FAMILY DYNAMICS & PARENTING SKILLS,
Dr. Mitch (myself) has been in Practice for over 30+ years (presently working as life coaches) and in my opinion, I believe that there is nothing more important in Life than raising your Family. As a Single Parent or a Couple, the most challenging for Parents (especially) if you are working, is to manage to give your family Quality of your time, as you might not have the Quantity you would like.
In addition, it is very important to identify any Individual or Family dynamics that are causing any one or more family members to exhibit problem behaviors. When you are sensitive enough to realize that something is wrong DO NOT HESITATE to Call Dr. Mitch or get Help rather than some parents rationalize to themselves that things will get better in time.
ADOLESCENCE is a tough times for everyone. Notice your teens behavior and the things that they say. Many times they are asking or calling for our help & guidance but they don't know how to communicate that. So be sure and look for your spots that you can open up the communication between the two of you. The signs are there if you really try & read between the lines. Don't take it for granted that everything is ok just because they do not get into trouble or have good grades. Many times teens are having more trouble when things are to silent and don't act out a little.
Be a good listener to your children and family and really try and get the real meaning of what they are trying to say.
Important Example: PROCESS VS CONTENT
The CONTENT of a conversation is the actual words the person is saying literally, but the PROCESS is the underlying meaning of those words. So for ex. if your 6 year old child asks you for a bank account and you just say no , that you are not old enough, the child would go away with some self doubt etc. But if instead, you sit back and said to yourself WHY IS MY CHILD ASKING THIS TO ME AT THIS PARTICULAR TIME and then I can answer my child by saying, OF COURSE YOU CAN GET A BANK ACCOUNT WHEN YOU ARE READY BECAUSE I SEE THAT YOU ARE VERY RESPONSIBLE WITH YOUR CHORES & SCHOOL WORK AND I CANNOT WAIT TO TAKE YOU TO THE BANK. Then your child will walk away feeling really good about themselves, which is the feedback they were really are looking for.
In Addition, I will go over Parenting skills as well, to help your child with their Behavior & Motivation. We want them to want to be THE BEST THAT THEY CAN BE!!
***10 Tips for How to Be a Better Parent***
Improving your parenting skills can feel intimidating. But being a better parent is about making the effort, not being perfect. Getting better at parenting is done the same way you get better at anything else. In other words, through practice, repetition, patience, and trial and error.
*********Here are 10 Tips for how to be a Better Parent through cultivating healthy skills and improving your relationship with your child.
****Praise and Appreciate your child.
There are sensitive teens. Don’t just praise them for their accomplishments. Offer praise for their natural character strengths, like humor, courage, and kindness. Praise them for sticking to their values, and for showing up for others and for themselves.
Validate your child’s emotions and experiences, even when you don’t fully understand where they’re coming from. Teens want to be respected and acknowledged. Validating their fears, joys, and frustrations will help them feel heard and safe.
Connect with your child frequently, through conversations and with physical affection. Make sure they know you’re there for them. Model and encourage healthy emotional expression, including tough emotions like anger or sadness.
Allow your child to be their own independent, autonomous person. This includes autonomy over their body as well as in the world around them. Encouraging autonomy in your child teaches them to find their own voice in the world.
****Avoid Helicopter Parenting.
It’s tempting to be a helicopter parent and try to protect your kids from anything that could hurt them. But it’s actually better for a teenager to make their own choices and be responsible for the consequences that occur. This teaches them that their actions matter and will help them make good decisions in the future.
***Create Clear Boundaries and Consequences
Discipline doesn’t mean punishing kids. New research shows that physical discipline and overcontrolling behavior is associated with poor mental health in children. Instead, set and enforce clear and fair rules, and consequences for breaking those rules.
*****Model Healthy Relationships.
This includes being respectful, taking responsibility for one’s own behavior and reactions, and treating others (and yourself) with compassion and kindness.
***Have High Expectations ( Not Unrealistic)
Parenting experts use the word demandingness to describe how much parents control their child’s behavior and require them to be mature. Having a high level of demandingness combined with a high level of responsiveness is associated with authoritarian parenting, which research shows is the healthiest parenting style. Hold your child to high standards—without shaming them when they don’t achieve a goal.
Being kind to yourself, even when you’re not feeling great about your parenting, will help you stay balanced and positive. Research done on parenting during COVID found that parents who were more self-compassionate were less critical of themselves, experienced less stress, and were less likely to perceive parenting challenges as personal failures.
***BLENDING FAMILIES KEY POINTS**
- Two keys to blending families are the recognition that it takes time and the understanding of reactions.
- The goals of a blended family are the care of children and the care of the new marriage.
- The reactions of children and teens remind us that time is needed to heal from loss and embrace change.
Blended families generally begin with two adults who have had a loss by the death or divorce of a partner, decide to marry, and want to blend their children into a family.
Data on marriage, divorce, and remarriage in the United States show that 43 percent of first marriages end in separation or divorce within 15 years. Given remarriage and re-partnering, a substantial number of parents and children are blending.
According to Diana Weiss-Wisdom, author of Stepparenting: Succeed Where Others Have Failed, there are two major goals to keep in mind when blending families: commitment of all adults to the care of the children and commitment of the adults to their new marriage.
Sometimes these goals feel incompatible. Sometimes they feel impossible. Both can be accomplished if the adults who are blending their families recognize that blending takes time and understanding.
Time can be a stress factor or a crucial resource. Blending a family is a process that takes time. If you keep time on your side, you may be able to suspend expectations, appreciate small steps, and trust the power of love, flexibility, and take-out food.
Over years of working with couples trying to blend families, it becomes clear that the process can be a special journey or a rocky road. Understanding reactions, considering ways to address them, and allowing for adjustments often pave the way for adults and children “to happily blend.”
Children and Teen Reactions
A teen comments about her stepbrother: “Why do I have to spend time with him, when I don’t really know him?”
A grade-school child blurts out: “You’re not my mother!”
A college coed reports that he's not coming home for the holidays: "I’ll stay with friends."
While not easy for a parent or stepparent to hear, a consideration of the child's or teen’s reality may put such reactions into perspective.
- Whereas adults who have suffered the death of a spouse or fought through a divorce are thrilled with a new love and excited to blend families, children and teens need time. Emotionally they are in a different place than the adults.
- Most children who have lost a parent by death, or experienced the loss of a family by divorce, need time to grieve before accepting or loving a new parent.
In the book, Blended: Writers on the Stepfamily Experience, oen contributor, Betsy Graziano, shares the response of her 5-year-old stepson, who tells her that he will call her Betsy, not Mom. Disappointed, she agrees. Over time, he explains that he thinks “Mom” when he calls her Betsy—because “Moms die.”
- Often the very presence of a stepparent is a reminder of loss or a reality check for a child or teen that their parents will not reconcile.
- The re-emergence of feelings of loss often fuels anger as well as guilt in children. We might even consider that the archetype of the wicked stepmother in age-old fairy tales and all too many Disney movies is a projection of the rage and pain a child feels with the loss of the mother/parent.
- Often competitive loyalties are confusing: How does a little one know how to hold on to the good feelings of being with Mom’s new husband when Dad is sad?
One stepparent reported that she would see her stepchildren play with her own children and clearly have a good time but refuse to bring any new toys or art projects back home.
How do teens, who have a difficult time with anyone their parents like, get comfortable sharing space with another adult, much less other kids?
One teen told me that she felt that she was being forced to love people she didn’t even like: "It’s like a pre-arranged marriage.”
The groundwork for a positive blended family is maintaining the safe bond with the natural parent.
- When we consider that children have no choice in the loss or divorce of a parent and no choice in the re-marriage and blending of families, their angry mood or silence is understandable.
- That said, if the response is extreme, it can be very provocative and frustrating to a parent trying his/her/their best to get a new marriage and a blended family to work.
- From the beginning, it is strongly suggested that the natural parent remain the confidante and disciplinarian of their own child or teen—regardless of gender.
- It is important for the natural parent to retain the bond with their own child so the child or teen can forge a relationship with the new parent on their own terms.
- When time is allowed, it often happens that the stepparent ends up being the favorite, cool one.
- It is valuable for the parent to validate their child’s feelings even as the parent makes a request that they not be rude or dismissive to their new partner: “I know this is hard for you; I am just asking that you not be cruel.”
As part of the adjustment to the blended family, it is important for the natural parents to make special time for their own child/children as well as their stepchildren so the children know there is room for special bonds in this new family.
Often stepparents feel like they have the most difficult role. Excited about the prospect of embracing the children of their new loving partner, they end up bracing themselves for rejection: “I am trying to show love and care but I am being ignored—It's a terrible feeling.”
- Stepparents need to leave their expertise and expectations at the door.
- While younger children may warm up more quickly, most children don’t want another parent.
- Take it slow.
- Show an interest in what they are playing or doing.
- If you share a sport or hobby, be authentic; your goal is to be an interested adult. Let the child's or teen’s needs set the pace.
- Sometimes in a caretaking role, a stepparent is upset or concerned about the neglect or problems of a natural parent with whom the child lives.
- The rule “I can talk about my mother, but no one else can” applies here. Our very basic needs compel us to protect even the most dysfunctional parent as a lifeline. As such, the natural parent and ex-spouse of the child's parent is in the best position to address the issue.
- Stepparents do well when trying to make a positive contribution to a child's or teen’s life to proceed with patience in terms of help and support.
The Blending of Children
- When not forced upon each other, children and teens find a way.
- Often their cohesion is fueled by their lack of patience for all parents.
- Children are never static, so enjoy the moments and look forward to the changes.
The Importance of the New Marriage
Children need parents to have a loving new marriage—although it may not always seem that way. When they feel loved and included, your happiness as a couple fosters the best of a blended family.
“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.”