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New Family Growing Pains -Mother Asks for Advice

Hi Stepdadding,
I need some help. I have been a single mother for the past 3 years. I had a very ugly custody fight with the biological father but with God’s help I was able to custody of my children. I have a 8 year old boy that has ADD/ADHD and a 3 year old little girl. Their biological father has visitations 3 times a week. I just married and I’m having trouble sharing the responsibility of parent. He is in the Air Force so he has a very stern voice a very masculine posture, like a drill sergeant. I catch myself interfering when he is trying to give a lecture or disciplining the children and when he tries to put order around the house. Biological father flakes a lot when it comes to his visitations.Sergeant_Hartman So I feel the need of protecting them. My son is an emotional child. He will cry very easily and bites his nails when he feels nervous. Stepfather was introduced in April of 2013 and became a full time Stepparent as of November of 2013. I don’t want my marriage to end in a divorce. I Know that I need to let him be the man of the house and be the father to my children…..but how do I do that without feeling that I’m neglecting my children and having my children hate me because someone else that is not their biological father is disciplining them?




Like most new families, you’ve got a lot going on. You seem to understand how important it is for your husband to feel comfortable in his home. You also understand it’s important that your kids are comfortable. The answer is in your hands, but it will take strength.

I always advise against Stepdads being responsible for punishing. Bonding with your new kids is vital. It can take years to bond and become a family. Allowing him to be the punisher is the fastest way to destroy his chances of bonding. When the kids are very young it can work out. Your son is eight… just a little too old to accept such a sudden change. If he were a year younger I think it would work. But at eight it’s a roll of the dice.

As I said, you have the solution in front of you. Agree on the rules together, away from the kids. Also agree on what punishments are reasonable for different things. Then stick to them. When the kids mess up he should not be the one who punishes them –you should be. He can back you up. If your son gets a time out from you, that’s okay.

He’ll get over it. If your husband punishes him he won’t get over that as fast. But your husband can back you up. That way he doesn’t have to play “bad cop” he can just enforce the law you lay down. “Sorry, mommy says you’re on time out.” This is the one thing that will give you the best chance to fix the situation.

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