From Pam Rohr, author of Blended but not Broken – Hope and Encouragement for Blended Families:
What should you do when you and your spouse have different parenting styles, resulting in different rules and unfair treatment of your children? What happens when your spouse has an abundance of patience and tolerance for their kids, but has zero tolerance for your child?
Your child sees the blatant discrimination, and it causes their feelings to be hurt. They feel unloved and unjustly treated. It’s enough to break a parent’s heart.
We know that children thrive in an environment of consistency, but sometimes this is not the case. And it doesn’t end at the kids. It can also cause distrust between spouses as well.
So, what can you do if your spouse just doesn’t see the unfairness or is unwilling to change? Do you compromise your position? Do you treat his kids unjustly? Do you lower your standards for your own kids to make up for the lack of tolerance in your spouse?
I would say NO to all three questions.
This brings us back to the principle that if you and your spouse just cannot get on the same page regarding discipline, then you should each discipline your own kids and not your stepchildren.
Children who grow up in an atmosphere where the rules and expectations set for them are clear, and have firm, fair, and consistent boundaries usually cope better than kids who do not. Consistently disciplining your child will teach them the skills they will need for life. So, if one parent is overly permissive with their child, but overly impatient with yours, you’ll need to come to an agreement that you will raise yours and he will raise his.
Now, the kids who are required to abide by the rules could have a real problem with this, since they have to obey your rules but their stepsiblings do not. This is a really sticky situation. But if your spouse is unwilling to change, do you end up with a divorce at the end of it all? Well, some have… and some have made it work. You do not want to compromise how you feel it best to parent your child; and yet you do not want your kids to feel that they have standards the others don’t have to live by.
Your spouse may be a rejecting parent to your child and a permissive parent to their own – so you have to do what’s best for your child.
The key is to love them unconditionally while maintaining a standard in your home. Soon you’ll see a difference in the kids – both yours and your stepchildren.
So, if you feel that your spouse compromises their parenting standards, it doesn’t mean that you have to weaken your own. Otherwise, your biological kids are left with no one to parent them in a fair and balanced manner.
Reassure your children of your love and commitment to them. Explain your reasons behind your rules and the consequences you set. If they understand the purpose of the boundaries and feel that you are being reasonable, they are more likely to comply.
Hang on and do what’s right by your kids, especially in the eyes of the Lord and He will reward you.
Pray and believe that God is big enough to work a miracle in your home. And never belittle your spouse in front of your children regarding their different parenting style. You don’t want the kids to lose respect for them on account of what you say.
Hebrews 12:11 says –
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
If you have this situation going on in your home, and you’d like to receive further coaching, contact me at www.nouveaulifecoaching.com.
And, for more encouraging and engaging podcasts and videos, visit the E-Squared Media Network at www.e2medianetwork.com