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Stepfather’s Disengaged Parenting Revisited

When I wrote about the various parenting styles, I stated how the disengaged parenting style is considered the most damaging parenting style to children.  However, the experts state stepfathers as compared to our biological counterparts typically adopt a disengaged parenting style. 

The reasons why we choose to be uninvolved may differ from family to family from they’re not my kids to their mother protecting her children from your parenting style.  Does it make sense to disengage under certain circumstances?

What if as a stepfather you find yourself in a situation where your stepchildren won’t respect you?  Or if your wife will not support you when it comes to her children?  Then for your own emotional, mental and financial safety I feel it’s appropriate to disengage. 

WHAT IS DISENGAGING?

  • A way of protecting yourself and your biological children from being taken advantage of by the people living in your house.
  • Stopping your parenting role and responsibilities (transportation, game attendance, financial support, etc…) to your stepchildren.
  • No longer doing anything that would allow your stepchildren to treat you with disrespect.
  • Ends being taken for granted and other negative things resulting from being a stepparent.

MORAL AUTHORITY

Children develop bonds with their biological parents which permit the parents to maintain the “moral authority” to deal with their kids.  Most of our wives get divorced & marry us, expecting everything to function the same way it did in the first marriage. 

Our challenge is as stepfather’s we don’t have the bonding with her children needed to give us the “moral authority” to parent our stepchildren.  The only way we can get “moral authority” is through our wives and they must give it to us by expecting and demanding her children respond to us with obedience and respect or at least respectful behavior.

SUPPORTIVE WIFE

A supportive wife will give us the authority to parent her children. To be supportive our wives must be willing to discipline her children every single time they speak disrespectfully to us, ignore us, or disobey us, otherwise she is giving her children permission to continue and even escalate their behavior. 

Because our wives have NEVER had to be fathers, they don’t know what we’re talking about when we try to get their help. They are still being the same parents they were when they were married to their exes, things worked out okay there, so they assume the problem must be US!

DISENGAGING – THE REALITIES

  1. Your stepchildren are not your children.
  2. You are not responsible for overcoming their previous “raising.”
  3. You are not responsible for what kind of people they are.
  4. You are not responsible for what kind of people they become.
  5. You are not obligated to become an abused member of the household just because you married their mom.
  6. You are not responsible for raising your stepchildren.
  7. All the responsibility belongs to your wife.
  8. Your wife is not a father.
  9. Your wife is not going to raise her children the way you want her to.
  10. Your stepchildren are not going to turn out the way they would if your wife supported you.
  11. What all this means is this: You must stop parenting your stepchildren. You must stop telling them what is expected of them. You must stop disciplining them. You must turn over all responsibility for them to your wife. You must allow wife to make whatever mistakes she makes.

HOW IS DISENGAGING DONE?

  • Informing and explaining to your wife and stepchildren of your plan to disengage.
  • Goal to end anger and frustration between you and your stepchildren.
  • No longer assume parenting responsibilities, if they need anything they must ask their Mom.
  • Specifically, identify the responsibilities you’ll be ending, for example, payment of car insurance, payment of cell phone, buying gifts, use of your car, homework help, etc.
  • Your stepchildren may end up missing out on some good things because of your disengaging, but it was a choice they made when they decided to make your life miserable. Do not give them the opportunity to treat you disrespectfully.
  • This does not mean you have no rights.  You must choose your battles, and to disengage, your battles should be about those things that DIRECTLY affect you and your children.

GOAL OF DISENGAGING

Your goal is not to straighten out your stepchildren’s deficiencies.  It’s to get your wife to parent her children and to reduce your burdens.  If the children are going to be unappreciative, let them be unappreciative of their mom.

The REAL problem is not between you and your stepchildren – it’s between you and your wife.  The children are HER responsibility and if she wants good things for them she will parent them.  If she’s neglectful or doesn’t have the courage to parent because of guilt then why should you try to make a difference if you do not have her support.

LAST THOUGHTS

Making the choice to disengage as a stepfather can be very difficult. It may seem like you are giving up on your stepchild, but if the child is not going to give you the respect you deserve as a parent and is going to continue to manipulate and disrupt your family it may be the only choice available. 

Disengaging, gives you a chance to save your sanity and allows you to focus on the rest of your family.  Sometimes you have to choose what is best for the family as a whole and not just one child and all you can hope is it will make a positive impact on the child and they will realize the difference between right and wrong.

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