What to do when step children don't listen
I'm not going to go at the topic of making step children listen to you from the perspective of a parent, but rather as someone who has been a step child.
I may not know what exactly works, but I sure can tell you what doesn't.
For one, don't try to pretend you are the actual parent (maybe with exceptions if you have mainly filled that role, the birth mother isn't involved, or it addresses the immediate physical safety of the child.) It's just rude, and it's not the same as having your actual mother around at all, as I'm sure you all realize.
Make sure boundaries are established in the beginning and stuck to... Not only between you and the child, but between you and the father in regards to the child. I feel like over stepping your bounds in this situation can cause tension in the whole unit- the child, the father, the birth mother, everyone will be affected.
All it takes is one in-your-face you-do-it-my-way moment to create a ton of rebellion. I know at one point my father's ex-girlfriend tried to play those little power games with me and I just straight up left. My father stood up for me, but I was not about to hang around and be disrespected in my own home because someone decided she could step into a parenting role. I remember she used the words “If you were my child... blahblahblah mean comments.” I think that is the core of it. I was NOT her child, and I did not care how she would handle it. As far as I could see, it was rude, out of bounds, and frankly, a moot point.
I feel like this is especially true if the kids are older... they are used to their ways. You're kind of invading their home, at least it seems. They already have a well-established dynamic with the father and you can't just come in and decide you know better. It won't do anyone any good.
Understand that it isn't your child and your ideal parenting techniques may not mean a thing. I think that is part of getting involved in a relationship with someone with children. I'm sure you ladies wouldn't let a man, even one you loved and decided to accept into your home come in and say... “Well, I think your house should look like this and you should parent this way or I'm going to make it a constant fight.”
Obviously, if you're in that serious of a relationship, there will have to be some give on everyone's part, the new man would obviously need some personalized space and the kids would have to adjust to having another person in the house, but again... boundaries. No woman has a right to walk into a home and fully disrupt the routine of the family unit. The kids come first, in my opinon.
That, I think, by far, is the most important thing. Boundaries, closely followed by respectful, calm communication including LISTENING-both to the man and the children.
(By the way, I was a teen when I was facing these things... I have no idea how it works for small children, but I think most listed above still applies)
What about you?
What is the most important way to make your step kids listen to you without causing too many waves?
I think it's also important to enforce the 1:1 time with parent and child(ren). Not so much a big deal now as we are a ten minute drive away from the kids. When they are with us, I will casually announce that I'm doing a separate activity from them and that now is the time to have their alone time with their Dad. It shows them that I respect their relationship and clearly do not feel threatened by them spending time alone and not being included. I will participate in an activity with them but it will be for a short time so again they have time with Erik.
I also tell the kids that I support whatever their parents agree on, and that if both parents don't agree on something, I won't support one parent over another. This has helped out tremendously with Erik and his ex understanding that I would never try to be a troublemaker when it comes to them co-parenting.