When your new love comes as a package deal, with a kid or kids from a previous relationship, how active should you be when the need for discipline arises? It can be a challenge to watch and listen as her children make bad choices or openly defy your girlfriend. What should you consider before you have a role in disciplining her kids?
Get The Lay Of The Land
Before you get remotely close to the possibility of redirecting her kids take a long view and acquaint yourself with how she manages their behavior. She, and someone else (more on that person in a minute), chose to conceive and birth this child or children. Those two parents are entrusted with all decisions on how to deal with the kids’ mistakes, tantrums, or questionable acts.
Since the other party is not on the premises watch and learn as you observe how your girlfriend oversees the children’s behavior. Give it time to evolve and realize that your presence may be a trigger until the kids get used to you. As hard as it may be to admit, if you cannot keep your thoughts and actions regarding their discipline to yourself perhaps this is not a good match for you — or for her and her kids.
Not Your Right Nor Your Responsibility
Most experts would advise you the discipline of your new girlfriend’s children is her business, period. She is legally and morally responsible for their well-being, and you are simply a bystander. Depending on the status of the breakup or divorce from their father how you choose to interact with her kids may create a serious issue if their other parent hears you are overly involved. Particularly in the early days, weeks and months of a new relationship know that the kids may bring some tales about you back to their other parent. Do what you can to ensure those stories are benign, or your ladylove may have little time for you as she responds to complaints or even a legal motion from the other parent.
Handle Issues Through Her
If the kids do not settle in after you become more of a fixture in their lives still resist any inclination to step in to do the discipline. When the children are not present take the time to discuss your concerns with your girlfriend. Let her know that you simply want the time with her kids to go more smoothly and you want to problem solve together. Their mom still needs to enforce any agreements you come to about the kids’ naughty or disrespectful behavior, not you.
They Are Kids — Remember?
Realize that kids are young people, just learning about the world and how to relate to others. If you have no children of your own your expectations may be too high. They need their mom and will take up large amounts of her time, even when you are on the scene. Small kids are a challenge to take out to eat and can have epic meltdowns even when they are treated to outings and events they should enjoy. Let their mother guide them through these difficulties. Plan time alone with your girlfriend, perhaps when during the parenting time of her ex, when you want to enjoy a quiet dinner or a more adult occasion.
As your relationship develops you will still never have the authority to discipline her kids. However, you may become more relaxed about letting her do it. Keep the communication open and continuing with their mom and know that you can have a subtle positive effect on