Updated: Dec 10, 2019
break the fairness crisis, not your bank account!
To be completely open and honest, I do not remember where we got this from, but I do know it works! So whomever started this, THANK YOU!
The sun was setting quickly outside the small restaurant where Tammy and I sat waiting to speak with a new stepfamily that had requested help. It was not long before the doors parted and in walked a young couple, their heads down and their expressions showing all the familiar signs of blended family stress. We had barely made it through introductions when it came bursting out. “Her son is completely out of control!” he said, not even acknowledging his wife with a glance. His wife returned fire, “Well if he would correct my child the way he lovingly corrects his…” It was the old stepfamily discipline monster, rearing its all too familiar head and we had just what it takes to put him back in his place. Index cards!
Stepfamily discipline varies greatly from its biological counterpart. The constant questioning of the motives for and the fairness of the discipline due to a complete lack of any shared biological connection and trauma suffered from previous relationships can unravel even the tightest wound marriage in an instant. Constant, open communication and proactive planning are vitally important in order to successfully defeat the discipline monster. Let me share a very practical plan to achieving both through a simple pack of 4 by 6 index cards.
1. Buy a pack of 4 by 6 index cards. Goes without saying right. This is where the $1 comes in!
2. Write one current or future discipline issue on the front of each card. One issue per card, and each spouse works on their own children’s issues. Being proactive also means thinking of future discipline issues such as those related to driving or dating. Take your time and put some serious thought and prayer into this step.
3. Have a date night! Take three cards from your deck, one easy, one medium and one hard issue. Order a nice dinner and begin. Pull out an easy card and read the issue written on the front. Allow the non-biological parent to respond first with their proposed response and consequence. Negotiate until you both reach an agreed upon solution. If you get stuck on a particular card, put it aside and move on to another issue. This will take some time, but you will be negotiating before the emotions of the event catch you off-guard and you react instead of responding.
4. Write your agreed to response and consequence on the back. Flip your card over and write the agreed to response and consequence on the back. Go on to the next card until they are all finished. Bind the cards together with a ring binder and keep them in a handy place for quick reference.
So the next time the discipline monster rears his ugly head in your stepfamily simply reach for your index cards and hit him with your agreed to response and consequence. This will not only keep you and your spouse in agreement, but also keep you consistent and the stepfamily discipline monster on the ropes!