Hot Topic Alert - Step Parent Discipline
Sent Monday, March 26, 2012View as plaintext
Issue #58, March 26, 2012
Welcome to our Monday issue of Single Mom Weekly! In today's issue, we do something a little differently. Today, we address Maggie's question about step-parent discipline. Many of our readers have written in with similar questions so today, we are opening up this topic for discussion.
Also in this issue, learn how we can easily get the skills we need to strengthen and maintain healthy relationships with our children. Check out our "Quick Look" section to find out more. Be sure to stop by our Single Mom Business Center to find great resources to grow your home based business. Have a great Monday!
Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a step dad. ~Author Unknown
Step Parent Spanking - Is It Ever Appropriate?
By April Storm
I am really between a rock and a hard place. I have
been divorced for a year and a half. Six months ago, I
established a new relationship with an old childhood friend. We
have known each other for years so we know we are compatible.
Everything is great in our relationship and we are planning to be
married at the end of this year. The problem is my ex-husband.
My fiancee spends a great deal of time with me and the kids and he is
around, (obviously) many times when the kids misbehave. I have
given him my permission to discipline them according to our household
rules, which includes spanking. My ex-husband has let me know in no
uncertain terms, that if he finds out that my fiancee has touched our
kids, he will bring in the police. The children are 4 and 7
years old and I do not agree with this.
rarely have to resort to spanking, but lately my son has been acting
out. He recently went home and told his father (ex-husband)
that my fiancee (soon to be step-dad) had given him a spanking. Of
course, he forgot to mention to his father why he had been punished.
While I was out, apparently he pushed my fiancee's daughter (5 years
old) off the porch. She wasn't hurt very badly, but she did
have some scrapes and scratches and was very upset.
definitely fits the bill for a spanking in our house and I don't have
any problems with my fiancee disciplining the kids when I am not
around. I know he is not going to abuse them and he is probably
more of a softie than I am when it comes to discipline. I am likewise
allowed to punish his daughter as I see fit but again, this is a very
rare occurrence. What do you think about step-parents spanking and/or
disciplining their step-children? Does my Ex have any lawful
recourse? Any thoughts from your other single mom readers would be
You are absolutely in a difficult situation. The
first thing I'd like to address is the threat of legal action from
your Ex-husband since research is showing that he may have a leg to
stand on. Let me preface this by saying that we here at Single
Mom Weekly are not attorneys and cannot offer legal advice specific
to your situation. Any advice we offer is based on personal
opinion and/or public information that is readily available to the
general public. With that being said, the subject of childhood
discipline in and of itself is a highly controversial subject.
When step parents become involved or really in your case, he is not
yet a step parent, things can get pretty ugly really fast.
Since you didn't mention your state in your email, I will
tell you that Louisiana law is fairly vague. While RS 14:18(4)
allows for what is commonly known as reasonable corporal punishment
(discipline) of a minor by their parents, tutors or teacher, it does
not mention any other authority figure. Depending on your state
of residence and maybe even the state where the incident occurs, (if
your Ex lives in a different state from you) the rules maybe
you are allowed in your state of residence to delegate to your
fiancee, your parental authority to discipline, there still may be
issues if he leaves marks or bruises on your child. There is a
fine line between child abuse and spanking and that line is in a
different place for every parent. For example, while
researching for this article, I came across many parents that felt it
perfectly okay to slap their kids across their faces.
Personally, I do not agree with this for a biological parent not to
even mention a non-biological parent or other authority figure.
As you can see, this gray area could quickly get out of hand.
To be perfectly honest, having your fiance spank your
children is probably not worth all the potential legal hassles from
your Ex. More importantly, inciting more animosity between you
and your ex will be detrimental to the kids that you co-parent. One
easy way to deal with this is to simply sit down with your ex and
decide on different levels of punishment for your children.
This way, the house rules will be understood by kids and parents
alike. When the kids misbehave, there will be no questions,
surprises or fear. They will already know the consequences and
be ready to face them from whomever.
want to emphasize that this conversation should be between you and
your ex-husband, only. While I understand that you are engaged
and expect to be married in the near future, until your finance is
legally your husband and the legal step parent of your children, he
should not get a vote. Even after you are married, there will
need to be a conversation between the three of you so that everyone
is on the same page when it comes to disciplining the children.
After numerous interviews with moms at different stages of
life and relationship statuses, the consensus is that physical
punishment should be reserved for the biological parents. I
think this is the best recourse simply because allowing your fiancee
to spank your kids will only make them fearful of and resentful
toward him. Having to adjust to living away from their father
while becoming accustomed to a new adult authority figure in the home
is a lot for them to deal with. Introducing the anxiety of a
strained relationship between the three most important adults in
their lives will only create more drama and hassle that I'm sure you
don't want or need.
Please keep in mind that there are
many other forms of very effective discipline which use positive
alternatives to spanking. I hope you will take a minute to consider
these other options available. A great deal of research
has been done on this issue and many countries that have outlawed
corporal punishment for childhood discipline show lower rates of
interpersonal violence relative to the U.S. (Durrant, 2000).
While every parent has a right to discipline their child as they see
fit, all of us have the responsibility to keep ourselves educated on
the best methods that yield the best possible outcomes for our
youth. I encourage you, our single moms, and all parents to
read and find out more at The Center for Effective Discipline by logging on to StopHitting.com.