Dr.Phil & on Discipling our SK-New

Megan - posted on 04/27/2011 ( 35 moms have responded )

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I was reading books on Discipling SK's. As someone else posted in a discussion yay or nay on discipling SK's. She was right Dr. Phil even suggest no SP (STEP parent) should be discipling your SKs. How do you feel about this?? Please read below.

Discipling Your Stepchildren:

There's no doubt that being a stepparent is one of the most difficult roles any adult will ever assume. So much pain can be avoided if you can agree on some very basic definitions of that role, and be alert to sensitivities with it.



To handle this situation with the utmost efficiency, both the biological parent and the stepparent should begin with an open and candid discussion about the fears and expectations regarding the relationship with the children. Each should know what the other expects concerning the stepparent's involvement in guiding, supervising and disciplining the children. Once you understand what each other's expectations are, you have a place to start shaping what the stepparent role will be. I always think it's important to first identify what you can agree on and thereby narrow your differences. How you ultimately define the stepparent role will, of course, be up to you. The following are my recommendations based on what I've seen work, what I've seen fail and how I think it's best to set up and define the stepparent role:



1. It's my strong belief that unless you as the stepparent are added to the family when the children are very young, it will most likely be very difficult for you to discipline your spouse's children. Every situation is different, but in most situations, disciplining your nonbiological children is fraught with danger, since it's likely to create resentment on the part of your spouse. Again, this isn't always the case, and if that's not the circumstance in your family, that's great, because it can give the biological parent an additional resource for handling discipline issues. While I don't believe it's very likely a workable situation for a stepparent to be a direct disciplinarian, it's extremely important that the stepparent be an active supporter of the biological parent's disciplinary efforts. Both biological parents and stepparents should discuss the rules of the house and negotiate an agreement for what standards the children will be held to. This element of family life should be subject to the same negotiation and joint ownership as any other family situation.



2. The stepparent, although not actively initiating direct discipline, should certainly work to maintain the normal boundaries that exist between an adult and a child. Although it may be the biological parent who delivers an initial consequence for misbehavior, it's important that the stepparent be active in support of that decision, and care should be taken that proper respect and acknowledgment of the stepparent be given. In other words, a stepfather is not simply one's mother's husband. He is in fact an adult and an authority figure in the home.



3. In relating to all the children, the stepparent should seek to define his or her relationship as that of an ally and supporter. Whether the stepparent is the same or opposite-sexed parent, their presence can play an important balancing role in terms of modeling and information-giving about life from the male or female point of view. The role of ally and supporter is in no way to be construed as an attempt to replace the biological parent.



4. It's important that the stepparent not have unrealistic expectations about their level of closeness or intimacy with the stepchildren. Relationships are built, and it takes time and shared experiences to create a meaningful one. The stepparent should also be aware that the child may be experiencing a fair amount of emotional confusion — and may in fact feel guilty that they're betraying their biological mother or father by having a close and caring relationship with their stepmother or -father. Great care and patience should be taken to allow the child an opportunity to work through those feelings.



5. The stepmother or -father should actively support the chid's relationship with the biological mother or father no longer in the home. If you are in the role of stepfather, you should make it a priority to nurture a relationship between you and the biological father and to find every possible way you can to support a relationship between him and his children. By taking the high road of facilitation, you'll find it easier to overcome feelings of resentment both on the part of the biological father and the children he no longer has daily access to. This may require some real internal commitment on your part, because supporting your stepchildren's relationship with their biological but absent parent may seem tantamount to also supporting that parent's relationship with your spouse. Don't let jealousy or envy of the bond they share with their children or the working relationship and history with your current mate cause you to be less than supportive of that relationship.



6. If you're the stepparent in a truly blended family, where both you and your spouse have children being merged into a "yours, mine and ours" scenario, you must take great care not to be perceived as playing favorites through a double standard in which your children enjoy a better standard of treatment than your stepchildren. The truth is, however unpopular or politically incorrect it may be to say, you'll very likely have decidedly stronger positive emotional feelings for your biological children than for your stepchildren, at least in the beginning. You'll need to cloak this difference in emotional intensity. As time goes on and you share life experiences with your stepchildren, there will be a leveling of emotions toward all of the children. In the meantime, you should be hypersensitive to the need to deal with each in a like fashion. It can be very helpful in the early stages to actually quantify and balance the time, activities and money spent on biological and nonbiological children.



7. If you as a biological parent are having frustrations with the stepparent and what they're doing in relation to your children, I encourage you at a very early point to stop complaining and start specifically asking for what you want and need. If, for example, you feel they're spending more time playing games with their children, ask them specifically, for example, to play three board games per week with your child. Specifically ask for what you specifically want.



In summary, let me say it's true that it's difficult to see things through someone else's eyes if you haven't walked in their shoes. Whether you're the stepparent or it's your spouse who's in that role, talk frequently about how it's going and what the experience is from the other's point of view. If both of you have good intentions and a loving heart, this can be worked out. The key is to remember that the children are passengers on this train. They didn't get an opportunity to choose whether they wanted a new family member, so great care and patience

Quote Dr. Phil



What do you ladies feel. What happens if BM isn't around? What of that?

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Firstly let me say that I dont physically discipline my SK's and never have- I do agree THAT part is not my place and I wouldnt feel comfortable doing it. That said, none of our children get much physical discipline as I believe it is a last resort measure. I prefer to try to reason with my kids. BUT in answer to your question Megan- yes I actually would prefer a stepmother to discipline my kids, for 2 reasons 1. It's doing the child no favours by allowing bad behaviour and 2. I wouldnt want her to let their father be the 'bad guy' all the time- no matter how much I might wish the situation were different, it wouldnt be fair to my children to let their best interests go by the wayside b/c I personally didnt like their stepmother or approve of my ex-partner's choices. The way i see it is- we dont always agree with the parenting decisions of our partners so what's the difference if that person happens to be our EX partner?? Often it's only our pride and that is NO basis on which to make decisions involving our children. Just saying.

Melissa - posted on 05/03/2011

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I've always been a little frustrated with Dr. Phil's view on this too. I think his ideology works great if the step-parent is either (a) part-time or (b) a step-father. What Dr. Phil doesn't seem to address is that when the situation involves a step-mother, who is raising the kids full time in her home, that there is no possible way to take a back seat on discipline. Mother's are typically the primary disciplinarian just by simple mathmatics - in other words, we usually spend more time with the children than the average father. So how can you ask a step-mother not to discipline the children when she's the one who is picking them up from school, arranging play dates, taking them to the doctors and dentist appt.'s, etc.? It's impossible! If you're the primary care giver, then you have to be able to discipline. "Just wait 'til your father gets home" only carries so much weight for so long!

Melanie - posted on 05/02/2011

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Breanna, but what are you supposed to do with sk's when they misbehave when their father is not home and they are in your care....Children end up picking it up that you do not discipline them. That's why I have always used time-outs.

Melanie - posted on 04/27/2011

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I agree on some parts about what Dr. Phil has to say. But the thing I don't agree on is not being able to discipline my SK's.....I have been in their lives since they were 1. My husband and I communicate about everything when it comes to SK's. We are on the same page with everything. When either of the kids get into trouble they end up sitting in time-out, once they are able to get out, they are asked why they had to sit there in the first place, and we tell them that it was wrong what they did and if they do that same thing again they will have to sit again. It has worked out GREAT for us. My husband used to spank them at times when they were bad (I never did it because of what BM would say) but we found out that time-out works just as well, maybe even better!

We have tried explaining what we do in our home to BM but she refuses to just put them in time-out and talk to them afterwards, all she wants to do is spank or even use a belt! (BM is even the one that has said that the children need consistency in each household starting with discipline, but she won't try what we do)

BM never really disciplined before and now that she is trying to start, the kids already walk all over her.

Jenni - posted on 05/18/2011

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Also, she is a bit of a tattle tail. ;) Jenn!!! Ben did this or that!!! So if I never disciplined her and only disciplined my son when she tattled or he is picking on her. She would hold the power in their relationship. I get my son 'in trouble' but not her. I punish him for things he does to her, but I don't punish her for things she does to him.
How detrimental would that be to their relationship? My son would grow resentful of her.
I grew up in a typical nuclear family, but even I still know the damage sibling riverly can have on sibling relationships.

My sister was always the one who never go in trouble. I took it as 'favouritism'. I was always resentful of her growing up because it seemed she never got in trouble (she was just really well-behaved). So I picked on her and tried to get her in trouble. I felt my parents loved her more than me. Obviously, I understand now that wasn't the case but as a child that's how you tend to see it.
It really put a strain on mine and her relationship. It wasn't until we became adults when we actually started to get along. We are still not all that close.

So I don't want that for my SD and my son if I can at all prevent it.

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35 Comments

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Michelle - posted on 09/24/2012

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I think Dr. Phil was saying the Bio Parent may become resentful not the child. I have two SS's who have lived with me for 9 years now. They are 13 and 18. The BM was not cooperative and full of negative drama from the beginning. Due to the turbulence I do take a back seat as much as possible for the first year or so. Because life did my allow for my husband to be home with the kids after school I became the disciplinarian during this time. It was not easy on our relationship as he would become resentful as Dr. Phil warned about and the kids would take advantage of the rift in our relationship. Over time and through therapy we have worked out many of issues but the resentment does still flare up. I have not and will not stop parenting my SS's for a long as they are in my life. Part of parenting is setting boundaries and consequences. I believe in my heart that they respect me for it and will be more productive adults as a result I my efforts. To each their own. This is only my experience.

Andrea - posted on 09/24/2012

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My SS is 14 I am his primary caregiver, he only sees his bio mom every other weekend. We dont usually use physical punishment, we have hand slaps for our younger child... but never to hurt but to get his attention. I do discipline both my children, mostly for my 14 year old SS it includes taking awake his computer or phone. When his dad gets home from work he also has to tell his dad what ever happened. I've noticed my SS gets upset with me when I discipline him but I wait an hour or so and he will come up to me and say he is sorry for whatever it was and says he understands the reasons for the punishment. My kids DO NOT resent me!

Amanda - posted on 04/12/2012

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I think there are so many different situations involving step parents that it is hard to make a black and white decision on discipline.

I, personally, am the primary disciplinarian for my bio kids and my sk's. I have been married to their father since they were 1 and 3. My husband has primary custody and even though bm is allowed 50/50 time she has made the choice to be completly absent for the last 4 years. On top of that I am a stay at home mom. I spend the most time with our children. It is only natural for me to discipline them. Our house would be awfully crazy if I was denied this option!!

In other homes bm and bd are full participants in their children's lives and it should be their responsibility to decide together how step parents should or shouldn't be involved. It should really be a case by case basis. Whatever works best for each family is going to be very different in each household.

Sally - posted on 04/10/2012

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My son has always been brought up to respect house rules and i have no problem with his sm enforcing them and his bd as no problem with his sf enforcing them. His aware rhere is no point in moaning to me or his bd because we have told him that we will not interfere in each others rules even if their different to our own. My son is now 15 and this is what works for us. If theres a problem like him not coming home and his rude etc when punished we then talk to each other and to him ,so that he knows were are on the same page. Its the same for school etc.

I also have a sd and ss and when they are in my home i expect them to follow house rules and be respectful, this is with the backing of my so and the bm.

I think the main thing is to talk. I really don't feel its fair to expect some one to look after,love and teach your child if they cannot also insist on rules and respect and think that is up to the bm/bf to help by supporting them . Its just as important for the steps to support the birth parent. Sadly for this to work you all have to get along and want to do whats best for the child, it doesn't always happen.

Sherri - posted on 03/17/2012

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I think it depends.... my SS lives in MY house. I wouldn't allow my own mother to talk to me the way my SS has talked to me. If I wouldn't accept it from anyone else, I'm not going to take it from a teenager. Furthermore, my husband doesn't get home from work until after 6 and my SS gets home at 3pm-I'm not about to walk on eggshells in my own home or subject myself to being treated like garbage just cause Dr. Phil has an opinion.

Rachel - posted on 03/10/2012

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so if my husband is at work, my step son hits another kid, I can't discipline him, send him to time out? I have to wait for my husband to come home hours later to discipline him. I don't think so, I am an adult, he is in my house; he follows the rules set by the parents of the house, whoever is there enforces them stepparent or not. Notice I said discipline, not corporal punishment.

Hollie - posted on 05/28/2011

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yes I understand your point and what you are trying to say. I agree with Dr Phil too like i said. I dont feel comfortable spanking them but I do give them a tap!

Bri - posted on 05/26/2011

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Yeah but I agree with Dr Phil on this one. I set my limits with my SK. same with bio. i dont use cooperate at all noth time outs with both my bio and SK

Sarah - posted on 05/23/2011

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That is exactly why I disipline my SDs. I would never want my children to feel like they are favored over them or vica versa I want all my children(biological or not) to be treated and loved equally.

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I totally agree. I have always wanted the balance between my SK's and Bio's to be present. Esp since my hubby is the father of all of them, I didnt ever want them to feel that the kids who live with him full time are favoured just b/c I'm their mother. I 'work' very hard to make sure there is no favouritism displayed. Sadly, I dont think my SK's see it that way for a few reasons 1. my BK's are much younger than them and as they are teens they are a little self-focused right now and probably feel the little ones get more attention- of COURSE they dont remember how much I ran around for them when THEY were little ;( 2. my hubby and I have more similar parenting styles than he and their mother so our kids have always had consistent discipline and as a result dont require it much (although like in your house, my daughter is 5 and going through that tattle-tale stage too right now); whereas b/c their mother is 'fun mom' and lets them pretty much get away with murder, it's a bit of a battle with manners and common courtesy etc when they are here- again I dont want my bio's wondering why they are held to a higher standard of behaviour than their brothers just b/c I am not their mother. and 3. B/c their mother hates me she uses every little 'story' to reassure them that myself and hubby care more about the BK's than them. Grrr! I know that this will probably chnage when they are adults and have their own families and realise the dynamic of families, regardles of whether or not it's a nuclear family- I guess a bit like you and your sister. But in the meantime it's a wee bit frustrating b/c as I said, I do actively make sure no one is favoured or singled out for either special attention or negative attention ;(

Jenni - posted on 05/18/2011

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Mandie, I too am all for disciplining without spanking SK in certain situations. A lot of times we have no other option.

In my situation, BM is the costodial parent and they have agreed upon my husband having SD every other weekend. However, we usually have her 2-4 nights every week. (BM enjoys her 'me-time' lol what a joke). So like I said before, my hubby also works shift work. There are times we have her when he's working or on nights (sleeping most of the day for 2 weeks). So it is impossible not to discipline.

My SD is very well-behaved and very eager to please. She does have the odd moment of acting out but is easily corrected through communication. But to me communications IS my form of discipline.



So according to Dr. Phil I shouldn't even be communicating with her on what behaviours are expected of her or being disappointed in her when she does engage in a forbidden behaviour. I shouldn't have reward charts for her (another form of discipline). I shouldn't teach her road safety, proper conduct in the grocery store, sharing, how to communicate her emotions, ask her to tidy up after herself, self-discipline through natural consequences etc. and as a very last resort issue a time out. I've been in her life since birth, she is almost 4 yo and I can count on one hand the number of TO's I've given her. (Now my son, is a different story! lol)



These are all forms of discipline in my house. To not discipline her in my house would be neglectful. Disciplining to me is showing that you care about your SK and want them to prosper in life. If I were to exclude her from discipline, I believe as she got older, she may see it as indifference. Since I have been an important figure in her life since birth, if she sees me 'caring' for her siblings and not her... I wouldn't be surprised if psychologically she started acting out to get my attention. Discipline can simply be encouraging positive behaviour and proper conduct. And when all else fails a punishment.



Now of course, individual situations and circumstances vary. I do agree with Dr Phil that a new addition mommy or daddy should not come in with bats swinging. Or in a family with older children. But there are certain circumstances like we have all stated where it is kosher to discipline and in some cases , punish. I still believe it is never right to punish in the form of spanking a SK. A punishment can be a TO, writting lines, chores, etc. ie: not involving physical punishment. But only in certain situations should those methods of punishment be exercised by the SP.



If you've been in the family since a very early age of the child.

If you are the primary caregiver (ie: husband works).

BM is no longer in the picture (or very rarely).



But I think what should be stressed is that a relationship has to be formed first before you can take on a 'parenting role' in you sk's life.

[deleted account]

I totally agree with you Jennifer. I also would have a problem with an SM spanking my kids but would have no issue at all with her dealing with appropriate punishment. That said- i hope it doesnt come to that, as my marriage is ticking along nicely :)

I do not and have not ever spanked my SK's- I do not see it as my place at all and would NOT have done it if asked. With my Bio's, as i said, for me spanking is a last resort as I prefer to reason with my kids. So for me, 'disciplining' my SK's was not ever a question of spanking. However, as they were 6 and 4 when I started living with their dad and we both worked full time as shift workers and there was also a time when their BM was not in the picture; I could hardly let them do as they pleased. Esp at night when their dad was at work and I was the only adult in the house.

I dont know if my method is 'perfect' but I do think it's better than the extremes of discipline that go on in their mother's house, where it ranges from laughing at/ encouraging them to do stupid/inappropriate/ dangerous things (like drinking alcohol or singing songs where the only words are 'c*nt' repeated over and over again); to traumatic screaming matches which can result in them being kicked out in the middle of the night, sworn at etc.

Jenni - posted on 05/17/2011

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I'm lost...... are we talking about spanking here? Should step parent's have the right to 'spank'? Or are we talking about discipline? Because when someone says 'discipline' I don't automatically think 'spanking'.



Discipline is a general term meaning to guide and teach good behaviour and conduct. It *can* involve spanking (ie: punishment) but I'm pretty sure that's not what Dr. Phil is referring to necessarily. He is using the general term of discipline.

If he is referring to 'spanking' when he says 'discipline' I wouldn't be surprised... it is Dr. Phil. If he is; then he needs to go out and buy a dictionary. That's like saying New Orleans has weather. When you're specifically referring to Hurricane Katrina.



If we are talking about spanking. Then no, a step parent should never spank a non-bio child.

I personally, don't believe in spanking any child. Certainly, not one that isn't a bio. If the shoe were on the other foot and a SM was spanking my child. You better believe there'd be hell to pay.

Megan - posted on 05/17/2011

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Maybe you should go on the show and argue why then, I believe its true and its becoming more and more common t o make court orders for no "cooperate," punishments, if BM feels that it is scaring her children, it could hurt the Other parent in the long run

Michelle - posted on 05/16/2011

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I don't agree with Dr. Phil and I DO think SM's should be able to discipline their SK's. With that said, I believe each family is different and aslong as the discipline methods are talked about and agreed upon between the SM and Father before any discipline in implemented. I have been a SM for 7yrs now. My SS's are 23, 16 and 12. I take a very active role in their lives out of necessity. The BM is the "fun" mom so I end up doing homework and taking care of their schooling. Exept when it comes to field trips which she has let me know its not my place to go on field trips but parent teacher conferences are okay?! I personally believe there is a time and a place for spanking. I have never spanked my SK's because the BM would probably call CPS and myself and their father have agreed to initiate other disciplinary methods like writing apology letters and loosing privileges. I can't believe anyone would say that SM's shouldn't dicsipline their SK's.

That line of thinking just perpetuate's the belief that SM's don't matter. The fact is that it takes a village and even day care employees enforce some form of discipline with the kids they watch. As do teachers and other adult figures in kids lives. To say that a SM like myself who cares for the children, feeds them, clothes them, does homework with them, wipes their tears, pay their medical bills, takes them to their sports practices, does their laundry and all other basic functions a parent does cannot use basic forms child rearing that we call discipline is ridiculous. Just saying.

Jenni - posted on 05/10/2011

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I'm going to have to second Mandie on that. As long as the SM was fair, loved my children, and didn't use physical discipline, I would have no problem whatsoever with her disciplining my children.
It may be a little tough to deal with if she is extremely lenient or extremely strict but I'd have to rationalize that there are benefits to both approaches.

Megan - posted on 05/09/2011

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Well think about it SMs if it were "your child," would you want the step parent discipling them. Most all websites says doesn't matter the main disciplinarian should be the bio's! Just saying....



i do time outs, taking away tv time, etc, it seems to work for my 3 SK's my bio's get harsh punishment (done by me)

[deleted account]

I agree with Melanie, my hubby is a shiftworker and if I dont deal with the discipline either 1. when he is on day shifts he has to walk in the door and immediately be the bad guy or 2. when he is on nights it gets forgotten between the time he gets in and the time veryone gets up the next day. So in my house, it's a'needs must' situation that I discipline them. But that said, we both decided on the rules many years ago when i became a part of the family.

Bri - posted on 05/03/2011

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Courts can have it in writing. Most therapists that my SK see's told me that Step parents should not be physical what so ever, however, time outs only. All other "punishment," should be done by the bio.

Bri - posted on 05/02/2011

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There is corrective teaching techniques along with effective parenting that doesnt involve physical punishment is what Im saying *megan lol -

Jenni - posted on 05/02/2011

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Breanna Sue- Well actually, in my situation... I believe I should discipline. But I don't believe in physical punishment for ANY of my kids. Infact, the only 'punishment' persay that I believe in his natural consequences. I do 'discipline' my SD and son by using time outs but I don't use them as a punishment. I use them as a disciplinary method for my children to calm down when they are overwhelmed and lash out physically. A chance to be calm and receptive to the lesson I am teaching them.
To clarify I view punishment and discipline as seperate entities. A punishment can be involved in teaching discipline. But you can still discipline without punishment. Hope I didn't confuse anyone even more! haha

Bri - posted on 05/02/2011

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I agree with Jennifer as well WE STEP parents shouldnt discipline at all. It can be very unhealthy for our "sk's " When they get older. You can google it anywhere and find out the results are the same NO STEP parents should discipline , regardless

Jenni - posted on 05/02/2011

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I don't believe in physical discipline anyway.

I have been in my SD's life since birth. There are many times when my husband is at work or coming off of nights (when he's asleep) that I am the exclusive care provider. She does live with BM but when she is under my care I will treat her exactly the same as my other children. That involves discipline. I may not be her BM but I have taken care of her since birth. I respect her BM and if her BM has any concerns I will regard them. If anything BM is concerned we aren't disciplining her enough. ;) She doesn't have a problem with my disciplining because she knows I'm fair. My son winds up in TO 100x more than my SD. This isn't because I discipline her any less or play favourites or what have you... it's purely based on disposition. My SD rarely engages in forbidden behaviours.

I am a positive discipline mommy and most of my discipline is based on verbal correction and passive disciplinary measures. Communication and guidance.

I am not about to let any of my children (and I view her as one of my children) be exempt from correction on forbidden behaviours when they are under my care.

My husband does correct her most of the time but there are many times when it is just me and my children. If SD hits my son during this time. She will be removed from the situation to calm herself down and I will speak with her about her behaviour and what I expect of her.

Hollie - posted on 04/29/2011

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i agree we shouldnt physically discipline our SK's no matter if the BM is in their life or not. I dont want SKs resenting myself at all. it should be my Husb to do all physical punishment. courts agree as well too

Bri - posted on 04/27/2011

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I believe by keeping track of your SK's bad behavior is fine and have my fiance do it when he comes home! Like you said I dont feel the need to "do physical discipline," to them. Thats the BD department here! However, when my child visits me 3 nites a week I give the same treatment -timeouts. they work fine for me. But I just tell hiim when he is off work of who did what to whom. Its becoming more and more popular throughout blended families. That isNOT okay with disciplining them physically.

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