Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ten Commandments for Stepparents

Based on their own experiences as stepparents and their work with stepparenting couples and groups, Sharon and James Turnbull offer ten commandments for stepparenting.

These guidelines were developed to facilitate familiarity with and appreciation for some of the conflicts and stresses faced by stepparents.

Provide neutral territory. Each child needs a place to call his/her own. When two sets of children are brought together, one group of children may think of themselves as the subfamily unless an effort is made to allow each child a space of his/her own.

Don't try to fit a preconceived role. Each parent is an individual and the children will need time to get used to you. Be honest and straight with them. Make every effort to respond intelligently and kindly but remember children are good at detecting phoniness.

Set limits and enforce them. You and your partner need to work out rules in advance and need to support each other when these rules need to be enforced. Keep the rules simple and few in number at the beginning. Fighting between you and your partner can really complicate things and children will try to take advantage of any fighting that does occur.

Allow an outlet for the child's feelings for the natural parent. Children need to express their feelings for the natural parent without being made to feel disloyal. Expressing love for a missing natural parent should not be looked on as rejection by the stepparent.

Expect ambivalence–children will show both love and hate for the stepparent. Ambivalence is normal in all human relationships. In the stepparent-child relationship it may be heightened because of the child's concern about being disloyal to the natural parent.

Avoid meal time misery. Stepparents may view the child's refusal to eat as rejection and frequently table manners become an issue. Children need to know what the rules are and usually will quickly learn to follow them. Avoid as much hassle as possible, allowing kids to fix their own meals or sharing this task when children are old enough.

Don't expect instant love; it takes time for emotional bonds to form and sometimes this never occurs. Children under three usually have an easier time adapting but in some relationships even the loving child will use the words, "I hate you," as a weapon when he/she gets older.

Don't take all the responsibility–the child has some too. The child's make-up, attitudes, and behavior may prevent the child from working with the stepparent. The stepparent can only do so much. How well she/he gets along with the child depends in part on the child.

Be patient–building trust takes time. Developing a New relationship and learning to get along in a new family with different rules and expectations takes time–sometimes months and years.

Maintain the privacy of the marital relationship. While the parenting role is important, the couple needs to spend time maintaining and strengthening the marriage relationship. The children will feel more secure if they realize that the parents get along together, can settle disputes and, most of all, cannot be divided by the children.

MN Children Youth & Family Consortium Electronic Clearinghouse. Permission is granted to create and distribute copies of these documents for non-commercial purposes provided that the author and MN CYFCEC receive acknowledgment and this notice is included. Phone: 612/626-9582;

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Co-Parenting After Divorce

Co-Parenting After Divorce: How to Raise Happy, Healthy Children in Two-Home Families

Co-Parenting After Divorce: How to Raise Happy, Healthy Children in Two-Home Families
By Diana Shulman

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Since the divorce procedure has become, legally speaking, nearly as innocuous as apple pie in America, the task has fallen to psychologists such as Shulman to provide both adults and children with the tools to get on with their lives.

In this book, devoted to the immense parenting problems of divorce, no space is wasted with esoteric or gushy narrative; Shulman writes in the style of a how-to manual. The book nonetheless achieves its stated goal of being "an unintimidating and practical guide to help with the adjustment process."

From the basics of "Creating a Co-Parenting Plan" to the specifics of handling the problems of children from infancy on up to age 18 in dealing with the divorce milieu, Shulman provides practical, straightforward capsules often broken down into useful steps.

Though this is most suitable for divorced parents as a "ready reference" guide for thinking quickly on one's feet, public libraries would certainly do patrons a service by adding it to their collections.?David M. Turkalo, Suffolk Univ. Law Sch. Lib., BostonCopyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Divorced Spouses Remain Co-parents

Source: Sandy Bailey, Montana State University Extension Family and Human Development Specialist & Montana Mediation Association 1/23/02

After divorce, children are members of two families and former spouses need to cooperate to make both homes supportive and secure for their children. Co-parenting skills are especially important, said Sandy Bailey, Montana State University Extension family and human development specialist.

In a new MontGuide fact sheet, "Co-Parenting After Divorce," Bailey offers information that may be helpful to parents who are going through divorce or have gone through divorce in the past and are looking for new ways to cooperate.

The bottom line in the four-page fact sheet is that children are generally better off when they are able to maintain the family relationships that were important to them prior to the divorce and when their parents are able to cooperate and be generally supportive of one another. That might not always be easy, but Bailey says that planning helps.

Even if they would prefer to avoid each other, parents need to develop a "limited partnership." The partnership needs to be clear, include both households, and be practical.

According to Maureen McInnis, a member of the Montana Mediation Association who operates a custodial mediation practice in Great Falls, the more parents can cooperate together the more they can stay in control of their parenting plan.

There are a variety of possible arrangements for a parenting plan and arrangements may need to change as the child gets older or if family situations change.

Sometimes the child lives with one parent and spends alternating weekends at the other parent's home. Some families alternate between the school year and school vacations. In other families, children move from one home to the other by splitting the week, a period of six months or the whole year.

On special occasions, some families split the day, some switch off year to year and some are able to have the parents come together and share the day with their children.

Different arrangements work for different families. Things to consider include the child's age and temperament, keeping life consistent for the child and keeping contact with both parents frequent.

There are many things to bear in mind when creating a healthy post-divorce environment, but the first thing on the list is to focus on your child's needs first, says Bailey.

She also acknowledges that cooperation may not be possible in every family. "If working with your former spouse is not possible, remaining in your child's life is still important. Some people do this through 'parallel parenting,' where they parent individually, but each continues to remain actively involved in their child's life."

Co-parenting classes are available in some communities, and in cases where cooperation is difficult, a mediator may be able to help facilitate differences between parents so that they can come to an agreement. For information on mediation resources, contact the Montana Mediation Association at (406) 522-0909. For a copy of "Co-Parenting after Divorce," (MT200111) or other parenting resources, contact Denise Seilstad, MSU Fergus County Extension Agent.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Putting Children First

Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies for Helping Children Thrive Through Divorce

An internationally renowned authority on children and divorce reveals the latest research-based strategies for helping children survive and thrive before, during, and long after their parents divorce.

The breakup of a family can have an enduring impact on children. But as explains with clarity and compassion in this powerful book, parents can positively alter the immediate and long-term effects of . The key is proven, emotionally intelligent parenting strategies that promote children's emotional health, resilience, and ability to lead satisfying lives.

Over the past three decades, Pedro-Carroll has worked with families in transition, conducted research, and developed and directed award- winning, court-endorsed programs that have helped thousands of families navigate divorce and its aftermath. Now she shares practical, research- based advice that helps parents:

  • gain a deeper understanding of what their children are experiencing
  • develop emotionally intelligent parenting strategies with the critical combination of boundless love and appropriate limits on behavior
  • reduce conflict with a former spouse and protect children from conflict's damaging effects
  • learn what recent brain research reveals about stress and children's developing capabilities

Filled with the voices and drawings of children and the stories of families, delivers a positive vision for a future of hope and healing.

Tags: Children and Divorce, Divorce, Pedro-Carroll, Navigate Divorce


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Blending Families Successfully

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, less than half of the people who get married in the United States remain with their first spouse, and less than 50 percent of children grow up with both biological parents. In short, we live in a society of blended families. Everyone who survives a divorce and enters a new family is vulnerable.

Blending Families Successfully: Helping Parents and Kids Navigate the Challenges So That Everyone Ends Up HappyGeorge Glass, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist, has designed a book to help parents understand the challenges of beginning new lives with blended families, and to help their children make the necessary adjustments. He explains how to approach unavoidable dilemmas when they occur and offers invaluable lessons about the link between divorce and issues of self-esteem, depression, substance abuse, and relationship failures that often result from the breakup of a family.

Gathered from his years in practice and his own personal experience as a member of a blended family, Glass provides practical solutions to everyday problems. Blending a family, Glass explains, is a process, which requires patience. It can take a long time to develop trust, acceptance, and a willingness to overlook transgressions that in the beginning can cause tension. Each chapter offers specific advice to help blended family members improve their communication skills and ease the transitions from separate households into a larger, combined community. Taken together with a steady dose of “Dos and Don’ts,” this book provides an inspiring toolkit for families in need.

Click here for more information

Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do

She's frank about the harrowing process of becoming a stepmother, she considers the myths and realities of being married to a man with children, and she counteracts the cultural notion that stepmothers are solely responsible for the problems that often develop. Click here for more information