Saturday, January 27, 2007

Administering Discipline

One big mistake any parent makes is overreacting when it comes to discipline. Parents who are squeezed for time and energy often try hard to solve discipline problems all at once. Add the emotional complexity of being in a stepfamily to the mix, and you've yourself a real challenge.

Here are a few reminders for administering discipline:

1. 99% of everything does not need to be solve in the next 10 minutes.

2. Discipline is a process, not an instance.

3. Relationship is the key to discipline.

4. Discipline is an educational process meant to form good habits.

5. Good discipline forms trust while overdone discipline kills trust.


Anonymous said...

My husband and I have been married 3 years. I have a 12 year old daughter and he has a 5 year old daughter, about to be 7 year old son and an about to be 9 year old son. It has been tough from the beginning. We have good times, but we still argue after 3 years, about disipline. My husband feels as though my 12 year old gets away w/ more than his 3 kids and I feel as though his 3 gets away w/ more. We hardly ever agree about the kids discipline issues. Add in my 12 year olds hormones raging and dealing w/ an almost teen. My husband and I are both stubborn which doesn't help the situation. My 12 year old and his 7 year old and our 1 year old son we had together live w/ us on a regular basis. In the beginning everyone lived w/ us. We still have the 9 year old and 5 year old everyday, because I pick them up from school and their Mom picks them up after she leaves work. The 9 year old is talking about moving back in because his Mom be getting remarried and moving 45 mins. away. (He's resented me from the beginning, but he's getting a little better) He also stays w/ us a couple of nights a week outside of regular weekend visits (which has just recently started happening since the talk of his Mom's remarriage). The 5 year old never wants to stay outside of her regular visits and sometimes not then either. Help!!!! I'm going crazy!! By the way we are trying to teach a class from the Smart Stepfamily Book as well. Are we nuts?

Fajita said...

anonymous, I don't think you're nuts. Rather, I think you're in a stepfamily that is fighting in 2 diretions - blend and remain unblended. That IS stepfamily life.

And, you're not nuts to teach the class. Unless you are claiming to be THE EXPERT on stepfamilies, you'll do fine.

In fact, your challenges are most assuredly other people's challenges as well. Share your successes and struggles. Be real in the class and the people in the class will be freed to be real too.

Emotional and relational agility are not easy skills to develop and maintain, and yet they are essential. Keep on with yor efforts, measuring success by doing good and not by making everyone happy.

Blessed said...

I'm in my first marriage to a man who was widowed after 22 years of marriage. We are both in religious work, as was his first wife before she died of cancer. As the step-dad noted in another entry, I thought my pre-marital experience of working in some very tough situations had well-prepared me to step-parent two sweet kids. Yeah, I dream when I'm asleep, too!

We have been married seven years now. The kids are both in their twenties and doing amazingly well in life as well as having a sense of family all together. It hasn't been easy, especially on "our" daughter who was a teen when her mother died and also when we married. Did I mention she changed schools twice in high school? For me, addressing discipline in our family was a challenge for several reasons:
1. My husband and his first wife had different (not better or worse) approaches to discipline than I had been raised with or expected in "my" home.
2. I wrestled with the issue mentioned earlier in this stream - that "my authority" had not yet been earned or established.
3. Our kids were, admittedly, manipulative. I felt I had no options and was very much at the mercy of teenagers at times.
4. My husband and I had not fully come to terms and agreement as as couple as to what discipline in "our" home would look like. I didn't think my ideas were too different, until I tried to "enforce" them.
5. My husband is the type who will more likely take a step back and "wait", whereas I am a woman usually of immediate action when it comes to "solving a problem."

Well, the list could go on. I say all of this mostly in hopes that I am encouraging another parent out there who feels overwhelmed, ineffective, invalidated, or with more failures than successes right now. I cannot encourage you enough to be patient. We hit some tough days, even after our kids hit their twenties. I am so very grateful for my husband - he has not given up in learning to hear my heart and recognize my struggles, even though they don't always make sense to him. I'm also very grateful for our two kids - they are a blessing to me personally. The struggles have been painful and hard and heart-breaking at times. But none of us has given up. As a daughter of divorced parents, I had not had this example close up and personal. I know this example is an important treasure we are giving our kids, and can go a long way to helping them in their own future families.

Fajita said...

Blessed, glad to have you in the conversation and thanks for your encouraging words.

Patience. Yes! Exactly. Thank-you.

What we don't need is a bunch of "quick fixes" that are only going to lead to disappointment.

Linda said...

I'm not sure I have any suggestions....just needing to be in a place with others in the same situation. Discipline is the BIGGEST issue in our marriage because there is no discilpline with my stepkids. Long story short, my husband and I are older (late 40's), I have 4 kids, he has 5. We have been married 5 yrs, together 8yrs. I have never been able to discipline his now 15 yr old daugher (the youngest of his), but neither has he. He has full custody so they have always been with us. Now as a teen, she is failing school, lying, stealing, belligerent to us and teachers. I have disengaged to keep my sanity but the daily outbursts, screaming sessions or issues with school are making my daily living out of control. I have trouble concentrating at work, trouble sleeping, headaches, etc. I have asked my husband that we have one scheduled weekend a month that his daughter go to her mothers....she refuses to go on our terms. I'm embarrased to talk to someone at my church because we are actually alter ministers and the lack of control over our own lives seems hypocritical when ministering to others.

Anonymous said...

I am in my second marriage and have never had children.I am a christian and my husband is also.We have been married for 6months.He has a son that is 15yrs old that lives with us.His daughter lives with mother an hour away.The ex-wife and my husband meet up to exchange kids which happens every couple of weeks.The kids are wonderful and very loving.There mother just had surgery that was pretty serious.The wonderful husband I have was very supportive to make sure the kids knew what is going on and to keep open communication.The ex wife wanted the son to see her after surgery and my husband and I took him to the hospital.I felt his dad was being supportive and caring father .My husband felt that he needed to go in the room with his son.My husband wanted me to go with him.I felt that we did'nt need to go into the hospital room that his son can handle visiting his mother and knows we are in the lobby if he emoitionally needs us.My husband felt like He was being rude for not going into the room with him.I said if it is in his heart that if he felt he needed to be in the room do what you have todo.My situation is that the ex-wife has made it known she does'nt want me around,but as a good samariton and as a christian I went in the room with my husband.The ex-wife made it very known she could'nt believe I was in the room.It was a negative reaction.Before my husband and I met they had become better friends not being married.When my husband had no one in his life his ex-wife would share personal problemns with him.For example she went through a miscarriage and instead of confiding in her husband to get through this she confided in her ex-husband.I explained to my husband that you're ex-wife is being unfair to her husband by confiding in her ex husband for moral support.I explained to him it is ok to pray for her but you need to sever the relationship with her.That is her husbands place to be her moral support.Now we are married and I feel he still is being to involved with the friendship.He was just being a good father going to the hospital and we know she got through surgery fine.I was bothered that he called the new husband to check on his ex-wife which he already seen her in the hospital .He felt he was'nt wrong to call to check -up on her again.I know he means well but I feel you can care for someone from a distance and not feel you got to keep checking on her.I feel the ex-wife misses that security she had with her exhusband
emotionally.My husband felt bad for me at the hospital that she made me feel not welcome.He said if she can't except my wife than she can't except his friendship.I appreciate him taking up for me but I feel he still involes hisself to much in this frienship.I feel he did right being supportive but He does'nt need to keep checking in on her thats her husbands place.I know they have to be cordial when exchaging the children and thats fine but it comes time to sever the friendship.I want to know if I am being wrong standing my ground or if I am overreacting.

Fajita said...

In response to the recent comment:

Divorce comes in many pieces. Legal, financial, emotional, and so forth.

Some pieces of divorce are more cut and dried than others. The more relational compoenets of divorce are sometimes more difficult to navigate.

Your husband might be thinking, feeling, and behaving on many levels. He may have many unspoken questions in his head and heart.
-Can't we all just get along?
-How can I make everyone happy?
-How can I relieve some guilt?

Obviosuly I don't know, but something is motivating him to invite you to cross boundaries with his former spouse you and she are not comfortable crossing.

Frienship between former spouses is OK, but it really needs to be held within bondaries - meaning that the spouse is given preference over the former spouse.

It sounds like he's areally good man trying to do the right thing. Continued conversation about how you feel (without blaming) can work toward making a distinction in his mind where the boundary is.

At the same time, stepfamily life is always messy - always. They will always be injustice somewhere. You don't have to like it or sanction it, but everyone is going to have to deal with it at some point.

Loyalty management is one of the most challenging things in stepfamilies. This is a classic case of it.

May your effeorts to navigste your situation bring your family closer together and stronger.

Anonymous said...

I am currently engaged? maybe. we had a wonderfull relationship i.e. the problems were managable. We enjoyed eachothers company and spent hours together. I had my fiance move into my home with her son 7 and my daughter 8. We realized that we have very different views on discipline. I can talk to my daughter and get through to her and explain why what she has done is right and wrong. however it is a constant struggle with her and her son. This has drove a wedge between us and has threatened to end the relationship. These differnces has made her question if there is a chance that we can get through this without causing issues with our childs lives. She came from a stepfamily with large problems. I want to make this work and she tells me she does also but there are no answers that I know of that will help this problem any suggestions?