Dear Positive Way: I have been in a committed relationship for almost ten years with having moved in with my partner one year ago. I have two daughters and he also has two daughters. The two older girls recently moved out leaving my youngest daughter residing with us all the time and his youngest visiting on the week-ends. The girls get along very well but my partner has recently caused a major fight with his control issues about my daughter obeying him with her responsibilities of cleaning up after herself. She is 14 and we usually have no problems with her except lately she tends to “forget” or not get around to her chores exactly when he wants her to. I have asked him to come to me first with the problem so I can deal with it instead of him having to have the conflict. I feel that she is a typical 14 year old with a little bit of un-intentional rebellion and my major issue is that I feel it’s MY PLACE to deal with her and not his. I have never interfered with the disciplining of his kids, leaving it to his discretion or going to him with the problem first. What is the best for all concerned? I have suggested family meetings which he does not agree with and his resentment has hurt me and my daughter causing a major conflict between us all. I am at the point of wanting to end the relationship because he does not respect my point of view about disciplining my daughter. What do you suggest. PLEASE HELP!!! Signed Debbie, age 39
Dear Debbi: Thank you for your email. I agree with you. It is your responsibility to deal with your 14 year old daughter and not your mates. Here are some things I would like for you to consider.
1. Have a meeting with your mate. Make sure no one else is around and that there are no interruptions like the TV, radio or phone ringing. Let him know how much you love him and admire him for how he parents his children. Let him know you parent in a different way and that you want to be the sole disciplinarian for your daughter. Ask him to let you know what he wants done and what time frame and then ask him to respect you enough to work this out with your daughter as you see fit.
2. One of the biggest mistakes that stepparents make is to take over the discipline of the non-biological child. They should not play this role at all. Instead he could play the role of more a mentor and role model. Not the role of father or disciplinarian.
3. If you mate does not agree to your request, then I highly recommend counseling. Get some professional help that specializes in stepfamily issues. If he refuses to see a counselor please see on yourself. They can guide you into how to deal with your situation.
Debbi, the odds are against you as far a being a stepfamily. There is a 65% divorce rate for stepfamilies and the number one reason for divorce is disagreements over how to raise the children. Stepfamilies cannot be treated as a biological family. They must have there own rules and guidelines that all parties agree to. Please read the information we have on our web site for stepfamilies and check out some of the links we have to get more information. I wish you all the best.
Please understand you have free will. This advice is given only in the realm of personal growth and self-help. This is not to be considered a substitute for therapy or professional counseling. We wish you well.