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Protect Yourself From An Unreasonable Ex

4 Ways To Protect Yourself From An Unreasonable Ex

Protect Yourself From An Unreasonable Ex

 

You’ve been through the divorce process, the paperwork is signed and it’s final. Time to move forward and put all that behind you, right? Not always! If your ex hasn’t been able to navigate the divorce in an emotionally healthy manner you may see a continuation of conflict long after the divorce is final.

An unreasonable ex-spouse, if intent, can cause life for you and your children to be miserable. Child visitation, child support, and following divorce decree orders are just a few tools at your ex’s disposal when it comes to prolonging conflict after divorce.

You may be unable to control their behavior but you can control your response to the behavior. Taking a proactive stance when dealing with an unreasonable ex will lessen the stress brought on by any irrational manipulations.

How to Protect Yourself From an Unreasonable Ex:

  1. Don’t engage in the conflict.

Engaging in the conflict only feeds the conflict. If demands are made and you defend yourself, you are playing the game and should expect an escalation of the conflict. If you receive nasty emails, threats of “taking the children away,” or anything that causes you concern and stress, don’t respond.

No response from you will stop your ex in their tracks. If they have no one to play with, the game is over.

  1. Don’t give in out of fear.

No one knows you better than your ex. That gives them ammunition to use against you. They know your weaknesses and fears and will push those buttons in an attempt to get what they want. There is no more powerful tool at their disposal when it comes to controlling you than your own fears.

Here is one way to view the situation when they do something that causes you fear. Their manipulations and attempts to control you by causing anxiety in you are a reflection of just how afraid they are of you.

Don’t allow THEIR fear to get the best of you and derail your ability to rebuild your life after divorce.

  1. Don’t concern yourself with what is said.

Words can wound and you can expect an unreasonable ex to use their words. They will tell anyone who will listen negative things about your character and behaviors. It is only human to want to defend yourself when lies are being spread but, it won’t put a stop to the lies. And, lashing out certainly won’t make you look like the reasonable of the two of you.

The most effective response you can give to an ex who vilifies and maligns you to others is compassion. Mean people are hurting people. The anger your ex displays toward you is an indication of how much pain they are in. Showing compassion instead of striking back enables you to rise above THEIR pain and regain power in your life.

  1. Don’t give into guilt.

If the divorce was your idea you may feel quite a bit of guilt and angst over your decision. If, however, your decision to divorce was in your best interest you don’t want to allow those feelings of guilt to hold you back from moving forward.

It isn’t easy to hear how a decision you made hurt another person. Your ex can easily draw you into their pain by expressing the negative impact your decision had on them, how “nothing will ever be OK again.” An ex who brings their pain to you isn’t attempting to gain sympathy, they are attempting to cause you to feel the same pain they feel. You hurt them, they want you to hurt!

Guilt is the result of not doing something instead of doing something wrong. If you put a full-faith attempt in saving your marriage before deciding to divorce, you’ve done nothing wrong. You have nothing to feel guilty about!

Show your ex compassion, once again, but don’t give in to feelings of guilt or shame because you aren’t responsible for their pain.

The main focus of an unreasonable ex is to keep you engaged in a relationship that has legally ended. To disengage and move on with your life you will need to recognize certain behaviors for what they are, attempts to pull you back into a relationship you’ve already decided was not right for you.

The post 4 Ways To Protect Yourself From An Unreasonable Ex appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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the key to success in second marriages

Positive Ways Of Relating: The Key To Success in Second Marriages

the key to success in second marriages

 

Most likely, when you remarry you’ll feel excited about having a second chance at happiness. However, both partners might hold unrealistic expectations that things will run on automatic and love will conquer all problems. Being aware of potential communication differences and barriers to positive ways of relating can help you stay strong and resilient as you navigate the challenges of remarried life.

For instance, we all have a unique style of communicating based on our upbringing, culture, personality, gender, and past relationships. Maybe one of you is extroverted and the other is more reserved. These differences in personalities can cause significant misunderstandings and become potent filters or lenses for how you see and interpret your partner’s behavior.

It’s also true that in a second marriage, couples bring styles of communicating based on their first (or second marriage), and their way of relating to their ex-spouse, that may become deeply ingrained and thus more difficult to alter. Over time, the challenges of living in a remarried or blended family may accentuate conversational differences – especially if one or both partners have unresolved trust issues.

The Key To Success in Second Marriages

For instance, Pam and Dave, both in their late fifties, remarried for fifteen years, and living in a stepfamily, grew up in vastly different cultures. Pam describes her family as loud and expressive, while Dave’s family is reserved and stoic. During our in-depth interview, Pam said she found these differences interesting in the early stages of their marriage, but they began to irritate her after several years of living together.

Pam explains: “Because I was raised in an Italian family that had poor boundaries, my tendency is to say what’s on my mind. Dave, on the other hand, usually weighs out what he is going to say and has a good internal filter. It’s also hard to know what he’s thinking because he shuts down a lot. The problem is that we can both be judgmental and we have misunderstandings and disagreements because we don’t trust each other.”

During our interview, Pam and Dave both acknowledged they had trust issues from their first marriages that were filters for how they interpreted each other’s comments and behavior. For instance, Pam’s ex-husband left suddenly to move in with a co-worker. After Dave’s divorce, he discovered that his ex-wife cleaned out their savings and had been hiding credit card debt that he was unaware of.

Dave: “Honestly, Pam can be a bit harsh and blunt at times. I grew up in New England and my family is private – we believe that it’s best not to disclose much about yourself. But I learned from my first marriage that communication is important so I’m trying to open up. I have some trouble with Pam’s intrusive communication style but I love her and I think loving someone is what matters in a marriage.”

Pam responds: “We have similar interests and taste in entertainment, movies, and music. We also have similar occupations and love to travel.  I’m learning to deal with unrealistic expectations and accepting Dave for who he is. When Dave shuts me out, it sounds like an echo from my first marriage (when my ex pushed me away) but Dave is not him.

Common Misunderstandings

Many remarried couples have established an unfortunate pattern of disagreeing over trivial matters because of the high level of stress in their lives. Seasoned remarried couples will tell you that even the happiest partners will have problems. In remarried families, there are many issues that first time married couples don’t face, such as adding children to the mix – yours, mine and ours. Couples also argue about finances, housework, in-laws, and disciplining children.

Take for example this conversation between Pam and Dave after a long workday. Their dialogue illustrates the inconsequential nature of most arguments between remarried couples. Couples often fight about nothing. Most of their disagreements arise out of differences of opinion about unimportant matters such as making dinner or chores. They both admit that their raw spots from their first marriage set the stage for feelings of vulnerability, defensiveness, and fear of rejection.

Dave: “What kind of pasta should I make tonight?”

Pam: “Tortellini, what else?”

Dave: “What do you mean, “What else”?”

Pam: “Well, we usually have tortellini but I guess I could make something else.”

Dave: “Does that mean you don’t like the way I make it?”

Pam: “No. I like it but go ahead and make something else.”

Dave: “Not if you want tortellini to go with the red sauce.”

Pam: “I don’t. Make ravioli tonight.”

By this dialogue, you can see how Pam and Dave’s difficulty being clear and misreading each other’s intentions set the stage for a disagreement. When Pam added the tag onto her response “What else?” the meta-message (or underlying meaning) was “You’re a jerk for asking, you should have known.” Understandably, Dave could interpret Pam’s comment as critical and demanding (she wanted him to read her mind) and lacking in directness and clarity.

In That’s Not What I Meant! author, Deborah Tannen, Ph.D. explains, “Things seem to get worse in close relationships that continue over time because we don’t realize that communication is inherently ambiguous and that conversational styles differ, so we expect to be understood if there is love. When misunderstandings inevitably arise, we attribute difficulties to failure: our own, or the others, or a failure of love.”

The story of Pam and Dave illustrates how unresolved differences can drive a wedge between remarried couples if they’re not repaired.

The following are three tips to use to improve your communication.

  • Decide together to make a face-to-face twenty to thirty-minute stress-reducing conversation happen daily. In The Seven Principles that Make Marriage Work, Dr. John Gottman explains that this conversation can help you feel more attuned with each other.
  • During this conversation (and at other times) acknowledge and show affection and appreciation for each other. A three-second kiss, holding hands, or cuddling on the couch will help you stay physically and emotionally connected. Be sure to show appreciation by pointing out something your partner does that you love. For example: “I love it when you make me a fresh cup of coffee every morning!”
  • Practice active listening and validation. Put your own agenda aside and suspend your worries and concerns about your own life while you focus on what your partner has to say. Giving your partner feedback will validate that you’re listening and that you understand and want to be close. For instance, you might say “It sounds like you had a tough conversation with your boss, that must have been disappointing since you worked so hard on that project.”

Keep in mind that active listening isn’t the same as advice and that it may take you a while to get used to this way of communicating. Most people rush in to offering solutions and solving problems and skip over listening and validation. You can strengthen your remarriage by improving your communication and making a commitment to learning more about each other every day!

 

Follow Terry Gaspard on TwitterFacebook, and movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-lasting Relationship was published by Sourcebooks in 2016.
More from Terry

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reduce costs during divorce

Ways To Reduce Costs During Divorce

reduce costs during divorce

 

If you thought the wedding was costly just wait until the divorce! Though the cost of a divorce can widely range, the average cost is anywhere between $15,000 and $25,000. There is also a huge emotional cost to bear on yourself and your family.

Luckily there are some steps you can take to ease the process on yourself and on your wallet and reduce costs during divorce.

Do your own research, use a lawyer only when necessary

The first step is to do your own thorough research. There are many free resources out there that can give you an edge in your case. For instance, you can find your state’s laws on divorce and understand procedures that must be followed. Know what will be in store for you during the divorce process so you can prepare.

This new found knowledge will not only help you communicate better with your lawyer but also with your spouse when negotiating. It will also help you to better budget when you know what costs you are about to incur.

Though hiring a lawyer may be smart in most cases keep your use of them to a minimum. Lawyers can quickly become expensive especially if you have hired one who works on an hourly wage versus a retainer. Your lawyer may seem like the perfect to person to vent to about your marital issues and while they may offer you some real advice it will certainly not be for free. Additionally, if you have a simple question that can be found online do not waste your time or money seeking this answer from your lawyer.

Be open-minded and do not let your emotions steer you

Of course, going into the divorce process you will have some ideas of what you want and what you think you deserve. But you should not by any means refuse to budge on these concepts. Your spouse is going to go into the process with certain demands as well but you will not be able to achieve anything if you are not willing to compromise. This will also help you save money by shortening the amount of time it will take to sort your issues out.

Furthermore, divorces are a particularly personal subject which means it will be an emotional one. Whether it is only property that needs to be decided or there are children in the mix it will be hard to take an objective perspective on the process. However, the less you let your emotions influence you the easier the process will be in the long run.

Maintain an amicable or working relationship with your ex

This can help significantly with your divorce though it is not always possible in reality. Part of this falls under the same category of relying less on your lawyer. The more details you and your spouse can work out privately the less time you will have to spend going through the same issues with lawyers. Just be sure that you both agree on the issues so there is no misunderstanding later on.

Moreover, divorces are never exactly fair but having an amicable relationship with your ex can help ensure that it is as close as possible. Though your marriage may have not worked it does not mean that the end has to result in catastrophe. It can also help to ease the pressure on children and other family members when going through this difficult time.

Uncontested divorces will save you a large chunk of money in the long run. Additionally, if you and your spouse are open to it, you can explore the possibility of a collaborative divorce which will involve group meetings rather than having adversarial lawyers. This is a great option if it is only the bigger issues you and your spouse are having trouble deciding. All of these routes will save you precious time and money.

Know your finances

If your husband has largely handled most of the money during your marriage it is time to become educated about your finances including your assets and debts. Try to keep track of important records such as tax returns or insurance policies. Otherwise obtaining duplicates may cost you. It will also save you from having to pay your lawyer to spend his or her time finding these types of documents.

If the case proceeds to court it is very important to know your income and report it accurately otherwise you will cost yourself more in the end. If the truth is withheld in court the judge can impose large fines or penalties.

You should also keep track of your finances regarding your lawyer. You should know what each item on your invoice is for and why you are paying for it. Make sure that the bill matches what you have previously agreed upon and that you are not being cheated. While sometimes it can be a simple clerical error it can save you hundreds. Your attorney may charge less for an email versus a phone call so make sure you are clear on this before you choose which you will pursue.

Keep litigation as a last-ditch effort

Lastly, avoid litigating your divorce at all costs. Litigating can be very expensive especially compared to the other options outlined and it may not give you the verdict you desire. Taking your divorce to court will cause the process to be significantly lengthened thus costing you more money in the end.

Other than being lengthy, court can be a very public option exposing you and your family to unwanted attention. It is important to note that litigation should only be used when all else fails because when the case is decided in court it is final. What the judge says goes and you no longer have a say in your personal affairs.

Overall, you should be well educated about the divorce process before you choose a lawyer or your method to resolve your marital issues. Having prior knowledge is the best way to save your time, money and emotional state. Best of luck.

 

The post Ways To Reduce Costs During Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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save money as a single mom

12 Ways to Save Money as a Single Mom

save money as a single mom

 

Raise your hand if you’re a single mom and you want to know how to save money. Budgeting can be expensive for two or more if you’re the only breadwinner.

It can be overwhelming to manage your funds, especially if you have no idea where to start. But the good news is that we have heard your prayers and we’ve got 12 tested ways to help you as a single parent save money.

How to Save Money as a Single Mom:

1. Sort your Bills

An enormous number of bills can be overwhelming to sort through if you let them pile up. It’s wise to organize your bills according to criteria so that you know the exact amount that you owe and to whom. Try and pay off each bill as they come so that you don’t get tied down with paying a bunch of them at once.

2. Recognize the Bad Egg

Remember that gym subscription that you really wanted and never used? Or that arts and crafts class that your child despises? Let’s face it, they’re a waste of money.

It’s very important to know the difference between something that adds value to your life and something that is just siphoning your money away for no good reason.

Sorting out the bad from the good, and closing accounts or ending subscriptions that you don’t lose can save you plenty of money in the long run.

3. Budgeting 101

Budgets? They’re boring but necessary. Keeping your monthly spending in check can be tough but its a great way to keep an eye on what you’re spending, as well as what you can cut down on.

You can start small with budgeting. It’s wise, to begin with, a weekly budget, and once you get a hold of it, monthly ones will be easy-peasy.

4. A Savings Account Saves the Day

Savings accounts don’t sound appealing because you only live once right? Wrong. With a child, you need to be able to prepare for a rainy day. You never know when you may have to splurge on a new uniform or an unexpected doctor’s visit.

Set aside an amount each month that you can afford to save and set up a direct deposit or standing order to transfer it into your savings. Within a few months, you’ll already have a sizeable amount you can rely on in times of crisis.

5. Paid Bills and Overdue Smiles

Have you been missing out on time with your kids because you’re too busy paying bills?

Mothers, don’t sleep on your bills. Rather pay them off immediately if you have the option as this will maintain a good credit record. It will also give you a sense of freedom and more quality time with your kids.

6. Don’t Borrow Liabilities

Loans become a necessity when you have growing expenses. As a single mother, there are responsibilities that you have to carry out and borrowing can be inevitable.

However, only borrow what you need and not what you want. If you can’t afford a new dress or a new coffee machine, don’t buy one until you can. Loans should only be for absolute necessities.

Make sure that you have read the small print and know all the terms and conditions about interest rates, deadlines and the source you are borrowing from.

7. Solo is your New Yolo

Joint ventures may have been a good idea but so is cutting ties when it no longer serves your purpose. Opting out from all joint ventures, such as joint bank accounts, with your ex should really boost your savings and leave you plenty of breathing room.

We know its hard to manage everything on your own, but it’s not impossible.

8. Low Prices Exist

As a buyer, you are obliged to pay whatever the price tag says. But you don’t have to pay the first price you see.

You can hack your growing spending in the craftiest of ways. Online platforms are amazing if you just take some time to see what’s on offer.

Using price comparison websites and doing research online can bring up all sorts of deals on the same or very similar products. See what’s out there before you commit to the first price.

9. Thrifts are Canny

Second-hand shops aren’t really for everyone – especially with the raving fascination for Gucci and Prada. However, stylish doesn’t have to mean expensive.

You would be amazed at the awesome clothes and other accessories you can find in thrift stores for you and your kids at hugely discounted prices. Once you go thrift, you never go back.

10. Meal Prep and Weekends In

Eating out is convenient and tempting, but cutting down on these little dinners out can save you loads of money. While cooking in and preparing meals can take a hefty amount of your time, it’s rewarding and you can be sure of what you and your kids are putting into your bodies.

Both your health and your purse will benefit.

11. Discounts and Coupons are Class

Discounts and coupons are a lifesaver when it comes to saving money as a single parent. Collecting them and being on the lookout for promo codes can be economical.

Keep an eye out for coupons in store, in magazines and online coupons to get discounted prices on groceries, clothing and even haircuts.

12. Honesty is the Best Policy

As an adult, it’s your job to provide for as well as discipline your kids Be vocal and firm about saying no to your kids. Explain the importance of savings to your child. The best way to save some cash is through communication and teamwork.

Final Reflection

Getting your finances in check as a single mother can be really tough at first. Whether you are a newly single mom or have been for a while, budgets and healthy finances are the new normal.

The most important way to start is by setting small goals, motivating yourself and not surrendering to temptation.

It will be hard but with trial and error, you definitely can and will rock the life of a money-savvy single mother with a little perseverance.

The post 12 Ways to Save Money as a Single Mom appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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ways to tell if his affair is over

10 Ways To Tell If His Affair Is Over

ways to tell if his affair is over

 

Your husband had an affair. He says it is over and the two of you have decided, together, to put the marriage back together and work at rebuilding trust. For this to happen he will need to break off all contact with the other woman. He will need to prove to you that his affair is over

Since you’ve lost total trust in him, the last thing you trust him to do is, anything. For that reason below is a list of things you can request he do to prove that he has broken off contact with the other woman and doesn’t intend to see her again.

5 things to do to ensure he isn’t having contact with the other woman and the affair is over.

  1. Tell him you want access to his phone, email accounts, and social media accounts. That would mean him sharing his passwords with you and you being able to check those accounts at your will.
  2. Ask him to email her, in your presence, and tell her that the relationship is over. He needs to be specific about the fact that there will be no further contact via text, phone, and email or in person. Once that is done monitor his email account for any response from her. If she responds it is within your right to reply and let her know that she can no longer interfere in your marriage.
  3. Watch him as he deletes her number from his phone and her address from his email account. You will also want him to remove her from any social media connections. When possible on email and social media insist that he block her from being able to contact him.
  4. For added protection, you can insist he change his email address and his phone number. Make sure that his old email account is deleted and that you have access to his new account. Once he has a new phone number check your account with your cellphone provider for her number to make sure she doesn’t have access to the new number and communication is continuing.
  5. If he and the other woman work together tell him that you want proof that they have limited contact at work. If that entails him exposing the affair to his boss, so be it. If he was concerned about his reputation at work he wouldn’t have started an affair.

Some experts advise women to not put too much pressure on their husband. I’m not sure how trust can be rebuilt until you are 100% sure the affair has ended and, in some situations that may mean him doing things that he finds uncomfortable.

If your marriage is going to survive his infidelity the goal has to be to heal the wound to the marriage. You can’t begin to heal that wound until the other woman is totally out of the picture. Don’t be surprised if he finds it hard to cut her off completely. It may take a few stops and starts for him to be able to break away cleanly.

How to tell he is no longer in contact with the other woman:

  1. When he is willingly engaging in honest discourse about the affair and what needs to be done to restore the marriage and your trust in him.
  2. He isn’t dismissing your feelings about the affair and your need to talk about those feelings. By being willing to listen and validate your feelings he is taking responsibility for his hurtful behavior.
  3. The two of you have identified issues in your marriage that need to be fixed and are actively working, together, to make those changes.
  4. You are both focusing on what makes the other happy.

Rebuilding trust after an affair takes time. It comes one step at a time. Be patient with yourself and him. You will be able to tell in your gut whether or not you are both on the same page when it comes to saving the marriage.

The post 10 Ways To Tell If His Affair Is Over appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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The Ways in Which a Narcissistic Father Can Harm His Children

The Ways in Which a Narcissistic Father Can Harm His Children

We take our mom and dad for granted; like this must be what it’s like for everyone. Your dad may have been narcissistic, but you just assumed that all fathers were like him.

The post The Ways in Which a Narcissistic Father Can Harm His Children appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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become financially smarter

4 Ways Divorced Moms Can Become Financially Smarter

become financially smarter

 

During my work with women who were going through or recovery from divorce one of the most frustrating aspects of the work was their attitude towards money. I’ll go out on a limb and say that one of the main stressors for women after divorce is money.

Yet, when asked what their plans were for relieving their stress over money, the majority didn’t make that a priority in life.

I worked with clients who had been long-term stay-home-moms, their only financial plan for the future was to live on child support and alimony. They were doing without; their children were doing without and the main concern for these women was not having to make a change in their role as a stay-at-home mom.

They feared working or building a career for themselves would be too disruptive for their children without acknowledging how being stressed for money was damaging their children. The only role money took in their lives was the lack of money.

When asked what their plans were for when their children reached the age of majority and child support stopped or, alimony was no longer coming in, I got shoulder shrugs in return or, “I’ll figure it out.”

Sorry, but the time to figure it out isn’t then when you have even less money than you have now.

A recent Prudential study on the “Financial Experience & Behaviors Among Women” shows, unfortunately, that women have not come a long way when it comes to money. Women feel no more prepared to make smarter financial decisions today than they did three years ago — or even a decade ago.

And, based on my experience with divorcing clients they’re not prepared to make smart financial decisions when smacked in the face with divorce and the possibility of living in poverty.

Divorce doesn’t mean remaining financially dependent on a man you are no longer married to. Divorce not only legally ends your relationship with your husband, but it also sets a woman free to make her own way in the world and, to do that she must be able to make her own money and smarter financial plans for herself now and down the road.

If you’re divorced and reluctant to go back to work or, fear what the future holds for you financially here are 4 tips to help you become financially smarter.

Get educated: Learning about money is important, and the more of a role you take, the more enjoyable it becomes. You may consider taking a few classes in finances at a local college, university or online.

This might be a little extreme but, I can guarantee that you will be better off if you start to get a handle on your finances. There are hundreds of books, podcast, blogs, and videos that can help you gain a better understanding of your personal finances. We can’t “stay dumb” about money. It limits our options in the world, not to mention feelings of self-worth and competency.

Track and budget: In order to make smart decisions about your money, you have to understand where your money is going. Start by tracking your expenses for one to two months. Once you see where your money is going, you can start to weed out the unnecessary expenses. Use this information to create a budget that reflects your needs instead of your wants.

To help make tracking and budgeting easier, you can download smartphone or tablet apps such as Mint, GoodBudget, and Expensify. Creating and keeping your budget is one of the simplest ways to not only learn about your finances and spending habits but to be more informed and involved so that you can make smart decisions about money.

Start saving now: Retirement might seem like an eternity away, especially for women in their 20s, 30s and even 40s, but saving for it is incredibly important for financial security. The earlier you start saving for retirement, the better your financial picture will look in the future.

If you work and your company offers a 401(k) plan or 403(b), make sure you contribute as much as you can. This is especially important if they offer to match your contribution. Remember, this is essentially free money going into your retirement account. If your company doesn’t offer a 401(k) or 403(b), consider opening a traditional or Roth IRA. The sooner you start saving, the longer you are allowing your money to grow.

Get a job: Unless you’re wealthy or a movie star, your economic level will decrease as a result of divorce. The same income that used to run one household is now running two. You’re going to need to supplement the income from child support and alimony with earnings of your own.

If you worked in the past, re-enter your career field. If you don’t have a work history but skills that make you marketable, make a list of those skills, build a killer resume and start networking. If you have no marketable skills, it’s time to get a degree or take courses that will help you become more marketable in today’s job force.

Women can be very smart with money. All we need to do is start getting in the game and stop believing that financial issues are too complicated for us to understand.

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Improve Your Relationship With Your Stepchildren

4 Ways To Improve Your Relationship With Your Stepchildren

Improve Your Relationship With Your Stepchildren

 

Are you struggling in your relationship with your stepchildren?

Do you wish you could forge stronger ties in your stepfamily?

It is possible! Often, we as stepmoms focus on the negative behaviors in the home and how they are disrupting our family stability and building process. But what if we changed our tune and encouraged positive behaviors instead?

How to Improve your Relationship with your Stepchildren

1. Encourage dad to spend time with his kids independent of you

As children experience the divorce and remarriage of a parent, their most oft-repeated concern regards how it will affect them. Perhaps their custody situation will change, maybe a new school is on the agenda, or even a long-term change of address is in the future. Despite these changes, it’s important that the child’s relationship with their biological parent stay intact and does not suffer through the inevitable changes associated with the changing family dynamic.

One of the most definitive ways to ensure continuing strong bonds between the child and the parent is to establish time for them to bond alone. While you as stepmom are part of the newly created family, it is not necessary for you to take part in every child-related activity just to show your interest. Giving your partner time alone with his child acknowledges that you see the importance of that relationship and support it fully.

Encourage your partner to plan activities that he and the kids enjoy together. It may involve a sporting activity or simply a trip out for ice cream. Make it clear to the kids that you are in on the planning and look forward to hearing about it when they return.

2. Don’t overstep your boundaries

It’s important to work with your partner on establishing boundaries in your home. Early on you must determine what your role will be even if that role changes over time. However, keep in mind that whether you are a custodial or non-custodial stepmom will decidedly point you in the direction of the essentiality of your involvement. The demands placed upon a custodial stepmom are far different than those placed upon a non-custodial mom. Children that live with you full-time will naturally gravitate towards you for more of their daily needs.

Do you help create the rules? Do you dole out punishments? Do you attend parent/teacher meetings? Knowing where your input is needed and in fact, necessary, is a first step in accessing your involvement in the lives of your stepchildren. Have this discussion with your spouse, early and often, no matter whether the kids live with you full time or not.

3. Support their activities

I think one of the most powerful bonding experiences in the stepfamily that I created was my attendance at my stepchildren’s activities. I sat on the bleacher’s for umpteen volleyball matches, including those when daughter number two was part of a traveling team. I trekked the roads with both boys’ and girls’ basketball teams. I experienced the agony of sunburn from sitting outside at four-hour golf matches. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Those activities created great memories for our family.

What’s more is that the kids are proud of the beginnings of our stepfamily. When our younger daughter met her now husband a few years back, she recounted how kid activities were how her dad and I spent our early dates. However, I didn’t realize then how important those early dates were not just to my relationship building with their dad but with all three of my stepchildren.

In other words, just do it.

4. Be willing to be their friend

“I have no intention of being my kids’ friend. I’m their parent.” Well-said. However…

Kids know what remarriage brings….another parent. Not necessarily what they may see as a real need in their lives, especially if there are already two involved parents in the picture. But no one can ever have too many friends.

And that is where a stepmom can step up to the plate.

Merriam-Webster.com defines friend as “one attached to another by affection or esteem.” Seems simple enough. I think you build the aforementioned attachment by listening to one another, doing things together and learning about one another’s way of life. This is the perfect role for a stepmom who wants to support and protect her stepchildren while creating a new family structure. It’s also an enduring connection that can grow and take other forms as you work to create deeper understandings of each other.

The post 4 Ways To Improve Your Relationship With Your Stepchildren appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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