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How much input should a stepparent have in a child’s life?
Q: My daughter is a single parent of a 3½-year-old little girl and is engaged to an extraordinary young man. He absolutely adores my granddaughter, and she loves him, too. He wants to be a hands-on stepparent but doesn’t want to come on too strong during this getting-to-know-you time before the wedding. How much input should he have about discipline, daily routines, planning activities, etc.? They’re together almost every day. Incidentally, my daughter and granddaughter live with me, so I have helped take care of my granddaughter all her life.
A: When children are older, I advise stepfathers to go slow with discipline. For the first year he should defer to his wife and then slowly ease into the father’s role. With a child who’s only 3, however, the situation is different. At this age a parent manages more than disciplines, so it should be fairly easy for your daughter’s future husband to start doing that right now. However, since your daughter has been raising her child as a single parent, she’s used to being the only parent and may take exception to her husband’s approach to childrearing. That’s why I recommend that she and her future husband discuss rules, guidelines, expectations and discipline strategies ahead of time.