Meanest of Them All?
Those of you familiar with fairy tales will recognize my play on words from Snow White & The Seven Dwarves, at least I hope you will or else that pun just totally fell flat! As a step mom, it’s pretty hard to not be lumped into the wicked stepmother category by your kids, especially when they don’t get their way. However, being “mean” is something that I’m having to face day to day at this point just to get things done.
When it comes to stepchildren, I must say that I hit the jackpot! While my kids are definitely far from perfect, the best thing about them is that they wanted me to come into their lives. Instead of resistance, I was met with open arms, and now three years of living together and nearly two years of marriage to their dad, has us in a really good place. While my first month or so living with them was kind of frightening (especially since I hadn’t lived around children in several years), we three definitely found our own rhythm with each other.
Having read all that, you’re probably wondering why I’m alluding to Snow White’s evil step mom? Am I obsessed with her eyeshadow? Covetous of her magic mirror? No, the answer is that my kids are at that really funny age where discipline has to be the forefront of our relationships. For their privacy, I’ll call them by their first initials. B is my daughter, and she’ll be 12 this fall. M is my son, and he just turned 10. Those of you that have children this age (or survived dealing with children this age) know that there is a constant push and pull to get them to do what I want them to do.
I often find myself taking away toys or restricting their access to electronics (corporal punishment is not an option in my home), and while I know it’s ok to punish them, I still feel a little bit bad when I do it. At their current ages, I expect these two to be at least somewhat self-sufficient, and hate it when I have to remind them to do common, everyday chores they should remember to do. They’re also under constant peer pressure from friends that don’t mind their parents, and in fact, outright disrespect them. I find in this case the only thing I can do is remind them that how so and so treats his mom is not how I expect to be treated.
Nature vs Nurture
The fact that I did not give birth to them does not usually come up in our house. I love them, take care of them, and I’m married to their dad, so basically I am their mom. However, a part of me does feel a bit self-conscious when I have to punish them, and I begin to wonder if they think I have that right. I have friends that rarely if ever take anything away from their kids no matter how badly they’re behaving, and I have to say that I don’t think the kids are well served with this approach. While my kids might pout for a bit when they lose access to their Xbox, I do (for the most part) think they understand right and wrong a little bit better after I take away something they love. How much punishment is enough? What’s ok to take away? How long should a standard punishment last?
Questions, questions, questions! Hopefully this was not too random a blog, but I really wanted some input from anyone with experience. Please leave a comment on how you discipline your kids when they get to this funny age.