The Foundation for Successful Parenting
The most important gift we can give our children is the gift of unconditional love. At the core of every great parent is the understanding that effective discipline only comes from a place of unconditional love and support. Your child will not respond to your discipline, no matter what philosophy you try, if they do not first feel completely and totally loved.
We want to address stepfamilies at this point. The number one reason that a stepparent fails at discipline with their stepchild is that unconditional love and support has not been developed. You have stepped into the role of a parent, but that does not give you the right to start disciplining.
Your primary goal should be to establish how much you love the child and that you would do anything for him or her. Once you’ve accomplished this, and there is no time-line on how long this process takes, you can move toward becoming a disciplinarian in the new family. If you try to move too quickly into the role of disciplinarian, you will fail and your new family will suffer. Allow the biological parent to handle discipline at first and make sure your supportive of the biological parent’s decisions and discipline strategy.
It is never too late to establish unconditional love. If your children have suffered through poor parenting (and whose children haven’t), no worries, this is not an article about becoming the perfect parent; it’s an article about learning how to love your children in the most effective way. But if you have done serious damage, then you will have to seek your child’s forgiveness.