I am so blessed to be a step-mommy! I have known my beautiful step-daughter, Patsy, since she was a baby. Over the years we have grown closer and now that she is almost seven I feel like I'm just getting the hang of this stuff. Being step-mommy to a child that does not live with you can create a lot of awkward and sometimes frustrating moments when it comes to the discipline. An awesomely exciting day at the park can quickly evolve into a nightmare when she throws a temper tantrum because someone else got on "her swing". The mother side of me always wants to immediately correct the misconduct by kneeling down, looking her in the eyes and with my firmest voice say, "This spoiled behavior in unacceptable and you WILL STOP CRYING this second or you won't see the playground for a month!" However I have learned thru trial and error that you have to be a lot more creative when it comes to disciplining a step-child. For instance, I am a real stickler when it comes to having healthy meals and snacks, so when I serve her a yummy plate of whole wheat macaroni and cheese with salmon and broccoli, I expect it to be devoured! When I was a child we would've killed to have a meal like this- healthy and tasty. When Patsy turned her nose up at my meticulously cooked dish and pushed the food around her plate like it was slop I was offended and demanded she it- I didn't yell, I just said what my parents had always said to me when I was being picky: "You are not getting up from this table until you finish your food." Well, she did not even eat one forkful. Instead she cried and told her mother that "Kay was being mean to me". When my husband relayed the message I was heartbroken- I had never wanted to hurt her feelings. I just wanted her to build healthy eating habits because I love and care for her well-being.
It wasn't until I had my own child that I started to assess how hard the situation must be for her- being shuttled from two different households with different religions, rules, and expectations. She doesn't need me to be her mom- she already has one of those- she needs me to be her mentor and her friend. So I have decided the best way to bring the peace is to gain her trust and respect, then hope that she will behave out of pure guilt, because she knows I am looking out for her best intrest. For the times I can't play the guilt game, I have learned to use creative language when she needs behavior correction like the time she didn't want to leave the playground: "Patsy, you are a big girl now and you have to show the baby how to be a big girl by going home when it is time. Only babies cry when they don't get what they want." And now I have gotten her so use to compromising when it comes to eating, She automatically says, "Okay, how many spoonfulls of brocolli do I have to eat?" Hey, I'll take what I can get! And instead of chastising bad behavior, I just ignore it, but then I praise the good behavior, and ALL children want to be praised.