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blended family life

4 Tips For Helping Your Kids Adjust To Blended Family Life

blended family life

 

According to statistics, there are many more stepfamilies today than there were a decade ago. And the number is projected to grow steadily. It is, therefore, essential for you as the mom in a blended family to help the children make necessary adjustments because such situations hit kids the hardest.

Below are a few ways you can help the kids make the adjustments required for their new, blended way of life.

Helping Your Kids Adjust To Blended Family Life

Explain the unique situation to the kids

As mentioned earlier, kids are the most affected when their parents either die or get divorced. Therefore, it would be a good idea for you as the mom to make ample time and talk to the kids involved. Acknowledge the difficulties they are going through and give them a pat on the back for being so brave. Then assure them by promising to be with them every step of the way.

Knowing that they have a strong and understanding mom who is ready to help will make the adjustment much easier for the kids, whether they’re yours or not.

Acknowledge their losses and help them through it

Blended families come as a result of deaths, divorces, or nasty breakups. Once again, the kids are usually hit the hardest when they lose a parent (or both their parents). The latter explains why kids are often very reluctant to accept blended families. As a caring mother, or stepmother, acknowledging their pain and at the same time helping them through it will make the transition much easier for the kids.

Helping kids through their pain is easier said than done. Some kids will outright disrespect you or throwing nasty tantrums in the name of coping with their new situation. If the latter happens, then it would be in your best interest to seek professional help. Once you’ve helped the kids overcome their pain, they’ll gradually start warming up to the idea of a blended family.

Nurture existing relationships

Just because you’ve forged a new, complicated relationship doesn’t mean death to the old ties that existed before the blended family. Therefore, it would be a good idea for you and your children to keep your old family traditions. If you used to watch movies or go bike riding once a month, stick to doing that because it will only make the transition gradual and as natural as possible.

You can also encourage your new man to do the same with his kids since they need help as well. Afterward, you can slowly create and introduce new family traditions with the blended family without getting rid of the old ones. Feel free to set your nice alarm panel to remind you of the times you and your kids ought to be doing your usual activities.

Encourage respect

Respect is the glue that holds together all kinds of relationships. And since blended families happen to be complex relationship structures, the more you have to emphasize respect since everything can fall apart so easily. You can start by letting the kids know the importance of respecting each other’s boundaries as well as privacy. There should be consequences if anyone doesn’t recognize anyone in the new family setting.

A final word

Being a member of a blended family can be challenging, especially if there are more kids involved. Therefore, it would be in your best interest to try and approach the situation with a lot of care. Try listening to the kids and letting them know you’ll be there for them every step of the way. If it gets a bit difficult, then don’t hesitate to seek outside help.

Lastly, it’s essential to always remember it gets worse before getting better. Once the children know that the new blended system is meant for them to thrive, they’ll gradually warm up to the idea.

The post 4 Tips For Helping Your Kids Adjust To Blended Family Life appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Vacationing With Your Kids as a Single Parent

Vacationing With Your Kids as a Single Parent

Vacationing with your kids should be a highlight of the summer. Whether it’s simply relaxing close to home, seeing different parts of the country or world, or visiting friends and family, vacations are a time for families to connect and make new memories.

The post Vacationing With Your Kids as a Single Parent appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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introducing your kids to your new guy

5 Rules for Introducing Your Kids To Your New Guy After Divorce

introducing your kids to your new guy

 

One of the most common questions divorced parents ask me is: When should I be introducing a new partner to my children? My best answer is to take your time dating after divorce and don’t introduce your new love to your kids if you are dating casually. While it’s normal to seek solace, companionship, and a sexual relationship after a breakup, it’s crucial to take it slow so you can assess whether this relationship is casual or might be permanent.

When Introducing Your Kids to Your New Guy, Timing Is Key

The number-one thing to keep in mind when deciding when to introduce a new partner to your kids is timing after your divorce. What’s the hurry? Even if both of you are in love and seem to have a lot in common, breakups are common and kids get caught in the crossfire. Next, the setting and length of the first introduction is crucial to success. Meeting in an informal setting may help your kids feel more relaxed. Rather than planning a long visit, it’s best to have a brief, casual meeting with few expectations.

Another important consideration when introducing your kids to a new love interest is their age. Truth be told, younger children (under age 10) may feel confused, angry, or sad because they tend to be possessive of their parents. Renowned researcher Constance Ahrons, Ph.D., who conducted a 20-year study of children of divorce, concluded that most children find their parent’s courtship behaviors confusing and strange.

On the other hand, adolescents may appear more accepting of your new partner than younger children, but they may still perceive that person as a threat to your relationship. Dr. Ahrons also found that teenagers may find open affection between their parent and a partner troubling – so go easy on physical contact in front of them. Do you want your teenager to model their behavior after you? If so, you owe it to yourself and your kids to build new relationships thoughtfully.

Introducing a New Partner Can Be Painful If the Kids Are Hoping Their Parents Will Reconcile

I’ve witnessed many new relationships go sour when a partner is introduced to children too quickly. It can cause anguish for everyone – especially children who are probably holding on to the idea that their parents will eventually get back together. It may take time for your children to accept a new person in their life.

For example, Caroline, a 36-year-old teacher, described her new partner Kevin as thoughtful, affectionate, and a great match for her. They had been dating for a little over two months and she was head over heels in love with him. But she began questioning their relationship when her daughter Baylie, age eight, starting complaining about Kevin coming over – especially when his nine-year-old son, Ryan, came along for the visit. She didn’t understand why Baylie didn’t share her enthusiasm for Kevin because he was so perfect for their family.

As Caroline spoke, disappointment was apparent in her voice: “Kevin’s just so ideal for our family and I can really be myself with him. He has a son and is a great dad. I figured that Baylie would like him because he’s a lot of fun and I was blindsided when she started complaining about him.”

During our second session, I asked Caroline if she had thought through any disadvantages of introducing her daughter Baylie to Kevin so soon. She paused and said “not really” and so I asked her to write down a list of pros and cons for her homework assignment. When Caroline arrived for her next session, she reported that she was having second thoughts about whether she had rushed into including Kevin in so many activities with Baylie, and she realized that Baylie was seeing him as a rival for her attention.

Here are the 5 Rules for Introducing Your New Guy to Your Kids

  1. Timing is essential to healthy family adjustment after divorce. Children need time to adjust to their parents’ split and it can take a year or two for them to get over anger, sadness, and other emotions. If you introduce your children to someone who you are dating casually, this may complicate their adjustment to your divorce.
  2. Keep in mind that your kids may view your new love as a rival. Just because you are smitten with your partner, it doesn’t mean that your kids will share your positive feelings.
  3. Consider your children’s needs for security and reassurance. Introducing a new partner to your kids too soon can increase stress in the house and take energy away from your kid’s ability to grieve the loss of their intact family. Be sure to give your kids lots of reassurance that you have plenty of love to go around.
  4. Ask yourselfIs my love interest a good fit for my family? After all, you might have great chemistry with someone, but they might not be best suited to become part of your family.
  5. Invite your children’s feedback for ideas about how and when they meet your new partner for the first time. If you’ve been dating someone for a while and feel relatively confident that you are heading toward commitment, talk to your children and explain that you are dating someone who you care about and that you’d like to introduce to them. Ask them if they have any questions. Keep the first meeting short and low key. Going to a restaurant or neutral spot for the first meeting is best. Ask your kids where they’d like to go and don’t invite your partner’s children to join you on the first few visits.

Be sure to be careful about sleepovers with your partner when you have children living with you. It’s not wise to plan an overnight with your new love interest in your home right away because it can increase rivalry between them and your kids. If you co-parent, it should be easy to spend an overnight with them when your children are with your ex. Having your new partner spent the night should only be an option once you are fairly sure that your relationship is permanent or you are engaged.

Let your children know that you have an abundance of love to go around. It’s crucial that you assure your kids that your partner will not replace their other parent or change your relationship with them. Don’t be surprised if your children reject your new partner at first. Some kids express anger or defiance and may even threaten to move out – or go to live with their other parent full-time. Adopt realistic expectations about your children’s acceptance of your new partner. Just because you are enthralled with this person, it doesn’t mean that your kids will share your enthusiasm.

Wait Until Your Kids Have Healed from the Divorce Before Introducing Your New Partner

In sum, the key to successful parenting post-divorce is helping your kids heal from your breakup, and introducing them to a new love too soon might complicate, delay, or damage this process. You can simply tell your kids that you’re going out with a new friend and that’s enough information. Consider the amount of time since your divorce, the age of your children, and the level of commitment to your partner. Waiting on introducing a new partner to your kids will pay off for everyone in the long run.

This article first appeared on DivorceMag.com

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8 Life Lessons You Can Teach Your Kids During Divorce

8 Life Lessons You Can Teach Your Kids During Divorce

One of the most important things you can do is to maintain a good relationship with your children during and after the divorce.

The post 8 Life Lessons You Can Teach Your Kids During Divorce appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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529

A Divorced Mom’s Guide To Saving For Their Kid’s College

529

 

Are a you a single mom who puts the education of your children above your own retirement?

If so, you’re not alone. In a study referenced by Forbes, it was found that half of all single moms put their child’s education as their long-term financial priority, even above saving for their own retirement.

So, a lot of questions arise from the findings of single moms and their financial priorities. Why are divorced moms putting their kids’ college savings first when they are arguably a child’s priority?

Are there options for single moms that allow them to save for retirement and secure their children’s educational future?

What do most financial advisors recommend?

A Divorced Mom’s Guide To Saving For Their Kid’s College

Let’s dive in.

Divorced Moms Who Pay for Their Child’s Education Often Do So Out of Guilt

The above referenced study found that single parents are more likely to feel an obligation to help their adult children financially than traditional parents.

Often, single mom’s feel guilty about the divorce, not being able to spend as much time with their kids as they’d like (due to balancing careers), and because they want to give their child one less thing to think about in their future as they feel they have scarred them through the divorce.

So, what are the options for single moms to explore for a solid retirement and college savings balance?

Balancing Retirement and Your Kid’s College Fund

Most financial advisors would recommend that your retirement planning should come before that of your child. A couple of key reasons for this include the fact that retirement does not benefit from any federal loans whereas there are several ways to finance college. Further, tax breaks for investments are more generous than those for college savings, but there are ways to impactfully save for both.

What are the Best Options for College Savings?

Many single moms begin to consider their IRAs when thinking of ways to strategically pay for the education of their children. Turns out there is a much better way to save for both, and the college route generally involves what is called a 529 plan.

529 plans are qualified tuition plans and are tax-advantaged savings plans specifically designed for education-based saving. You have the option of two plans, depending on your ideal situation.

The first is prepaid tuition plans. These allow account holders to buy credits at participating educational institutions for the child’s future tuition.

The second college savings plan allows account holders to open an investment account that operates more like a traditional interest-bearing account, except directly aimed at educational savings.

Some of the benefits of a 529 plan include:

  • No dollar limit on contributions
  • You can use 529 plans to pay for elementary, middle, high school, or college
  • The ability to withdrawal the amount of any earned scholarships penalty-free
  • Protection from creditors in the event of a civil lawsuit, bankruptcy, etc.

Are there any negatives of a 529 for college savings?

There are some negatives to 529 plans. For starters, you can’t take income tax deductions for contributions, meaning you must pay federal taxes on the funds before adding them to the account. Another negative that is similar to many federal retirement plans is that you will be penalized if you withdrawal from the 529 account and don’t use the money for qualified education-based expenses.

What if My Child is Already College Age and I Don’t Have Savings?

While most financial planners would never recommend planning to use an IRA for college, there are some scenarios where it may be the only option. For example, if the divorced parent has not had time to contribute to a 529 plan, their sole option for helping their child may be to use their IRA.

The good news is that there are exceptions for IRA deductions specifically used for education expenses where no penalties will be incurred. This means you may be able to withdraw IRA earnings penalty-free, but not tax-free when you use the money for college.

This option, while not recommended, is ideal for single moms who have not planned on funding their retirement and saving for college.

In the perfect situation, a divorced mom will have multiple accounts set up to contribute to both their own retirement as well as the education of their children.

The post A Divorced Mom’s Guide To Saving For Their Kid’s College appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Tips to Connect With Kids Long Distance After Divorce

Tips to Connect With Kids Long Distance After Divorce

The best way to help children to adjust to your move after a divorce, is to inform him or her that you’ll do your best to keep your relationship the same. Also, reassure them of your love and devotion and say that you’ll visit as often as possible.

The post Tips to Connect With Kids Long Distance After Divorce appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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There is More to Taking Care of Kids Than Calculating Child Support

There is More to Taking Care of Kids Than Calculating Child Support

Of the many items divorced couples need to figure out — such as who gets the house, who keeps the expensive wedding gifts, calculating child support, and more — perhaps the most important decisions revolve around the kids Depending on their ages, they may or may not understand what’s going on, and, regardless, it will be a difficult transition for them as well.

The post There is More to Taking Care of Kids Than Calculating Child Support appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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post-divorce anxiety in kids

5 Ways to Ease Post-Divorce Anxiety in Kids

post-divorce anxiety in kids

 

The stress of a divorce can manifest differently in children, just as it does in adults, and your kids will naturally experience some anxiety during this tough transition.

Age can be a factor in how they handle the stress. They may have big concerns about changing residences or schools, or how the holidays will change with two households—and anxiety around everyday stressors like test-taking can be exacerbated during this time.

The good news is there are ways that you can help relieve the pressure and help remove some of your child’s post-divorce anxiety.

Ways to Ease Post-Divorce Anxiety in Kids

Get Your Kids Moving

Encourage the same stress fighting activities in your children that you need for yourself. Make sure your kids are getting regular physical exercise, which gives them physiological benefits such as an endorphin boost and reduced anxiety.

Regularly participating in an after-school or community sports program or dance class can help kids get their minds off the divorce or other situational stressors that cause anxiety. Regular exercise doesn’t need to be expensive – you and your child can take walks or go running together, or even try out instructional YouTube videos on aerobic activities like Zumba or cardio kickboxing.

Spending that time together also is a great way to check in with your child and offer the opportunity to talk about what’s causing them anxiety.

Test Time Can Trigger More Anxiety

The stress of a divorce can exacerbate the performance anxiety around testing that many children already have. Fear of failure can weigh on them heavily, particularly during a time when they may worry more about disappointing you.

Tests with higher stakes, such as final exams, can be even worse. Preparation is key. Talk with your kids and make sure you’re not making some of the most common mistakes on test day, such as not carefully reading directions. Prepping your kids before test day will help get them in the right mindset, as will a good night’s sleep and a decent breakfast.

Let them know your expectations are reasonable and that you’ll love them even if they fail. Knowing you’re there to support them will help ease the pressure.

Walk Through the Changes

If your divorce involves shared custody, your child may have some anxiety over living in two places. They may be getting used to a new room, a new house, or a new neighborhood in addition to the major changes in the family structure.

Whenever possible, involve your child in discussions about the new living arrangements. Let them help decorate their new bedroom, whether it’s choosing a new comforter or a paint color to help make it their own.

Ensure they have some familiar things in the new space, either permanently or in a bag that travels from place to place. Eventually, staying in both places will become a new kind of stability, especially when you help create a sense of normalcy and routine.

Keep a Lid on Conflict

Even the most civil of marital breakups has its moments where the soon-to-be-ex-spouses can’t agree. Even without arguing, the tension can be palpable. If you need to have it out with your ex, do your best to take the discussion out of view of your kids.

Never use your child as a go-between or an emissary. Parental conflict can make a child feel caught in the middle, and anxiety increases. Even parents who stay together can cause a great deal of anxiety in their kids if they display a lot of conflict, so take heart in knowing that even with the divorce, you can make things easier by keeping conflict out of view.

If conflict is unavoidable, be sure to give your children lots of emotional support following any confrontations.

Talk It Out

Sometimes kids might be afraid to talk about how the divorce is making them feel for fear of making things worse or causing you trouble. Be sure they know your door is open, and that they know their well-being is a top priority for you.

Ensure they understand that the divorce is not their fault—kids may internalize perceived actions and reactions, and feel guilty over the breakup. Let them know it’s okay to have a lot of different feelings, even positive ones, and help them articulate what they feel.

Their anxiety will lessen if they know it’s not wrong to feel or not feel a certain way, whatever that may be. They may have a lot of questions, and you should try to be prepared for ones about where they’ll live and how the divorce may impact their routine, even if the answer is “I don’t know yet.” You can assure them that you and your ex-spouse are working on all of the answers for them.

Divorce is highly disruptive to a child’s sense of stability, and assuring them you want to keep it as least disruptive as possible can help them regain some footing. Knowing that you’re a constant support in their lives can help them get through times when anxiety seems to grow.

The post 5 Ways to Ease Post-Divorce Anxiety in Kids appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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divorced dad

4 Things All Divorced Dads Should Do For Their Kids

divorced dad

Divorce is incredibly difficult, but it is important for you to keep in mind how your breakup is affecting your children.

As a father, the best interest of your children is always your top priority. You should never lose sight of that.

With that in mind, here are four things all divorced dads should do to help their kids adjust to their divorce.

Don’t expose them to any breakdowns

Two of the most common emotions associated with divorce are anxiety and depression. There is just so much emotional turmoil to overcome that it is impossible not to end  up a little stressed and sad.

It is critical to your well-being to avoid bottling up these emotions. That is one of the most self-destructive habits you can develop during this challenging time.

However, it is important that you find appropriate outlets to vent about those feelings. Reach out to family members and close friends. It is certainly worth looking into seeing a therapist to help you sort through what you are experiencing.

Do not, under any circumstances, use your children as a sounding board. This is already a heartbreaking process for them, and they should not be expected to talk you through your struggles.

This does not mean you should try to feign fake emotional strength. It is healthy to admit that you are sad to your kids and show your vulnerabilities, so that they know it is OK to feel that way too. But any emotional breakdowns you might go through should be away from their eyes and ears and in the company of a trusted confidant who is more emotionally equipped to help you.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Work with your ex to co-parent effectively

Children of divorce are at risk for a number of negative consequences, but those risks can largely be negated by having two active and involved parents involved in their lives.

Effective co-parenting requires clear communication, flexibility, patience, and a commitment to doing what is best for your children regardless of how you and your ex feel about each other.

This is obviously more challenging if there are hard feelings between you and your ex. A lot of couples are utilizing co-parenting counselors to help figure out this process.

“Co-parenting counseling is a specific kind of counseling intended to teach parents who are separated or divorced to communicate more effectively,” said Cordell & Cordell divorce attorney Jamie Spero. “The purpose of it is to talk about the kids’ best interest in a neutral environment with a neutral third party who has special training, and this person is supposed to help you learn to communicate more effectively, so you can co-parent your children easier.”

You might be in a spot where your ex is just too disagreeable to co-parent with. In these scenarios, it might be worth employing a parallel parenting model, which is designed for high-conflict couples.

Avoid bad-mouthing your ex in front of your kids

It does not matter how terrible your ex is, you should never speak ill of her in front of your children. Kids tend to idolize their parents and love them unconditionally. When they hear you breaking her down, it creates confusion and can result in a toxic relationship and even parental alienation.

Again, keep in mind that the best way for you to ensure your children avoid the negative effects of divorce is by ensuring they have a loving relationship with both you and their mother. The negativity between you and your ex should stay between the two of you.

Encourage your kids to talk about your divorce

Just like you, your children need to have a place to talk about the feelings they have about your divorce. Seeing their parents fall out of love and break up is confusing and can lead to heartache, anger, sadness, and a number of other unpleasant emotions.

You should communicate that it is OK for them to feel all of these things and make sure they know you are always available to talk if they need to. Understandably, they might not be comfortable opening up about some things with you, so you might need to find a teacher or counselor who can listen to your children and help them make sense what they are going through.

The post 4 Things All Divorced Dads Should Do For Their Kids appeared first on Dads Divorce.

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10 Co-Parenting Tips to Help Your Kids Thrive During the Holidays

10 Co-Parenting Tips to Help Your Kids Thrive During the Holidays

Show compassion for your kids if they seem stressed or worried about presents, holiday schedules, or other issues.  Assure them that you will help them to navigate through rocky patches and that it’s normal to feel stressed during the holidays.

The post 10 Co-Parenting Tips to Help Your Kids Thrive During the Holidays appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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