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Be Your Own Author: Create Your Own Path after Divorce

Be Your Own Author: Create Your Own Path after Divorce

Divorce stinks. But, like most bad things, we should try to find the silver lining in trauma. Divorce is no different. Take the opportunity to use divorce as the beginning of your next chapter in life…the chapter you get to write and live as you want.

The post Be Your Own Author: Create Your Own Path after Divorce appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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8 Tips to Bond with Your Stepchild and Create Positive Memories as a Stepfamily

8 Tips to Bond with Your Stepchild and Create Positive Memories as a Stepfamily

remarriage manualUNDERSTANDING YOUR STEPCHILD

Victoria was about 10 years old when her father, Ryan, married Lisa. In her view, she had little control over the events unfolding in her life, including her mother remarrying and starting a new family quickly.

Even though Lisa seemed nice enough and obviously really loved her dad, it still didn’t seem fair to Victoria that her life had to change so radically. When she met me for an interview, she was eager to share her perspectives as a stepchild.

In her mind, nothing would ever be the same after her parents’ split and she believes that parents ought to be more understanding about the stepchild’s plight.

Victoria reflects, “I wrote on my closet door, ‘January 18 was the worst day of my life’ — the day of my parents’ divorce. For me, divorce meant changes in where I lived, changes at school and with friends and having to spend time with new adults I didn’t particularly want to spend time with.

No one asked me if I wanted any of those things to happen, but they did, without my consent, and sometimes without warning.”

During our in-depth interview, Victoria speaks with anguish about both of her parents getting remarried around the same time. She explains, “I had a teacher tell me that if I loved my parents, I would accept their significant others because I’d want them to be happy. Inside I was screaming, ‘What about my happiness?’”

These are hard issues, and there are no easy fixes, but following these tips can help you weather the rough times and be a supportive stepparent.

8Tips to Bond with Your Stepchild and Create Positive Memories as a Stepfamily

  1. Proceed slowly. Take your time getting to know your stepchild. If you rush the relationship, it may satisfy your own unmet needs to be liked, but your approach could backfire. It’s important to realize that you’re not replacing your stepchild’s other parent; your role is more of a mentor. Never make your stepchild feel as if they have to choose between their biological parent and you. Over time, everyone in the recoupled family can create a positive culture together.
  2. Respect your spouse’s relationship with your stepchild. And don’t feel threatened by their close connection. Your partner will want to spend special time with their child, so try not to feel neglected by them. Make plans with your friends or with your own kids and graciously step out of their way.
  3. Develop a relationship with your stepchild through daily activities, hobbies, and shared interests to create positive memories. Strive to engage in activities as a family unit as much as possible so everyone has an opportunity to make a connection. Sharing interests in sports or the arts can help you develop a bond. Spending time together, even if it’s eating a meal or watching a movie, can help weave the fabric of stronger stepfamily relationships.
  4. Understand your stepchild’s view and have realistic expectations. First, it’s a given that your stepchild had a relationship with your spouse that existed before you came on the scene. They’re likely to see you as a rival to both of their parents. Even if your stepchild seems to like you well enough, they will sometimes prefer you weren’t in the picture and may express this by ignoring you or being indifferent or rude. Your remarriage effectively ends any hope of their mother and father reunifying and can reignite feelings of loss for your stepchild.
  5. Be sure to discuss roles and feelings about parenting with your spouse. Sometimes a biological parent may not understand a stepparent’s feelings of rejection. They may need you to tell them what they can do to support you. On the other hand, a biological parent may feel criticized and get defensive when their spouse offers unsolicited advice about parenting. Blending your sometimes-opposing styles of parenting and focusing on what you have in common will benefit all family members.
  6. Be courteous and respectful of your child’s and stepchild’s “other parent.” Keep in mind that it is likely that they would not have chosen to have their children live with them part-time. Stepparents need to stay out of interactions between biological parents working out holiday or vacation schedules, and biological parents need to be collaborative when planning family events.
  7. Realize that love often comes later. Even if you don’t hit it off with your stepchild, you can still develop a working relationship built on respect. If your stepchild does not warm up to you right away, that does not mean you have failed. Adopting realistic expectations can help you get through some rough spots. Be patient and try not to react with anger if your stepchild gives you the cold shoulder or is a little impolite sometimes.
  8. Cooperate with your partner, and talk, talk, talk. Most of the talking will take place away from your children or stepchildren, but be sure to have cordial conversations and informal discussions about family rules, roles, chores, and routines with the kids.

TERRY GASPARDMSW, LICSW is a licensed therapist and author. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TheGoodMenProject, The Gottman Institute Blog, and Marriage.com. Her new book, out now, is THE REMARRIAGE MANUAL: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around.

Follow Terry on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com.

Excerpted from THE REMARRIAGE MANUAL by Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW. Credit Terry Gaspard. Reprinted with permission of Sounds True. All rights reserved.

The post 8 Tips to Bond with Your Stepchild and Create Positive Memories as a Stepfamily appeared first on Divorced Moms.



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Create a Life You Love Without New Year’s Resolutions

Create a Life You Love Without New Year’s Resolutions

Make 2020 your best year yet! Say goodbye to New Year’s resolutions and live your best life every day with this 4-step plan.

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A 4-Step Plan to Create a Life You Love without New Year’s Resolutions

A 4-Step Plan to Create a Life You Love without New Year’s Resolutions

Make this your best year up to now! Say goodbye to new year’s resolutions and live your best life every day.

The post A 4-Step Plan to Create a Life You Love without New Year’s Resolutions appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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new thanksgiving traditions

18 New Thanksgiving Traditions To Create For You and Your Children

new thanksgiving traditions

 

Why not replace some of those old, pre-divorce Thanksgiving traditions with new Thanksgiving traditions?

It only makes sense, especially if thoughts of the traditions you had as an intact family bring up negative emotions.

One of the best and most rewarding things about having kids is introducing them to your favorite traditions. And, building new ones that will turn into their favorites.

Show them that things like divorce and the change that comes with it can be good by building new traditions to carry with your family in the new life you’re building for yourself.

18 New Thanksgiving Traditions to Create With Your Children

Draw Your Thanks

Cover the holiday table with a white tablecloth. Place glasses filled with cloth markers around the table. Ask your children to draw what they’re thankful for or just something fun—like their favorite Thanksgiving memory.

It’s All about the Pumpkins

Place a small pumpkin at each place setting. Around the table, leave small bowls with glitter, markers, stickers, etc. and ask your children to decorate the pumpkins like their favorite Thanksgiving character–a turkey, pilgrim, Plymouth Rock … whatever.

Gather Fall Foliage

Ask children to gather up acorns, pinecones, and other outdoor foliage to make fall wreaths. You can either have these made before people arrive for dinner or make it an art project for everyone to do together while the turkey cooks.

Decorate Everything in Sight

You can find everything, pumpkins (candles, centerpieces, wreaths, etc.) and turkey (chocolate, ones that gobble) at local craft stores like Michael’s. Get everything you can, and decorate each and every room of the house with turkeys and pumpkins—even the bathroom!

Watch the Parade

Before the food and the stretchy pants come out, put on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Everyone can pick out their favorite balloon and float, and you can all marvel at the new giant balloons that appear each year.

Make a Pin-Up

Hang up a large picture of a turkey and play pin the feathers on the turkey. Whoever gets the feather the closest, gets the first helping of turkey or the wishbone to make a wish.

Lend a Hand

Have your children make handprint turkeys. You can put children’s names (and the date) on them and use these as place settings. Keep them after the holiday, and bring them out each year to compare hand sizes.

Save Room for Peanuts

From Thanksgiving to Christmas, there is no shortage of fabulous movies and TV specials to watch. On Thanksgiving, pop on A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. There’s nothing more fun for kids and adults than watching Snoopy and the gang.

Have Game Time

In between courses, bring out old school board games from Monopoly to Scrabble to Candyland and hold a board game tournament. This will give your children plenty of time to digest in between the main meal and dessert.

Toss the Ball 

Besides turkey and pie, nothing says Thanksgiving like football! Grab the pigskin and enjoy the great outdoors while the turkey is cooking. And of course, watching football on TV is a time-honored tradition, too.

Jingle Those Bells

While cooking, blast some holiday music (Yes, it’s OK to start Christmas music already) and have a dance party with your children. They’ll remember those fun times more than the meal!

Make It Your Own

Formal isn’t always better. Our family tradition is that every year we all wear crazy Thanksgiving themed hats … some light up, some make noise, but everyone–even the kids get one. Some look like a turkey, while one is in the shape of a pumpkin pie complete with a dollop of whipped cream. Every year, my children look forward to picking out their funny Thanksgiving hat.

Get Some Air

People tend to eat a lot on Thanksgiving. Why not take a big family walk after dinner but before dessert? Get in some exercise, family time, and unplug from everything.

Write It Down

Instead of just saying out loud what you’re thankful for, have everyone write down what they’re more grateful for. Then you can put it in a big bowl, and people can pull out the slips of paper and then try and guess who wrote each one.

Give Something Back

It is the season to give thanks but also the season to give back. Volunteer as a family at a soup kitchen or sign up to with your children to do Toys for Tots to teach them about the season of giving. Another great idea is to ask your Thanksgiving guests to bring a non-perishable and/or canned good to donate to a local food pantry.

Run for a Cause

Get your Turkey Trot on! Raise money (and get healthy) while participating in a local turkey trot race. And get your kids involved, too!

Remember Loved Ones

Share special memories of those who have passed: stories that make you thankful for your family, both past, present, and future.

Pack Up Some Holiday Cheer

Not everyone is fortunate enough to be with their loved ones during the holiday season. Try putting together boxes for our military men and women to send overseas. Bring some joy to their holiday season.

Most of all, have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

The post 18 New Thanksgiving Traditions To Create For You and Your Children appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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