Parenting a stepchild can be an entirely different set of rules than parenting your own child. You have to factor in the fact that the stepchild is also visiting another parent’s home and plan accordingly as to what rules you have at your home.
Discuss The Rules
It is wise to sit down as a married couple and discuss what each parent’s role will be in the child’s life. As a stepparent you want to be very cautious of not stepping on the other biological parents toes and balancing your expectations and rules at your home.
If at all possible, have the biological parent take the major role in discipline of the child. This will eliminate any thoughts the child may have as to favoritism and being unfair. If this is not possible, then the new couple needs to sit down together and go over some rules and what the agreed discipline should be.
Let The Child Know
After the couple has sat down together and gone over what they agree to for rules and discipline, the child and the new couple should sit down together and go over with the child what will be expected of him or her and what the disciplinary consequences will be should there be disobedience. If the child hears this from both the biological parent and the stepparent, the child is more likely to respect that the stepparent is not singling him or her out and that the stepparent does indeed have the right to dole out the discipline when needed.
By contrast, the same rules should apply to all of the children in the household. If other children misbehave, they too should have similar consequences.
The stepparent should never physically punish the child. Punishments should be more along the lines of privileges taken away or other agreed upon disciplinary actions.
It is also a great asset to be able to sit down with the biological parent that does not live with you and go over their house rules and attempt whenever possible to follow along in like fashion. Keeping rules and discipline the same at both homes will go far in helping the child to adjust.
Finding Common Ground
It can be very difficult for a child to go back and forth between two homes with two different sets of rules and consequences. Finding a common ground for rules and discipline with the other parent will go far in helping the transition for the child.
No child likes to be disciplined, but they all realize in the end that we are doing this for their own betterment and that they did the act that led to the discipline. Agreeing with your new spouse and the child’s other parent will go far in helping the child to realize that the stepparent is not an ogre or other monstrosity but rather a stepparent that deserves respect and honor and does indeed care about the child.