Posts filed under ‘sp magazine’

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

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

The Birth of SP (Single Parent / Step Parent)Magazine

A single mom since 1996, I struggled to find publications that contained editorial on being a single parent. For years I said to myself that if no one was going to do this, I would. But fear always took precedence. With no publishing background, I would take minor steps, I even bought a domain to start a website, but time and experience and fear would get in the way and eventually I would put it aside for a later date.

Fastfoward 9 years. In late 2005, I was laid off and thought to myself that it was a very good thing. I would finally research and start the magazine! But fear took over again and I decided I would stick to what I knew well and that was corporate computer training. But less than 2 years later I found myself struggling to find work. It took almost a year, and thousands of dollars in debt later, to finally get the courage to start the magazine. I had NOTHING to lose, literally. I was on the verge of losing everything because I had pretty much depleted my ‘debt income’ (my term for living off of my equity and credit cards) and was unable to pay bills.

In February 2008, I recruited help from networking events and a meetup group I started at meetup.com and found a production manager, one who had decades of experience in magazine layout, and a few writers. Salespeople are hard to come by so I set out to do sales myself. By the end of April I had enough sales to cover most of the printing costs so with the last credit card standing, I maxed it and sent out the finalized 16-page production to a printer and SP Magazine was born!

The week the magazine was born (it really felt like I gave birth) was a very good week because I also found work. Although I wanted to devote 100% of my time to this new child of mine, I new that I had to take care of my priorities in order to keep my son fed with a roof over his head.

Today I work full-time for a great organization that is getting me back on track with my bills. In the evenings and weekends, after I’ve spent quality time with my boy, I am working on the magazine and reinventing a plan for the publication to run smoothly next year. There will be one more issue in 2008 and it will be available in November. Thank you to all the volunteer writers and volunteer contributors that are helping to make this happen! And thank you to the subscribers that have faith in me and this magazine!

October 25, 2008 at 7:49 PM 3 comments

Raising a Teen – the early stages

I’ve entered what I like to call Phase 3 of Child Rearing. Phase 1 is from childbirth through 4 or 5 years old where everything is an adventure because life is grand and new, always learning and retaining.

Phase 2, through about age 11 or so, is when life tones downs a little, it’s not always fun and games due to the new responsibility of homework and a more regiment routine. My son had such a wonderful Phase 1 that even today, in Phase 3, he wishes to go back to a time where he didn’t have to worry about assignments and being mature (the latter he’s taking his time with).

Now we’re in Phase 3, which starts from about age 12 or 13 and, from what I hear (my son is 13), it lasts until about age 16. This phase is a detachment phase. Since my son was 1, it has pretty much been just the two of us. We’re very close to say the least. But in the past year I have unexpectly had more time for myself. I’ve learned from asking and reading books that, though he loves me very much (at times undeniably), I’m pretty much the last person he wants to do fun and exciting things with. If I compare my situation to other parents with young teenaged children, we’re doing a heck of a lot together but I’m preparing myself and accepting this phase, that my little boy is no longer little :(. As he enters this phase that will lead him to adulthood (phase 4), I wish him much wisdom and success with friends, education and new responsibilities.

Here’s to all the single mothers and fathers who I credit greatly on doing a heck of a job. Remember, we ALL make mistakes. So when life throws you lemons, remember that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Pat yourself on the back for being two people in one, a mother and father (or vice versa, whichever you prefer :)!

October 22, 2008 at 2:01 PM Leave a comment

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