Nov 28, 2017
Brian Mayer discusses developing a contract with stepchildren to
help motivate desired behaviors. He talks from his own
experience with his wife and daughter in making the contract
work. Contracts can dramatically reduce tension,
stress, and anxiety for everyone involved. We hope you enjoy
today’s message. For more information and additional
resources please visit our website at http://www.theremarriedlife.com
- We recently experienced the end of daylight savings time. This
means we set our clocks back one hour. So if you forgot, that
means you showed up early to church that Sunday. This
happened once for me and as a side note was probably a good thing
because it happened as I was going through my divorce. I came
to church early, was able to talk with someone I barely knew about
my situation and also got to quietly sit and reflect in the
The daylight savings debate is always an interesting one.
I am in favor of continuing it without going back. This would
eliminate the need to change the time twice a year and also I like
more daylight at the end of the day.
Turning the clock reminds me about a time when we took a step
back in our own family.
- Family background:
- My wife Heather and I married after having gone through our own
divorces. I brought a daughter into the marriage from my previous
marriage while Heather did not have children –but boy did she bring
animals. She had 2 cats and 1 dog, although one of the cats
passed just before we got married. My daughter was about 8
when we got married. While she was generally a good student,
we had spells where her grades were not up to par.
- My daughter was mostly a rule follower like I was growing up.
However, if she and I felt an adult was not watching or paying
attention she and I both could stray from what was expected
especially when it comes to school work.
- When online grading systems were developed, we thought this
problem was solved. Not so. There were flaws with this
system. Teachers would input all the assignments in the
beginning of the year, but if they did not input a grade it would
show as a 0. We had many discussions (admittedly angered
discussions) about why she was getting Zeroes not knowing this
sometimes was not her fault. Now to be fair to us their were
definitely times that my daughter was to blame as well.
- Caused an immense amount of stress and anxiety as we would
check everyday waiting for things to update. The cycle would
continue only get worse and feelings would get worse until
communication seemed to break down in the family. Everyone
felt like they were caught in the middle.
- We had to do something different.
- My wife and I are marriage mentors where we volunteer our time
and remember learning that sometimes things need to be written
down. Out of this we decided to draft a contract.
- The contract would serve many beneficial purposes:
- The contract would now become the bad guy and not any one of
- No more emotional daily discussion about the issue.
Expectations were laid out and it was decided that we would allow
our daughter the freedom to work without fear of a daily check
- It also gave us as parents the freedom not to have the
responsibility to check in. It released me from so much
- It would serve as a motivating factor to avoid a negative
consequence but to also reward an especially good consequence.
- Recommend listening to The Remarried Life podcast episode #12 –
Four Parenting Styles to learn more about each other.
- The contract set-up
- First there were several discusses by Heather and I before the
draft to simply talk about the idea.
- Then she and I began to draft it out. The goal was to develop a
unity between the two of us before presenting this to our
daughter. This process was so helpful, because it removed a
great deal of the emotion that swirled around our differences in
- The components of the contract included:
- The parties involved: Parents and Child
- The expectations – both for us and the child
- The timeframe for the expectations to be met
- The punishment for not meeting the expectations
- The reward for when the expectations were signicantly exceeded
(if the expectations were simply met then nothing happened).
- Put it on the fridge as a daily reminder to all. But again no
need to interact on the subject matter, other than every once in
awhile to ask my daughter if she needed help with anything.
- The outcome: She met the expectations so we considered the
contract experiment a success.
- Final Thoughts
- We tried the contract experiment only after much exasperation
for all of us. My recommendation is to not let things get to the
point we did before trying it.
- Once the contract goes into place, learn to abide by your part.
As a parent the tendancy might be to hover and become
anxious. Let the contract do the work as the motivator.
- Celebrate when it works! If it does not work, continue to
refine the process. Maybe the bar needs to be lowered
Thanks For Listening!
- With so many things that take time in our lives, I more
grateful than you know that you took time to listen to this podcast
- If you liked this episode and believe that it would be
beneficial to a friend, family member, or colleague, please share
it using the social media buttons on this page.
- It would be extremely helpful, it you would consider leaving a
rating and review on Apple devices at iTunes
or on Android devices at Google
Play as it will help the podcast reach others who
need help in rebuilding life and relationships
Remarried Life Facebook Group is a community of people
just like you who get and give support. Please join today!