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The Blended Family: Rules and Consequences

Blended FamilyThe combinations of the mixed family unit come in many varieties: her kid(s), his kid(s), and their kid(s) together. The ages of the kids and the stages they are going though also create different problems at different times during the relationships. Disciplinary methods create a very large problem. Both partners will have their own style of discipline and the consequences to be paid when your rules are not followed. Even the consequences you come up with might change depending upon your mood or based on how you felt that day or at that particular moment.

When my children were growing up, the local hospital ran a seminar over a ten-week period (one night a week) on parenting children. Many did work. The first one (and I believe, if you are the biological parents or stepparents, this should be done) is to sit down together without the kids, and write out the rules of the house. Both of you must agree what constitutes the rules and what the consequence will be if the rules are broken. This works for a single parent also: you should make the rules clear in your own mind.

The rules and consequences are different for each age. An example for your thirteen-year-old son is that on school nights the rule is that he must be home by 10:00 p.m. The consequence if he were late (by fifteen minutes) would be grounding the next night. When both of you agree what the rules and the consequences are, they should be typed. A meeting with each child to go over, in detail, every rule and consequence should be held. The child must understand each one thoroughly and then sign at the bottom of the list making a contract between all of you. This signing makes the contract appear more binding.

I cannot stress how important it is that both of you present a united front to the children on the rules. If you do not, the child will play both of you against each other, subconsciously or not. And stepparents know that when they enforce rules, kids resent an outsider coming into their space and feel, more acutely, the loss of their parent. Without the contract, the child may challenge the stepfather or stepmother with "you're not my father" or "you're not my mother." The kids will especially fight the rules if they believe the non-parent set the rule. You both must be united in this effort.

Another area which will help eliminate potential problems is the handling of an allowance. The allowance should be in two pieces, a flat amount and an incentive scale allowance. The flat amount is given the same time and day every week with no strings attached. (The allowance should be paid without the child asking for it.) They do not have to do housework or homework to earn this portion. This allowance is given to teach the child the meaning of money. If they spend the allowance the first day, then they learn to wait for next week to have money again. If they want something which costs more than the weekly allowance, they must save some money over time to buy the item wanted. The amount of the allowance should be based on the age of the child; the older the child, the larger the allowance.



The second piece of the allowance is connected to chores. A figure is established for each chore, i.e., wash dishes, take garbage out, mow lawn, wash car(s) etc. Now when they want something, the incentive is not to take just the regular allowance but add to it the incentive allowance by doing extra chores during the week. You want to encourage the extra chores. This method is building the foundation for adulthood. When adults work harder and produce more, they normally get paid more.

SAMPLE RULES:

RULE

CONDITION

CONSEQUENCE

Curfew on school night

10:00 PM (15 Min. late)

Grounded next day

Curfew non-school night

11:00 PM (15 Min. late)

Grounded next day

If sick, miss school

Cannot go out at night

No kids allowed in house when adult not home

Grounded next day

No arguing with yelling or cursing

1st warning

No TV or Phone 1hr

2nd warning

No TV or Phone 2hr

3rd warning

No TV or Phone tonight

No telephone call After 10:00 PM

After one warning

Grounded

Supper time

15 Min Late

Cold dinner

30 " "

No TV or Phone 1hr

1Hr. "

No TV or Phone 2 hr

2Hr. "

Grounded next day

Friends over

School night 10:00 PM

No friends over for week

Non-school night 11:00 PM

" " " " "

More: Blended Families: When It's TIme to Seek Professional Help

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