Common Problems with Blended Families

The Three Biggest Parenting Mistakes in Blended Families Divorce and remarriage are significant life events, and when those changes also involve kids, the stakes multiply for everyone. Many couples, of course, create happy blended families with lasting bonds, while others face challenges their marriage cannot withstand. What’s the difference? Learn about the three most common and biggest mistakes parents make when blending their new families, and what it takes to avoid them. Mistake #1: Allowing step-parents to discipline their step-kids Overstepping disciplinary boundaries is, by far, one of the most common problems with blended families that I see. In some cases, parents want the blended family to function just as the original family did. In others, biological parents feel overwhelmed by the demands of parenting and want a partner to share the responsibility. Some others worry that if a parent does not discipline a child, the child will not respect them. But here’s the bottom line: Disciplinary decisions are the sole responsibility of the child’s biological parents. Step-parents have no disciplinary role. Here’s why: By the time we start disciplining our biological kids, we’ve had years to develop a relationship with them. Over the years, that closeness helps balance the inevitable distancing that follows discipline. In other words, a healthy relationship helps cushion the blow of discipline. When a step-parent disciplines a step-child without that relationship cushion, they are bound to alienate that child forever. The parent-child relationship required for healthy and effective discipline takes years to develop and cannot be rushed. Mistake #2: “Pushing” relationships It’s a natural instinct to try and force the new family members to like each other. A divorced mother wants her kids to like her new husband. A divorced dad wants his kids to like their new step-siblings. A new step-father wants his wife’s kids to like him. However, parents must remember they cannot force their kids to like anyone, including a step-parent, step-sibling, or an ex-spouse. After all, this change in family circumstance was not the child’s choice. Instead of pushing relationships, maintain as many of the old family routines as possible while everyone learns to adjust. Emphasize respect and allow relationships to grow at their own speed. Blending new families can be a long process. It is filled with trial and error. The more parents can maintain stability for their kids, the better it is for everyone to adjust in both the …

Age Appropriate Discipline for Children

Age Appropriate Discipline Techniques   The most common parenting mistake I see comes from parents who fail to change their discipline tactics as their children get older. I am supplying you with a practical guide, a break down of how parenting must evolve as your children do. Lets first understand that discipline should always be in line with the child’s developmental stage, intelligence, and maturity level. Discipline is often hard, and unless it’s developmentally appropriate, it will also be ineffective.   Birth until Two Primary developmental characteristic: No sense of object permanence (the ability to trust that a person or object will not disappear once they are out of sight). Most effective discipline technique: Distraction Distraction is the most common form of discipline for very young children because they do not develop object permanence, until about the age of two. That’s why removing something from the child’s grasp or attention and replacing it with something more appropriate is the best form of correction during this phase.   Toddler, Preschool, and Early Elementary Primary developmental characteristic: Vulnerable to stimulation overload Most effective discipline techniques: Firm but soothing redirection During this phase, parents must understand that very young children act out due to stimulation overload, and not because of willingness, spitefulness, or meanness. The emotional load that a preschooler feels about something, as small as losing a toy can be equivalent to an adult coming home to discover their beloved pet has died. If this happened to you, you might fall to your knees and cry. No one would scold you for your behavior because they’d know that you were experiencing an emotional flood. When toddlers and preschoolers do the same, parents need to see that as an emotional surge, rather than willful malice or naughtiness. Time Outs When a very young child acts out, redirect their behavior calmy. Try to identify the source of overstimulating and eliminate it as best as possible. For example, many parents find that timeouts are useful at this age because it removes the child from the overstimulating event or environment. However, timeouts should be brief (about one minute per year of age), and the parent should remain in the child’s sight or within earshot. Even after the child develops object permanence, it can be traumatic for them if their parent disappears during an already upsetting event. Remaining near your child during a timeout also makes it easier …

Letting Go of Adult Children

Letting Go of Adult Children: How to Get to the Other Side of the Grief   Letting go of adult children can be extremely challenging. Some time ago, I spoke with a mother who was having a terrible time with her adult daughter. Her daughter was in her early twenties, living at home. The tension between the parents and child was becoming too much to bear. It was straining to the point of almost breaking what had long been a beautiful relationship.   She fought with her daughter regularly, nagging at her for not getting out of bed until noon and criticizing her for not being more helpful around the house. In essence, she stayed in her role as a parent to a young child while expecting her daughter to act more maturely.   When talking about her struggles, I used a phrase I often use with those who have lost a loved one. I spoke of “getting to the other side of the grief.” Rather than staying stuck on this side of grief, I talked about how rewarding one’s relationship with their adult child can be. To get there, however, parents have to walk through letting go of adult children, letting their kids make their own mistakes and find their paths. My patients breakthrough Today, my patient’s daughter no longer lives at home. She gave her daughter a deadline by which she had to move out and stuck to it. She grieved the entire time; watching her daughter move on was awfully painful. Now, however, she says she’s catching more and more glimpses of her daughter as an adult. They can discuss future career options and have even begun to collaborate on ideas for decorating her apartment.   Of course, allowing her daughter to grow up wasn’t a smooth transition. As my patient put it, letting go was “horrendously painful.” But she recognizes now that without forcing herself to walk through that pain, to “get to the other side of the grief,” they’d still be where they were, arguing and combative and deeply unhappy about their relationship.   Nowadays, many more children live with their parents into adulthood   It’s not an unfamiliar story. Many more children live with their parents into adulthood today than they did even twenty years ago. For many, the decision is primarily financial, and with proper respect for healthy boundaries, such arrangements can work …

How to Avoid Raising a Narcissist or Sociopath

Let’s talk about narcissism and sociopaths. Specifically, how to avoid raising a narcissist or sociopath. I thought I’d combine the two and help teach you how to avoid raising a narcissist or sociopath. How to avoid raising a narcissist or sociopath You don’t want to deal with narcissists or sociopaths anywhere; you certainly don’t want your child to have that kind of problem. Narcissism and sociopathy are descriptive titles of personality disorders. The larger group is personality disorders. Personality disorders are defined as not monsters and horrible people that you hear in the media, but we define personality problem as somebody who has difficulty with intimate relationships. I know it makes no sense. Personality disorder does not mean you have a bad personality; in fact, sociopaths often have lovely personalities; it’s part of their trick, part of the manipulation. The definition means you have not just the typical trouble with intimate relationships that we all have but the extreme problems. Such as, you can’t maintain long-standing intimate relationships. What goes into maintaining long-standing intimate relationships? That way, you can maintain long-term relationships, and you don’t have a personality disorder and therefore are not by definition a narcissist or a sociopath. How to how to raise a child who does not have a personality disorder, means you have to understand what goes behind that. Understanding what the foundation is of maintaining intimate relationships. The key here is to have a good sense in capabilities to give and take, you can give and take. Another way of putting that is to have a good capacity to control yourself and to put up boundaries with the other person. Notice, I didn’t say control yourself and control others. A big problem parents have is controlling themselves and putting up boundaries, which helps a child control themselves. Also, the capacity to change your parenting style as the child grows up. So many parents are using the same techniques for punishment and discipline when the child’s a teenager as when the child was three. Makes no sense, right? But it happens all the time. Three areas to focus on: Controlling yourself Putting up a boundary with a child Changing your parenting techniques Controlling yourself (taking care of yourself). There are lots of things that children do that they need to do, to have healthy self-esteem, to feel autonomous, to feel grown-up, to feel separate from their …

Parenting Mistakes you Can Let Yourself Off The Hook

Let’s talk about parenting mistakes; you can let go of as a parent. Let’s talk about parenting mistakes; you can let go of as a parent. The guilt over parenting mistakes you may have made as a parent and how to let that go because of guilt, excessive guilt, inappropriate guilt can get in the way of your relationship with your child. If you feel like you have to make something up or you have to explain or get them to let you off the hook, that’s going to put a burden on your child that they don’t need. You can do this yourself, and I’m going to walk you through a couple of those. Parenting- the guilt, such a tough job that you can’t leave, and people’s lives depend on it. It’s pretty tricky, so what are these subjects or problems that people come to me with? Loss of Control One is the general topic of a loss of control. Let’s say you yelled at your child, or you showed a strong emotion about something else such as you were angry at your spouse, or an argument spilled over, or you punished them for a longer time than you think you should have. Or you went a little overboard, and you wish you hadn’t. Instead of beating yourself up over parenting mistakes, remember that it’s human. We have emotions; it’s not like you need to hide them; it’s not as if you’re going to instantaneously know what that emotion is and therefore be able to let it out more graciously. That’s why we have to go back often; you have to go back and re-examine, retrospect. Instead of beating yourself up, go back to your child and tell them you apologize. Give a brief explanation, nothing too long and say, “I’m so sorry my voice got louder, I yelled, and I wish I hadn’t. I want to discuss it with you; I think it’s because I had something else going on at work that day.” Keep it brief, and then ask for their permission to try again. Apologizing A lot of parents feel that they shouldn’t, or there’s some resistance to apologizing, but they want their kid to apologize to them, they’re huge on a child needing to apologize, needing to respect them but you have to respect your child also it’s a two-way street. If you want him …