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Global Guide to Divorce

Jack Jack the Cat

Giving step-parents authority in divorce

Step-Parenting Post-Divorce

These days with divorce around 42% in North America and the UK, marrying someone with children is a strong possibility. It is important for the biological and step parents to be on the same page when it comes to child rearing. In some families, the biological parent does all of the discipline and the step-parent is a figure head. Consider being parental partners as well as marital ones – with both of you sharing authority. If at an impasse on how to manage enforcing rules with children, seeing a counsellor before marriage is helpful.

“It takes a village to raise a child” is very true. When I see a child about to jump off a wall or some other stunt, I tell the kid to stop because they may get hurt. When we were in New Zealand, a man on the street corrected my younger son who was acting out a bit. Why do strangers have more authority than step-parents do in some blended families?

John Rosemond is an American child psychologist who has seen bad results when the family is child centered instead of ruled by the parent and step-parent. He said when he was young, his mother had a talk with him before her remarriage. She explained that what his new step-dad told him to do – he would do it. He was never to complain to her about his rules or discipline. When a biological parent sides with their child over how a step-parent handles a situation “the new family’s integrity is in deep trouble.”

When a biological parent has difficulty sharing authority with a step-parent, this suggestion may help. Consider having specific house rules – one is respectful, cleans up after themselves, does assigned chores and so forth. The step-parent is enforcing house rules and the infractions have consequences (punishment). This may make it easier to hand over the discipline reins to your spouse. I do this with visiting young guests such as “In this house we don’t put feet on the furniture” etc. Kids try to pit parents against each other in even the happiest marriages, in order to get their way. Do not allow this behavior when there is a step-parent in the picture. Dr Rosemond’s mother’s message to him prevented this from ever occurring. Have a united front and discuss issues out of ear shot of the youngsters. Keep in mind when the biological and step parents are a team with a strong marriage, this benefits the children. They have boundaries, security and clear guidelines.  Please read more