Even in a Christian family, step parenting is a mixed bag. The proverbial substance most commonly hits the proverbial convenience when it comes to enforcing discipline or setting boundaries with a child that is not your own. This will be especially difficult if the rules you are enforcing are not your own and instead you are actually enforcing rules and limitations imposed by your spouse and her/his ex-spouse.
There is a very real danger that you will get caught in the middle, especially if the ex-spouse is not a Christian or has walked away from the faith. On the one hand you fear to displease your spouse while on the other hand you worry about rocking the boat with the ex-spouse which in turn might cause ugly confrontations. Another consideration is the resentment the child may feel toward you and the specter of the sullen, unhappy child in your care may be enough to have you make compromises that sooner rather than later turn into Faustian bargains.
Prior to saying unequivocally "no" to your stepchild, you need to have four things in place:
1. You need a clear and concise understanding what the rules and regulations are that you must enforce, especially if you did not make them. Humble yourself and ask the ex-spouse exactly what it is you are supposed to do. Proverbs 12:1a teaches that a person who loves discipline also loves knowledge. By inference, you cannot have one without the other.
2. You must be united with your spouse in her/his parenting of the child. Even if you disagree, in front of your stepchild you must present a united front. Proverbs 11:29a explains that bringing trouble to your family is a useless undertaking. Take this Scripture to heart and you will have peace in your home.
3. Cultivate the ability to be the calm one in the room, even if your stepchild pushes each and every button. Proverbs 12:18 admonishes that reckless words will do great harm while wisely chosen words are going to bring healing to the relationship.
4. Be willing to be unpopular. Sure, you want your stepchild to love you and sing your praises, but in a pinch you need to have the ability to put the needs of your ego aside and do the right thing for its own sake. Proverbs 18:24a warns that a mindset that refuses to rock the boat and instead sinks to people pleasing will lead to ruin.
About Sylvia Cochran
Sylvia Cochran - Christian Parenting Corner and Common Sense Parenting and Parenting By the Book Christian Parenting Book Reviews
Sylvia is a seasoned writer, born and raised in Germany. Having been exposed to a variety of religions and traditions due to travel and study, Sylvia has been a student of the Bible for more than ten years, and has for the last four years taught in small groups about Biblical principles, practical Christianity, Christian parenting, as well as the spiritual use of money. Sylvia also provides Free Online Courses at Suite 101. Sylvia's goal is to provide help and encouragement to raise the next generation of Christ-followers.
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