Posts filed under ‘single mom’

When Single Parents Merge

Finding the right person is tough. Finding the right person for yourself and your child(ren), well, that’s even tougher. You may feel a connection with someone and then BAM, your kids feel no connection at all. Or it could be that your kids like your boyfriend or girlfriend but in time, they feel jealousy or feel left out because they no longer get the attention they once had from you.

Do tread carefully! If you do not listen intently, not just what your kids tell you, but how your kids behave or change, you may be in for some parenting challenges beyond your imagination. Some parents may feel they are doing the best they can but in reality they are not. When a kid turns to bad behavior, how we respond makes all the difference in the world. Some kids will not communicate verbally. They may shut down completely or act out in ways we do not appreciate but they are kids. If your child is a teenager, do not see them as adults, they still have a lot of growing up to do. Spend alone time with them like you used to. Assure them that they are still loved by you. Don’t give up on them because they are craving your love even though they may seem to want nothing to do with you.

Here’s an article from the Fall 2009 issue of SP on the trials of instant parenthood, written by Christine Hurst, a Licensed Therapist and ACPI Certified Coach for Parents & Stepparents:

One of the most difficult barriers for stepparents to overcome is that there may be expectations that things are to be “instant’ when there is nothing instant about them. For example, any relationship between people takes time to establish and similarly every relationship has its ups and downs. There is nothing instant or constant about the relationship of a stepparent and a child. The stepparent and biological parent should be prepared for a long journey as this relationship grows and evolves.

It is important for stepparents and biological parents in the first year or two to recognize that the stepparent needs to gradually grow into their role as a parent-like figure in their stepchild’s life. It can be detrimental to the relationship for the stepparent to come into a family situation assuming parental responsibilities with no or little history or trust to fall back on. This is also dependant on the age of the child. The younger the child the more likely they will be able to adjust to the stepparent as a parental-like figure. A stepparent should approach their role as an adult mentor to the child and a teammate to their partner expecting that time will tell how the relationships will evolve.

Also, the more you know about a child, the less chance you will be upset by particular behaviors. The biological parent remembers loving times and can look at a young adolescent’s rebellion as “just a stage.” The stepparent does not have the history to compare this behavior against a background of easier times.

Stepparents may be entering the relationship with no children of their own or with children of their own. Adjusting to having time, space, and order compromised or sacrificed can be a very difficult task. Stepparents without children are not used to having to sacrifice their time or space as a stepparent who has children of their own. However, a stepparent who has children of their own now has to balance their time with their stepchildren too. In addition, there are stepparents who cannot have children of their own for whatever reason. The grief of not being able to have your own children can be stirred up while being a stepparent, especially for women.

Developing a stepfamily takes a lot of time and energy that is unpredictable until the couple is in the midst of it. At times, it can feel almost impossible to establish a cohesive stepfamily in-between the back-and-forth visits of the children along with daily stresses of life.
Patricia Papernow, a family-life specialist, has identified stages of stepfamily development. These stages can be helpful for stepfamilies to understand that the struggles they are undergoing is part of the process and although at times it may be very difficult there can be a positive outcome.

Fantasy Stage
In the beginning, the newly wed couple may have expectations that the family will quickly unite and the children will adapt quickly. Biological parent may feel relieved that they now have a partner to help with the parenting responsibilities and the step-parent may hope they can rescue the children from any hurt that they underwent with the divorce. For the children, they often wish that the stepparent and stepsiblings would disappear. They may even still have fantasies that their biological mother and father will reunite.

Immersion Stage
When expectations are not met this can lead to frustration, loneliness, guilt, anger, grief, and more. The biological parent may become angry that they still have to do all of the parenting. The stepparent may feel jealous that they are not getting enough alone time with their spouse. The children may start to resent the stepparent for trying to replace their biological parent’s place.

Awareness Stage
The family members’ feelings of hurt, loss and each member’s differing needs must come to light. It can be very difficult to talk about negative feelings and that is why children and teens may begin to act out. For example, the children may begin acting out at school or the teen may avoid being home. The parent and step-parent may begin to argue more and the marriage may become strained. If stepfamilies cannot speak to what is bothering them they may become stuck.

Mobilization Stage
However, if they can begin to speak to what is bothering them they will move into the mobilization stage. This is the beginning to understanding each member’s needs.
Then the family can begin to problem solve. It is important to understand each other’s needs and to create solutions that work for everyone.

Action Stage
Now that the struggles are out in the open the couple can being to find solutions and create new rituals. The couple will begin to create schedules and implement bonding time that will help to address the children’s needs.

Resolution Stage
This is the stage where relationships potentially can become close. Rules and routines that once created misunderstandings are now normal aspects of this families everyday life. The old fantasies are let go and now members of this family are functioning with more realistic expectations.
However, it is important to remember that not all children will get close to their step-parents. In these situations what is important is that there is mutual respect and cooperation.
For some families this process can take less than 4 years and for others it can take 7 or more. This is evidence that it takes time and if your family is struggling to not be discouraged.

Here are some tips that may help when the going is rough:
• Do what you can to understand stepfamily functioning. Join support groups, read books, reach out to a counselor or parent coach who understands stepfamily dynamics. This will help you to let go of their fantasies and work toward realistic goals.
• Never talk negatively about absent parent in front of children. If a child feels his or her relationship with the absent parent is threatened, he or she may act out.
• Listen to children’s feelings and do not dismiss or minimize how they are feeling.
• To resolve conflicts, parents need to be united on a strategy and include the children on problem solving when it is appropriate.

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March 30, 2010 at 11:27 AM Leave a comment

Using Children as Pawns

Can a parent, with all the love we have for our children, lose site of what’s best for them when angry at the other parent? You betcha! Too often are parents so enthralled in their little world of anger that they lose site of what’s best for the child. They make decisions based on anger and self-pity and use the children as a weapon of emotional destruction towards the other parent.

Unless there is a perfectly good reason, punishing the other parent by turning the children against them, or trying to, and keeping the children away is not only selfish but harmful to the child as this can affect them in their teen years as well as adulthood.

Below are suggested sites that can help you learn more about this subject and perhaps help you become a better parent. We’re not perfect. We acknowledge our mistakes and for the love of our children, make it better each day.

How to Make Shared Custody Work

Surviving Divorce and Separation

The Politics of Divorce

Have other suggested sites? Comment and share!

SP Magazine

August 10, 2009 at 8:51 PM 2 comments

Do father’s have equal rights when battling custody?

It seems that times are in constant change. One topic I’ve heard plenty over the course of my research to publish SPMagazine.Net is that father’s have to fight super hard to gain custody rights of their children. Or in the least, fight an expensive battle just to spend a little extra time with their children who were once under the same roof as their dads on a daily basis. If the kids want to be with the other parent, put your differences aside. Trust me, it will help you in the long run.

The fathers I have met in the last couple of years have brought tears to my eyes. Why? They will put off anything to spend quality time with their children and I feel like my son was short-handed. His father, who unfortunately gives other fathers a bad rap making the court system what it is today, spends zero time with his son. Yet he expects his son on Father’s Day because there is a big feast. Everyone in his circle of friends and family expects a father and son, obviously. To show up without a kid would be detrimental to the image he’s been portraying – a tattoo with this son’s name and birthday. The bad mom that doesn’t let him spend that quality time with his son. I recently found out that he had been telling lies for years saying he calls to see his son all the time but I wouldn’t allow it. A fallacy that kills me because the one thing I promised myself  as a child was never to do that to my own kids. You see, my mother did that to my siblings and I and it was not fair to us. It’s been a difficult time forgiving my mother for what she did.

Children are used as tools by some mothers, giving mother’s like me a bad rap – and a believable lie to use for some men, not going to point fingers. 🙂 I have seen first hand, second hand, and whatever other terms there are to use, how women who claim to love their children will use their kid(s) as pawns just to get their way whether it is for financial gain or because of emotional injury.

Here’s a message for mothers and/or fathers, FORGET for  a minute that the other hurt you or is not paying child support. The children and your personal adult misunderstandings and issues have nothing to do with parenting. If you can truly say your children enjoy the other parent and they miss them (unless there are addictions like alcoholism and/or scary pedophiliac tendencies) let them spend time with the other parent!

My son wishes now more then ever that his father took part in his life – he’s in his early teens. Don’t take away from the child any quality time with the other parent because you can’t turn back time. Hard as it may be emotionally, give in for the child’s sake and find some busy hobbies, work, time with friends and family, anything to help you through that time away from the kid(s). And when your kid(s) grow up, they WILL appreciate your good efforts. It comes back to you, so think about the future! Don’t ruin a good relationship with your children.

July 7, 2009 at 1:00 PM 11 comments

Should children be spanked?

Diane and Peter on a boat in St. Maarten

On a boat in St. Maarten - Mom and son vacation continues to be a yearly priority, no matter how much harder I have to work.

Are you raising your child(ren) the same way you were raised? Spanking as a form of punishment is not like it used to be and if you are one of many raised by ‘the belt’, than you’re probably nodding your head. Most people will tell you stories about their childhood that make you cringe. Many parents today who experienced harsh forms of childhood discipline refuse to raise a hand to their children while others fall into the same pattern, with feelings of guilt after their actions.

As a product of a harsh disciplinary upbringing, I made a conscious decision not to spank. However, I am guilty of going against my will. On those rare occasions, I felt this uncontrollable urge that ended in spanking my son on the buttocks or on his arm. In the end, it left me feeling horribly regretful – even though it was nothing close to what I had endured as a kid.

For my child, my main choice for disciplinary action was through time-outs (1 minute per age) and it was by far more effective. Spanking brought on rebellion, anger and the urge for my child to hit me back.

For hours after those few times I spanked my son I remember my guilty conscious would get the best of me, keeping me up wondering why and how I can ensure I wasn’t a repeat offender. I often I asked myself, was the spanking (or yelling – a whole different animal) a part of my child’s misbehaving or was there something else lingering behind my actions (besides a natural instinct from my upbringing)? In most, if not all cases, it wasn’t my son’s misbehavior. The culprit was usually a bad day at work, a situation with a friend or family member, feeling lonely as a single parent and in need of a mommy break. The list of excuses can go on but in the end it was something else and my son was getting punished for it.

Parenting is never easy and it’s even more demanding when there is only one parent dealing with the day to day list of demands.  At the end of the day, I  look back and feel satisfied as a parent because I did something about my guilty conscious by trying harder each time to control my urges. My son is happy, treats his elders and everyone that comes in contact with him with respect, and has few memories (can count them in one hand) of spanking as a form of discipline and many memories of time well spent. I think that was the main secret, I spent a lot of time with him and we had a lot of fun.

So, don’t beat yourself up! If you’re reading this, you are obviously a GREAT parent who wants the best for your child(ren) and I commend you for that.

Here are sites that might help on this topic:

Why NOT to Spank

http://www.principalhealthnews.com/topic/spanking6to12

Time-Out Proponents / Time-Out Opponents (from one of my favorite sites, about.com)

http://childcare.about.com/od/behaviors/qt/timeouts.htm

On Spanking: Raising Children 1-3 and 3-6 at AHealthyMe.com

http://www.ahealthyme.com/topic/spanking1to3

http://www.ahealthyme.com/topic/spanking3to6

If it’s your strong belief to use spanking as a form of discipline, here’s a helpful ‘How To’ guide:

http://www.wikihow.com/Include-Spanking-in-Child-Discipline

Share your story and/or thoughts by adding a comment. Are you a single parent or step parent? Visit SP at www.spmagazine.net for information on our publication.

May 18, 2009 at 1:32 PM 11 comments

Topics for Single Moms, Single Dads & the Blended Families

I’m laying on my sofa on a beautiful day (my son is sick) and I’m contemplating what topics to bring single parents and blended families on the next issue of SP Magazine. At this point, I really should have already had general topics for the rest of the year but in my world, not so much. However, I can now focus on SP thanks to a wonderful new start.

So, I will ponder on this and when I come up with some ideas, and hopefully some tips from awesome participating single parents and step parents, I’ll get back on here and share!

May 16, 2009 at 8:19 PM 2 comments

Blind and Parenting

Friday, February 27, 2009 I attended a meeting for a blind organization called Beyond the Eyes. What a wonderful group! It was an honor to have been asked to attend by James Jasey, President of Beyond the Eyes, who’s touching story will soon be printed in an upcoming issue of SP Magazine.

James Jasey became a single parent after losing his wife and later lost his vision shortly after a near fatal car accident.  His story is sure to touch your hearts! Imagine as parents not being able to visually see the physical changes in your children as they grow, or to be able to see your child(ren)’s artistic abilities, see them play sports, and more. But life goes on and only YOU can make the best of it with what you have.  Don’t miss the next issue. Go to spmagazine.net to subscribe.

Want to learn more about the blind organization? The group meets once a month to identify needs, issues and concerns in the blind organization and to support and encourage each other and much more.  For more information, go to beyondtheeyes.info.

March 2, 2009 at 6:42 PM 1 comment

Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas?

The holidays are upon us. Emails and news reports have been going around about how ‘Happy Holidays’ is now a plot to remove the word ‘Christmas’. Although there is truth of a process of elimination in schools about praying and removing God from their vocabulary, in my opinion, Happy Holidays is not a part of this scheme. It is simply shorter to say HAPPY HOLIDAYS to someone then it is to say “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you”. In today’s society, with all the information processing and busier lifestyles, we find shortcuts to quickly say what we need to say and move on. And that’s not the only reason, I trully respect that others are not of my Christian faith and belief in Jesus so when I’m unsure, I purposely say Happy Holidays. Let’s not worry about yet another ‘what if’, be merry and love and respect each other, Happy Holidays!

One more thing. This is a time of cheer and giving. Although for some, it’s a time of loneliness and depression. Some refer to it as the ‘Winter Blues’. In addition, some may also struggle to give because of limited income. For single parents, they may come across both and sometimes want to hide and make it go away. But we don’t because we have someone to care for that is really looking forward to that time of cheer and a gift to open. Procrastinating is almost inevitable but we eventually get around to it because we love our child(ren). To all my fellow single parents, an extra blessing to you and everyone else who struggles in one way or another but yet you continue to grow strong and make the next day a better day.

Have a very Merry Christmas, a very Happy Holiday to all and a fabulous Happy New Year where ever you may be!

December 20, 2008 at 5:22 PM Leave a comment

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