I hear you say that the biological parent does the discipline. What if both sides are in the home and fighting (my kids and the stepkids)? Who does the discipline? What discipline do we give my child who does not live with us?
Yes – the bio-parent does the disciplining. You take yours aside and your spouse takes theirs. Hopefully you’ve established “house rules” so the children know what’s expected. If not, it’s past time to do so. At the same time, the consequences of breaking the house rules should be established. That gives children a choice to enjoy the benefits, or receive the consequences. That eliminates the urge to get angry when they disobey and either inflict a consequence on the spur of the moment or….be rendered incapable of coming up with something.
A child coming in and out of the home still needs structure. It can be difficult to administer discipline if the parent is holding on to guilt from the divorce, remarriage and custody arrangements that don’t allow for significant time with the child. Children want to know what’s expected of them and are much more secure when the parent creates appropriate boundaries and isn’t fearful of implementing them.
Don’t worry about “fair” or “equal” consequences. The punishment should fit the crime. Many times we’ve found when children are asked what they think the consequence should be, they come up with tougher stuff than the parents. You might try it some time. Do this when the “house rules” discussion takes place.