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Stepparenting: Punishment May Differ in Each Parent's House

When biological parents have joint custody, the children will quickly realize that just as the rules may differ from house to house, so does the punishment. One parent may use "time out" while the other believes in spankings. One may take away privileges such as television watching or playing on the computer while the other just lectures or yells. While it would be easier on the children if the biological parents could agree on the same punishment for infractions of rules, this compromise rarely seems to occur.

In some cases, when the biological parents communicate effectively, each will honor the other's punishment restrictions. "Your father said you aren't permitted to watch television for a week so you won't be able to here until that week is up," a mother tells her youngster. Others, however, argue that each household must enforce the punishment within those confines and not expect the other parent to require compliance in his or her house.

My personal feeling is that as rules differ from household to household, so does the punishment. One parent may call upon punishment for infractions that the other would overlook or consider minor. Unless the deed was truly one requiring a strict hand—such as creating bodily harm to self or another, use of alcohol or drugs, and so on, the punishment should be carried out in and restricted to the home in which the behavior was presented. As with most decisions, however, the final action of this matter should really be determined by the two adults most responsible for the child's well-being, the biological parents.

Ten Rules For More Effective Discipline
Children need discipline in their lives so they know what's expected of them. It is vital for them to have this structure for behavior to make them feel secure, loved, and a valuable pan of their family. These ten rules may help you to become more effective in setting up rules for your blended family.

  1. Explain the rules in a way that is age appropriate for each of the children.
  2. Be consistent.
  3. Lower your voice, which forces them to listen.
  4. Never threaten what you can't/won't deliver.
  5. Let the punishment fit the deed.
  6. Don't name call.
  7. Speak to the act, not the actor.
  8. Teach cause and effect.
  9. Let bygones be bygones.
  10. Stay in the present.
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From Blending Families by Elaine Fantle Shimberg. Copyright © 1999. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

If you'd like to buy this book, click here or on the book cover. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.


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