As a step parent when...

Kri - posted on 03/26/2011 ( 12 moms have responded )

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As a step parent, when do you stop being the bad guy? I'm currently have this problem as everything I say ranging from 'clean your room' to 'please don't unlock the bedroom door' becomes a game of he said she said with my 7yr old stepson. I try not to engage in it and simply state what happened to his father and go on my merry way. But it wears on you and I hit my breaking point this morning after telling him for the umpteenth time to stop unlocking the bedroom door and his subsequent crying session where his father sat there and stared at me as if I was the most horrible mother ever.

So my question is, when does the stepparent stop being the bad guy...or bad woman in this case?

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Jodi - posted on 03/26/2011

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To those who say he needs to do all the disipline, I don't agree. I am 7 years into a marriage where I have 2 step children and a son of my own (plus we have one that is *ours*). We have house rules (and disrespect is very high on the list of no-nos), and while my husband is primary disciplinarian for his children (especially if it is a mjor issue), and I am primary disciplinarian for my son, we BOTH enforce house rules with one another's children. The rules are also a little different for each child, because of all the age differences (oldes is 18, youngest 6, so of course they don't all have the same rules). Sometimes, I am the only one home with them, and I refuse to do the "wait until your father gets home" card. That's just not feasible.



So it is definitely a matter of hubby and you agreeing on house rules, making them clear to the children, and backing one another on your decisions.



Believe me, we went through a few rough years in the beginning with these issues, but working together as a couple to be on the same page makes a huge difference. I don't think our marriage would have lasted if we couldn't have sorted that out.

Krista - posted on 03/26/2011

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Having the rules in writing is a great idea -- that way, they're the "house rules", and not just "my stepmom bossing me around."

Krista - posted on 03/26/2011

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In my observation, being a stepmother is a LOT harder than being a stepfather. A lot of stepfathers can just sort of stand back and let the moms deal with the kids' discipline. But when it comes to that day-to-day discipline, a lot of it DOES fall on the mom...or the stepmom, in this case.

It's unfortunate and very worrisome that your husband isn't backing you up on this. What was he doing all this time when you were telling his son to not unlock the door? Was he just sitting there like a lump and not dealing with his child?

The two of you need to have a serious talk, because your stepson should have the understanding that you and his dad are a team and that anything you tell him to do, his dad is behind you 100%.

And if the talk doesn't go well, please consider couples' therapy. I hate to be alarmist, but I've seen more than one second marriage fail over this exact issue, because the stepparent is always the odd one out. You're going to need to work hard and be proactive if you want this family to come together.

Lissa - posted on 03/26/2011

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It may not be about you being the "bad guy" as a step parent, it is more likely just that you will set and enforce rules. You need Dad to back you up here, set him down explain the issues and write up house rules. Set times for things like Saturday by 11am your room is to be cleaned with clear instructions like pick up toys, dirty clothes in laundry etc. Give these clear instructions and let him know what punishment will happen if he doesn't obey the rules, don't nag or shout, state it clearly once then follow through.
Once you have set up rules with Dad all sit down together, let Dad do the talking, explain the house rules (for everyone) and then ask your stepson if he would like to add any rules so he feels part of the process.Suggest things he might like for instance it could be a rule that you all play a game together. You and Dad have to be on the same page here, kids need to know the boundaries and know they will get the same responses from both parents, consistency makes them feel secure.

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KathieLyn - posted on 05/15/2013

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How long have you been a step parent..which by the way I hate that term because I believe once you are committed in the relationship you are the parent also and the biological parent needs to support you in that way.
I met my husband when my daughter was 2, he took on the role of dad and he has been dad now for 27 years and I was protective in some ways in the beginning but then I realised if he is here to stay he has to have rights as a parent also or it wont work, so the father of this boy needs to sit down all of you together and the 7 yr old is old enough to understand when dad says look this is my wife , she is your mom now too, I know she wont ever replace your mom as thats not why she is here but she is here because I love her and she is going to always be here and she will always be here to help me raise you, so you need to listen to her as your momrespect what she says and stop pretending its a game..we need to talk to and listen to each other to make our family the best it can be and have fun not fight. he should support you in this if he truly loves you.
Kids will always be kids but when given respect and spoke to in decent manners and listen to them sometimes their actions speak for them.
Good luck :) Kat

Isobel - posted on 03/26/2011

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You know what else might be good? Can you try taking her out for some fun things where there aren't really any rules? Going out for ice cream once a week that is actually a secret from her dad might help her build a little trust and affection :)

Jenn - posted on 03/26/2011

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Personally, I think that HE needs to be the one doing the discipline, not you. You are there to back him up. Now, if it's a case of you being alone with the child, then of course they should listen to you and follow the rules just like they would if Dad was home. But Dad needs to step up either way and make sure that the child knows that you are to be treated with respect.

Kri - posted on 03/26/2011

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Their mother is not really in their life. We pretty much have to beg her to come see the kids and she hasn't since early January.
Thank you for the advice. I took it to heart and called him and had a loooong talk about everything. We are planning to sit the kids down on Monday to set out the rules in writing and back me up with having the kids follow them. Being a stepdaughter myself(twice over in fact) I have been there so I know how it feels to be them. Hopefully all will work for the best.

Thanks to everyone who responded. I feel a lot better about the situation...right now, lol.

Medic - posted on 03/26/2011

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Never, my step mom is STILL the bad guy. The sad part is that I am 25 and they have been married 21 years and to this day I can't stand her. My dad had me and she has two boys and it was decided early on that she was NOT my mother and she would NOT discipline me because I would go against it just because it was her. My brothers and I were raised in different worlds even though we all lived in the same house because our parents had very different parenting views and it worked for us. My dad just told me I never had to like her and I never had to respect her if she didn't deserve it but I had to respect him enough to be civil.

Isobel - posted on 03/26/2011

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Oy...my kids have known my husband(ish guy) for 6 years (since they were 2 and 3.5) and living with him for a little over a year now and I STILL handle most of the discipline and he backs me up.



The sad fact is that they are his kids, and his rules need to trump yours. You guys need to sit down together and figure out what all the rules are and then he needs to enforce them with you as back up.



I don't envy you, it would be REALLY hard to step back and let him be in charge.



Do they live with you? Is their mother in their life?

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If you and your husband are not on the same page... I think you will always be the 'bad guy'. The two of you need to sit down and talk this all out before involving your stepson. If you can't talk it out.... I second the marriage counseling. Good luck!

Erica - posted on 03/26/2011

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Well your husband just needs to lay down the law with the child and let him know that these are the rules of the house and you will not be disrespected by hime any longer.

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