. So that is a problem.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

If the step parent will ever be expected to supervise the child, even for a short amount of time then yes they should be allowed to discipline. The rules and consequences for breaking them should be set by bio parents though. It sends the child the message that the discipline is about them and their poor behavior, not any agenda they imagine the step parent might have.

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answers from Green Bay on

I think if the child will be in the care/supervision of the step parent (i.e. shared custody), the step parent definitely needs to discipline the child. I think it is simply a matter of the child learning to respect ALL/ANY adult/authority figure. An example outside of parents - my BIL/SIL's 3 kids have a hard time listening to adults because their parents don't have clear expectations for them and therefore, don't listen to other adults. As my son grows, I want (and expect!) that if someone else (other than me or dad) give him directions that he is to listen and follow them. So - it shouldn't matter if the person is a step parent, I believe they should be listened to and respected because they are an adult.

With all of that said, I also think it is important for all parents to be "on the same page" or at least have good communication with the other parents about discipline issues. If the two different households have different rules - i.e. what a child watches on TV or how much time is spent playing video games, it is okay to have different rules, but a child should be aware of those different expectations and the parents should respect how each other runs their own house/family.

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answers from York on

If you are both have equal responsibilities raising and taking care of the child(ren) then yes they should have every right to discipline them too. Step-parent or not the word parent is still there. Its a parent's job to teach, raise and discipline their child(ren)

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answers from Los Angeles on

I agree with you. A child needs consistency wherever they are at the moment, not to wait until a bio parent comes home or they go to their other home...and it usually won't come then anyway. They need to learn respect for the person responsible for them, whether that be a bio or step parent. Kids are perceptive and will work it for all it's worth if there isn't a united parenting team raising them, pitting all parents against each other to get their way.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I don't have step kids, but I had a stepfather.
He didn't discipline me.
Our relationship developed naturally into respect, love and sense of family.
He gave me guidance and counsel. don't think they should.
The marital relationship has to be strong enough, and the step parent adult enough to realize the situation they're stepping into.
Otherwise, it shouldn't be happening at all.
Step parenting isn't for sissies.
And from my experience, it takes a real man (and, I would assume, woman) to eventually realize a naturally evolved stepparent status. O. yhats earned, not implied by a title.
Just having a ring on his finger wouldn't authorize any man to discipline MY kid(s)!

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answers from Columbus on

Seriously, Tess? What, are you, 13?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think that if the child lives with bio parent and step parent, then the step parent must be doing some of the parenting, and those who raise you can discipline. Also, if the child is left by bio parent in the care of step parent, then yes, step parent is in charge of discipline if the child misbehaves, and not "Just wait til your father comes home!" I do think that the bio parent should determine what methods of punishment are and are not acceptable.

My husband had a friend who married into a stepdaughter. She was constantly reminding him that he wasn't her "real" dad so she didn't need to listen to him. After a few years of this, stepdad went on strike. If the kid needed her bicycle fixed, a ride to a friend's house or $15 for the movies, his response became, "Sorry, I'm not your real father, I don't have to fix bikes/give rides/give money." Stepdaughter's behavior toward him/respect improved after that!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

They have to be on the same page - and all parents should co-parent the children. Mutual respect is the key - ex to ex, parents to stepparents, parents to children, children to parents.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I agree with you to a point. It really depends on the situation. My daughter has 2 step parents (my husband & her dads wife). Overall I think we balanced it all very well.

I was never opposed to the step parents disciplining her. In fact I had the step mom over to have a discussion with my daughter about her needing to listen to the step mom more or there would be consequences. The three of us sat down & I told my daughter that I would back the step mom up on what was going on.

My husband really didn't do much disciplining but he would come to me and we would discuss it, then lay down the law together. But that's just his personality, he does the same thing with our kids too.

I think there are so many factors that it's really hard to pin point the right way to go about it; age of child, when did the parents split up, how volatile of a divorce was it, how long before the new step parent came into the picture, how good is the relationship between the real parents, etc.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dover on

I agree with you. A step-parent should be willing to accept and treat step-children as their own and if not they should not date and marry a person with kids. In turn, they should be viewed as a parent and issue both love and disciple as a parent would.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

i think it depends on age of the kids and also if other kids are there and how much time they spend together

my daughter was 4 when she met m boyfriend and he parents and disciplines her J. as he would if he and I had a kid,. we plan to have another child one day so its important to M. she's treated J. the same as any future child...Love and discipline included.

Although I have to say at times I will ask that he let M. discipline her if I notice he's gone so much with work and their interactions are shorter, onl;y because i dont want their only interactions to be negative, but i used to do the same with my ex too. his work schedule has let up so i havent asked that for a while



answers from Los Angeles on

No, i think the responsibility should lie with the bio parent.
The step parent should in no way be disrespected, however, and rules
of the house should be abided by all children including the step children.

My husb never guided or disciplined his child. He left that up to me and
then it later blew up in my face. Now, mind you I was in his child's life
since she was 3, her mom wasn't around, I loved her, played with her &
taught her things along the way. I dropped her off at school and picked
her up from school, helped her w/her homework etc.

Once we had a baby of our own, that all changed. She was jealous, I
was weary from no sleep for 1 1/2 yrs & twice I blew up at her. It all
imploded, all my fault (I do accept resp for blowing up at her) and all
for naught. Hindsight is 20/20. HE should have disciplined her (he still
has a hard time and she's 15).

The bio parent has the resp and NEEDS to be the one. While you can set rules in your own home, the BIO parent needs to be the one to step up and guide/discipline. If not, it sets up for a lot of hardship later one.
Hardship AND problems.

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