Posts filed under ‘Single Parents’

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

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

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

A Child’s Thoughts (from SP Magazine’s Vol 1 Issue 1)

Being an Only Child with a Single Parent

By Peter Rodrigues (unedited)

 

Being an only child with a single parent is normal for me now. I also got used to having a pet. I’m 12 years old now. My whole life I’ve been alone with my mom. There are very bad and very good things about having a single parent and being an only child. First of all, the disadvantages of being the son of a single parent: One is that my mom is always working so I’m always alone. Also, one parent might not like things you do but if you had another, that one might. Now about being an only child I don’t have to take away spare time to take care of a little kid or get bullied by an older sibling. Plus, I dn’t have to let anyone mess with my stuff or me getting in trouble for getting mad.

 

            Now, the benefits of all that. If I want to do something, my parents don’t need to have an argument. Then they might argue and by the time they’re done, they say yes but it’s too late now. And two parents would be a problem because of double punishment, and double strictness.

 

            Something that would be good about having two parents is that we would have more money, which means I could get more things. So that’s all I thought of today about being an only child with a single parent. My name is Peter Rodrigues. I’m 12 years old. This is how I lived all my life and that’s all I have to say about being an only child with a single parent.

October 29, 2008 at 8:40 AM Leave a comment

Going Green (from SP Magazine’s Issue 1 Vol 1)

Going Green?

By Barbara Beelitz

 

Sometimes the idea of “going green” can feel overwhelming, and sound expensive – hybrid vehicles, solar heating panels, new appliances. Yikes! That sounds like more than most of us can afford. We don’t know where to start, so we don’t start at all.

 

But, like any other project worth doing, if we break it down into bite-size pieces, we can actually begin to make a difference. Every step in the right direction counts.

 

Don’t take it all on yourself. Involve the family. If your children are old enough to use a computer, give them the assignment of finding one or two changes you can make every month so they can feel they are making a contribution as well. Introduce your children to sites such as http://www.epa.gov/kids, www.pbskids.org/eekoworld or http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/kids. They’re fun and informative. Or, just do a search for “kids green websites” where you will find an amazing number of sites to explore.

 

So you want to get started immediately but don’t have the time to figure out where to begin… here are a few changes you can make right now, as well as the positive impact they will have on our environment.

 

1.     Skip the bottled water – There are 2.7 million tons of plastic used to make water bottles each year. In the U.S., less than 20 percent of water bottles are recycled. Also consider the health ramifications of plastic. According to the Enviromental Working Group (www.ewg.org) “Make sure your stainless steel bottle doesn’t have a plastic liner inside, which may leach bisphenol-A (BPA), an industrial chemical linked to birth defects of the male and female reproductive systems and other health concerns.” Filter your tap water, and consider purchasing a reusable bottle such as the Klean Kanteen stainless steel bottle at http://www.kleankanteen.com. They’re durable, lightweight and come in a variety of sizes.

2.     Bring your own mug to coffee shops when you stop for your morning brew. You can determine just how much your traditional paper or Styrofoam cups are contributing to landfills by going to http://www.dzignism.com/projects/coffee.waste. If you’re ready to make a change, go to www.reusablebags.com where you can shop for a “stainless steel travel mug”.

3.     STOP THE PLASTIC BAGS FROM TAKING OVER! Approximately 100 billion plastic bags are used each year. Very few of them are recycled. Bring your own cloth bags to the supermarket to bag your orders instead of using plastic. Some stores are actually issuing credits for reusing your shopping bags or bringing your own cloth version.

4.     Make sure the paper products you need to use are made from recycled paper. Sunrise by Marcal paper products are 100% premium recycled paper manufactured by New Jersey’s own Marcal Paper Mills. Marcal has been recycling paper for over 60 years, collecting over 200,000 tons of recyclable paper annually from local towns and offices.

5.     Don’t exceed the speed limit when driving. “Driving 75 mph instead of 65 mph will lower your fuel economy by about 10 percent, and can dramatically increase tailpipe pollution in many vehicles,” as per Greenercars.org.

6.     Another great website to visit is www.idealbite.com. You will find simple, innovative ways to go green.

 

Remember to give yourself credit for each step you take. There will always be ways we can improve and lead healthier lives for our own good as well as the good of our planet. Keep in mind the words of Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian author, educator and scholar, who once said On Spaceship Earth there are no passengers; everybody is a member of the crew. We have moved into an age in which everybody’s activities affect everybody else. Take responsibility by taking action. Now.

 

 

Pamela Beelitz is a Shaklee Independent Distributor whose product lines include nutritional supplements, green cleaning products, weight management, skin care, cosmetics and air & water purification.

October 28, 2008 at 8:37 AM Leave a comment

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