When you’re raising or helping to raise a child that is not biologically your own, whether you’re a stepparent in a blended family, have adopted or foster children, or are bringing up your grandchildren, kids may sometimes use this fact against you during the heat of an argument. When a child says “You’re not my mom or dad,” what they’re really trying to do is take the power away from you. Focus on what your role is: caretaker. That means you should inform the child what the rules are in your house. The whole idea here is to avoid a power struggle. What the child is doing is inviting you to a fight. And remember, you don’t have to attend every fight you’re invited to. Avoid the power struggle, and calmly state what your role is and what the rules are. It’s very important that you verbalize no judgments about the biological mother or father. Judgments will only lead to more anger and resentment, which will lead to more power struggles.
Child: “You’re not my mom/dad!”
Translation: I don’t have to listen to you; you have no control over me.
Ineffective Response: “You’ll do what I say anyway!”
About James Lehman, MSW
James Lehman, who dedicated his life to behaviorally troubled youth, created The Total Transformation® Program, The Complete Guide to Consequences™, Getting Through To Your Child™, and Two Parents One Plan™, from a place of professional and personal experience. Having had severe behavioral problems himself as a child, he was inspired to focus on behavioral management professionally. Together with his wife, Janet Lehman, he developed an approach to managing children and teens that challenges them to solve their own problems without hiding behind disrespectful, obnoxious or abusive behavior. Empowering Parents now brings this insightful and impactful program directly to homes around the globe.