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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

How to make rules in blended families: Dealing with rule making in blended families

How should we deal with rule making and discipline in our blended family? Who makes the rules in a blended family?

Rules and discipline are a big part of any household whether blended or fully biological. They mold and form a family. Rules are of extreme importance in order to avoid a dysfunctional and undisciplined household with spoilt or ill-behaved children.
Rules will differ per family as well as depending on the age group of the children but there will be a standard basis of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.

When it comes to rules and discipline whether in a blended family or not, the unity and agreement as well as support of the other parent is of extreme importance. You can not have a family where the parents are not in agreement with the rules or discipline actions as the children pick up on this and are then able to manipulate the situation and their parents easily. It is for this reason that parents are not to argue about rules or discipline especially openly debating or overwriting the other parents rules or practises in front of the kids.

Who decides on the rules or disciplining practises in a blended household?

Blended families ought to decide before hand how they will handle disciplining and rule making.
It often works out best when you decide who will do what and stick to it. This prevents frustration and anger when you assume things will work a certain way and they don't.
Your options may be that:

  1. The biological parent makes the rules and sets the disciplining of the biological child and the step parent plays a supporting role agreeing with what the biological parent says in all ways.
  2. Both biological and step parent set rules or disciplining practises for all the children and support each other in every way fully backing the rule maker in any situation.
Both of these may work well except in the first case it may not be an appropriate way of running a family where the children are treated differently. It may not be fair on the children to be treated differently where one child can get away with something and the other can't based on a parent having set rules for the one and not the others. This may cause unnecessary separation and animosity or resentment for the other parent or the step / biological siblings.
Personally, I think the second option would work best in a blended family.
That being said, in an ideal work it would work perfectly but the problem comes were as mentioned earlier, the other parent overwrites the one parents rules for some or all of the kids. This is even worse if this is done in front of the children where the children will either develop a means for manipulating the parents or playing them up against each other. It may also result in the children holding the parents in the light of "good cop / bad cop". It is clear that this can not in any way have a
 positive outcome for a family.

How to avoid conflict surrounding rule making or discipline

1. As far as possible, discuss rules or discipline techniques or practises in advance. This will avoid conflict and misunderstandings.
2. As a last resort if you do find yourselves with opposing view points when it comes to a rule or discipline procedure then it is best to meet in private (in the car, in your bedroom or any where away from the children) and discuss what you are in opposition to. Decide on a solution and then present it to the kids as a unit. The important thing is to always appear as a unit to the kids.

Blended families face many struggles when it comes to rule making.

  • The Biological parent of children who do not have primary residence often bend rules to keep the children who are visiting happy. They will postpone bedtimes, avoid discipline etc in order to try and keep the children happy often out of guilt. This affects the child who does live at the residence (if there is any) as well as the step parent negatively as it is often unfair. You will often find that the children who are visiting stick to these rules and structures at their primary residence with their biological parent and use their visit as a chance to manipulate their other biological parent and stepparent.
  • Both parents may often become overly sensitive to discipline, rules or structure from the stepparent towards their biological child. This often results in unhappiness with all parties and is very hard to overcome or deal with.
Blended families can be challenging. Parenting is probably one of the biggest challenges of being in a blended family. It is important always hold your marriage up high and to remember the vows you too. Do not put parenting or anything else except God above your marriage. At the end of the day, your children will grow up, move out and go about their merry lives and you will be left with the pieces of your marriage.
If you love each other try your best to work together and be mindful of each other. Love each other, cherish your marriage and put it first.
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