How I Learned To Discipline My Stepson


How I transitioned from being fun to being in charge of discipline. And how I kept my sanity.

I am a stepmom. It's only been a short time and I'm still getting used to it. It's not easy.

I didn't have children of my own when my husband and I got married, so my first experience parenting has been with his 7-year-old son. Discipline is hard for a parent to enforce, at least for one who doesn't look to Mommie Dearest for inspiration, but how do you go about it when the child isn't your own? When you haven't been the one with them since birth, the one they have to love no matter what, because genetics told them so?

When my stepson came into my life, he was 5 years old and very much used to his arrangement of mother and father and grandparents and uncles and cousins. He took to me quickly and I to him and, in the beginning, it was literally all fun and games. His dad would come to visit and bring him along. The boy and I would spend time together having fun, going to the park, watching movies, taking silly pictures. It was a blast. We were smitten with one another. I felt like every awesome kids' character ever, come to life: I was fun incarnate.

Then he and his dad moved in with me. I was in no way prepared for the changes that were about to take place. I mean, I knew I would have to take on a motherly role, but I didn't realize what that really meant. Battling over a dirty room... enforcing reasonable bedtimes... insisting that healthy meals be eaten before dessert be doled out... it was all new to me. But there I was, ranting about "this mess of a room, and do I get paid to pick up dirty socks?" and "You can just stop that tantrum right there, mister, it's not going to get me to turn that television back on." When It Comes To Parenting, Does One Size Fit All?