A child is a very forgiving, innocent and believing individual. Most parents find ways to bring them up constructively mostly by the shadowed upbringing of their elders. Most young parents are all going to be themselves and not like their parents, because their parents, no matter what, did not do it right. When families are faced with divorce, or separation, they lose sight and forget the bigger issues that are not immediately in front of their noses. What happens when a step-parent or complete stranger comes into their home, or their child’s new home and begins administering discipline?
First of all, when standing back and looking at the new demographic in their family, there are two options. They have the option to be selfish and hard headed and believe that they will not allow this new person to influence their child’s upbringing, this comes from the common thought, “I’ve gotten them this far right, why should I allow someone else to interfere”? The first question to ask is, what is it worth to put up with a stranger disciplining the child? Is it acceptable for them to strike the child? Will the non-custodial parent want the new parent to support manners such as not talking back to their elders, or their mother? Is the new parent a firm supporter in time-outs? It is a personal challenge and yet one that can be overwhelming if the steps are not taken to overcome them.
The current parent who is not part of the living situation should meet the new person in the child’s life. The establishment of a relationship is important both for the non-custodial parent, and for the step parent. The step-parent is just as nervous as the estranged spouse. This is not an easy situation to experience and could escalate if the proper steps are not procured and followed from the start. A basic introduction and discussion of the kids is imperative. The conversation should not stray from that. This will give the current parent time to become comfortable and will further support the likeness between the two. Keeping the conversation on the kids and what plans for the kids are in place is key, while not being boastful or full of pride, this keeps the conversation mellow and under control. This conversation and constant communication will come in handy in future situations where a parent may need to decipher between the truth and manipulation. Manipulation can happen in situations where there is increased stress between parents trying to make the child comfortable, a child can turn to “play one off the other” and cause even more problems if not addressed early in the new relationships.
By maintaining constant support of the new parent, even though there may reside a dislike shows the children that their is respect and trust with the level of discipline being administered in both homes. Most courts in the United States do not always place the children with the right adult when a relationship fails. Most laws and judicial systems are centered around a bias in favor of the female side of a relationship and it can cause an otherwise capable adult to lose their rights as custodian to a parent with whom it may not be in the best interest of the children to live. There are times when a father or mother may not get custody and the other parent may not be as responsible as they let on to the court. In some cases, the new step-parent is made responsible for the children while the custodial parent continues their reckless ways all while living under the protection of the court. This can all cause frustration and impatience, and should not be fed into. Being respectful of the new parents rules and restrictions can show the court and the children that there is control and respect.
In a situation where there is possible manipulation, a non-custodial parent should refrain from being confrontational. When a child comes home for a visit and proclaims, “he spanked me,” or “my new step-mom made me stand in the corner,” the knee jerk reaction is, “who the hell does this person think they are?” Without education, patience or sense of self, the average person could make a phone call and start accusing the other parent of being lazy, or non-observant. This of course leads to harassment, and distrust and in a custodial situation like that, it could be construed as an overreaction on the non-custodial parents behalf. It is possible, that the child has stretched the truth, and without knowing the new step-parent or using effective communication, there now resides an issue where the other side looks at the non-custodial parent like an enemy causing possible legal issues and discomfort in an already unstable situation. Gathering all information before making conclusions is good one. Getting in touch with the other adult in the party and discussing the issue at hand politely and without making accusations will benefit the relationship between non-custodial parents and new additions to their child’s life overall. have with them and the kids, and will show more over to your estranged spouse that you are not out of control.
Not all discipline is good. Sometimes action is required. Immediately. Kids can come home with belt marks, or bruises that are left unexplained. By watching for hesitance in the child’s explanation, or their silence when being asked a direct question it can be easy to deduce their is foul play involved This could be a sign of abuse. Showing restraint and not reacting immediately or loudly when receiving or finding any evidence of abuse, helps keep the situation calm for a parent and their child, this helps ensure a baseline of trust in an already painful, scary situation. They have already had a hard enough time as it is.
There is a lot that can be done to help influence a situation where a parent feels powerless against someone disciplining their child. A lot of courts will grant a parent leeway in asking that an estranged spouse be the only one that disciplines the children, however, a brutal truth to keep in mind, there is nothing, a parent can do to keep a stranger from disciplining their child when they are not directly involved in one hundred percent of the children’s lives. A child can be disciplined at school, or work by people that are not known to the parents. It is human instinct to educate those who are uneducated. It can be done in a good way or bad way; however, the consequences of these actions are all determined in how people react to these situations.
Abuse and discipline are two separate ideals and both should be handled with extreme care as well as the other. Neither are small issues. By remaining patient, respectful and calm the situation can be handled in a respectful and courteous manner in which all parties involved can come away with a positive outlook. A parent who exercises restraint and peace with the step-parents can also expect the same with their children who have already had a hard enough time as it is. Over-reaction is not necessary or appropriate and can lead to nothing but negative consequences with no solution to the problem at hand.