Help your Kids Understand the Divorce Better

CHILDREN-OF-DIVORCE

Help your Kids Understand the Divorce Better

In some households it may come as no surprise to the children that their parents are divorcing depending on the age of the children and the parent’s argument style, whether screaming matches out in the open or hushed voices in the evening after the kids have gone to bed. No matter their age and what’s going on, there are a lot of incidents and decisions that two people go through before they decide to get divorced. It is usually though not always a permanent move. How you tell them will affect their behavior and reaction and how they deal with things such as relationships when they get older. So the children need to be told about the divorce is an upfront and honest fashion. Depending upon their age, they may need more or less information and the message needs to be nuanced or simplified. Here are some ways to help your kids understand the divorce better. First, call a family meeting with both parents present. Parents often have a tendency to blame one another about the divorce when the ex-spouse isn’t around. But this strategy isn’t available at this time. Make sure you and your ex plan what you are going to say to them. Everyone should stay calm and composed. You should allow them to ask any questions they want and answer them as straightforward as possible. Make a plan to have a follow up meeting just to see how everyone is doing and if there are any other questions the want answered.

Many children just need to know the basics. Young children will want to know how it affects their life such as if someone will be there to help them with their homework, get them ready for school and tuck them in at night. They also should know that their relationship with both parents will only change. But both parents will still love them, listen to them, respect them and take care of their needs. The number one thing children need to know is that their parents will still love them. Some children think that a divorce happens as a result of some bad behavior they once exhibited. Children need to be reassured that it has nothing to do with them or something that they did. Instead, it’s a problem of parents not getting along. Make sure they know that they are not responsible. Really listen to what the children have to say. If they feel they aren’t being heard it seems to them that you don’t care. That’s the worst message for them to get. By listening to what they have to say it shows you are concerned about what they think and that you care. Realize that there may be some behavioral changes after divorce. Young children tend to get clingier while adolescents may feel abandoned or betrayed, and may act more independent or even rebellious. Younger children tend to blame themselves while older children, adolescence and teenagers tend to blame their parents.

For younger children, repeatedly tell them that it isn’t their fault. Take good care of them and show them that their needs will be met. Talk to them about their feelings, their fears and their thoughts and get a sense of where they are at. Be supportive of the children having a loving relationship with the other parent. Make sure you tell them who will be attending special occasions, such as if you are bringing a new boyfriend or girlfriend so it isn’t jarring. For adolescents, keep the lines of communication open. If they wall themselves up in their room try texting, emailing, calling and other ways to communicate to see if they feel more comfortable doing it electronically, or can express themselves more freely. Do not have your teenage son or daughter as a confidant. They are not old enough for that and it will whittle away at your parenting capabilities. Share these things with family and friends instead. Have or keep to certain family routines and rituals. Be open and be there for them if they wish to talk. Spend time with them, even if it’s just out to eat, a movie at home or an afternoon at the beach. Let them know time and again how much you love them. Also encourage a relationship with the other parent. For more on this topic, be sure to read Making Divorce Easier on Your Child: 50 Effective Ways to Help Children Adjust by Nicholas Long and Rex Forehand.

Blended and Step-Families Guide

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Blended and Step-Families Guide

A blended or a step-family that is two parents marrying each other each with children from a previous marriage isn’t easy, especially in the beginning. Understand that it takes time for a blended family to come together and working selflessly with patience, compassion, love and understanding will see that you all get through it, and that it does in time come together. Everyone’s life has been changed radically and everyone in the family, especially the children, have to find out where they stand, who they are and what role they will play. There are children who can be resistant to change. Parents can be frustrated that the new unit doesn’t mesh or jive like the old family used to. Of course everyone in the family will go through a period of adjustment and there will be growing pains. Still there are some things you can do to make sure that it’s as successful a transition as possible. Here is a guide to help you with your blended family or step-family situation. First, you have to lay the foundation. To do that, you need to slow down. After a painful divorce it can feel reinvigorating to have found love again. The tendency is to rush off and get married and put these two families together. But the truth is all parties should slow down and get to know one another first so that the process of blending isn’t so jarring to the two of you but particularly for the children. Children can become unsettled when experiencing too many changes at one time. Those blended families that wait two or more years after divorce to remarry are statistically the ones that have a better chance at staying together.

Some people expect to be a doting step-parent overnight. In fact, it takes time to build up a relationship with a child. Don’t push it or stress it. Instead, let it unfold naturally and be confident that it will happen in time. Taking the children on an outing say a picnic or a ball game is great. But start getting them used to everyday situations. Have dinner together on a meal cooked at home, watch a movie together or have a family game night. Before you marry talk in depth about your parenting style. Decide together how things are going to go such as bedtimes, homework, chores and more. Whatever changes are to be made should be initiated by the birth parent before remarrying, otherwise your children will resent the step-parent for bringing in these changes. However, if you merely say that you and your partner were discussing parenting styles and he or she mentioned something that you liked and wanted to put into effect, the resentment will be dulled if not nullified. Don’t let your new spouse nor your children put you in a place where you have to choose between them. That is an unfair position to be in and anyone who really loves you should understand that it’s unfair. Let them know that both people or sets of people are pivotal in your life.

Remember that they may not like each other in the beginning, and you can’t force like. But one thing you must expect is respect. Your children much respect your partner and vice versa. Everyone should expect and receive respect. Make sure the marriage is and stays solid. The marriage is the core of the family and without it this family can’t exist. Don’t let anything threaten it and keep it strong. Expect everyone to be civil. They may not have to like all of their new brothers and sisters but they must learn how to get along. The people in this new blended family all have different needs and are at different stages in life. We all have to honor each other’s differences and accommodate for them. They may even be at different stages of accepting the family. That is okay too. Allow them their choice and they’ll come to warm to the idea on their own, in time. Make sure all the children feel safe, secure, loved, seen, heard, valued and emotionally connected to you. Set boundaries and limits. Make sure everyone knows what the consequences are and stick to them. If you are the step-parent, in the beginning allow your new spouse to deal with the situation but be there for support and advisement. For more, read Stepcoupling: Creating and Sustaining a Strong Marriage in Today’s Blended Family by Susan Wisdom LPC, and Jennifer Green.

Avoid these little things that make a Lady Jealous

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Avoid these little things that make a Lady Jealous

Have you ever gotten a text from a platonic female friend and answered it too quickly, or laughed at a private joke too loudly and suddenly found yourself getting the evil eye? Lots of things guys think are innocent seem to make far more of an impact on the women they are with. Have you ever helped a girl with her math homework, killed a spider for that single mom across the hall, paid a compliment to a female friend or paid for drinks with a female colleague and made your main squeeze hot under the collar? Though it may not sound like it according to Vinita Mehta, Ph.D. a psychotherapist, “Jealousy is an emotion with a useful function. It helps preserve long-term relationships, which in turn promotes survival and reproduction. It’s technically called ‘evolutionary adaption.’” Jealousy helped our ancestors raise healthy young which in turn helped our species survive, and hard wired jealousy then into our brains. Dr. Mehta says that, “It’s a forceful emotion, which is why little things, such as a casual comment about another woman’s looks, intelligence, or personality, can make her feel threatened. And yes, if she already feels insecure about her looks and you compliment someone else’s looks, it cuts deeper.” So instead, learn how to speak womanese. It isn’t the easiest language to master. But here are some little things you can do to avoid making your lady jealous.

First don’t pay for things for other women, whether it’s an old friend or a colleague. Coffee, a cab ride or lunch can seem like a little thing to you but to your wife or girlfriend you may be setting off her wrath by triggering deep inherent forces. According to Tracy Thomas, Ph.D. a relationship expert, “Gender role orientation teaches women that, in order to survive, they need to ‘get’ a man for his resources.” Of course society has changed significantly. As Thomas puts it, “It’s irrelevant and outdated, but it’s natural, and that’s why we feel it.” It’s okay paying for something for a female friend here and there. But let your lady know why. Did something extraordinary happen? Did you and your colleague land a difficult account and you paid in celebration? Let your lover know that it isn’t a habit, just a one time or once in a while thing. Even be sure to mention if this colleague paid last time. Watch what you do on your social media sites. According to Mehta, “The online world tends to fan the jealous flames, as it were. She can unwittingly learn that you’re spending time with a ‘mating rival’ by ‘liking’ or commenting on that rival’s status.” Though it may not mean much, even if you are inadvertently liking a female friends status and commenting on it all the time, she may think you are investing in this other woman, not good. To counteract this show her how many other people’s statuses you like and comment on. You aren’t a flirt just a social butterfly.

If you make an observation about how fit the neighbor across the way is looking in a classy matter-of-fact manner it shouldn’t lead too much. But if your gal hasn’t had time to hit the gym and has gained ten pounds over Christmas, it could become a real issue. That’s because she’s feeling insecure about the very issue you are complimenting in someone else. Alicia Clark, PsyD. a psychologist says of this female phenomenon, “We’re threatened by the things we feel most vulnerable about.” Some of the items on this list for women are, “Our looks, our smarts, our attitude, our earning power—you name it, we can be sensitive about it. And what we’re sensitive about is exactly what we notice in others and feel threatened by.” The best way to avoid this one is to hold your tongue, and not compliment another woman like this in front of her. If you do get this sort of reaction however, it’s best when she’s comfortable and perhaps not defensive to find out what her insecurities are and why she feels that way. If you help strengthen how she feels about them then she won’t be so defensive, insecure and jealous and surely, she’ll be happier and a whole lot more fun to be around. Lastly, you can stick up for another woman in front of her. But if she thinks this gal is your number one you will turn from chivalrous knight to a backstabbing villain. Make sure you make her your number one and make her feel secure in your relationship and you won’t have jealousy problems, only a happy, supportive woman. For more on understanding women, read For Men Only, Revised and Updated Edition: A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women by Shaunti Feldhahn and Jeff Feldhahn.

Whip your Place into Date Ready Shape

Movie-at-Home

Whip your Place into Date Ready Shape

Going out is great. But it can put a damper on your budget. And who doesn’t like it when their date prepares a special meal by hand or snuggling up on the couch to watch a movie? Still, if you aren’t the type to keep your place immaculate and can’t afford a housekeeper, not to worry. You can do some fast and calculated operations to make the place look inviting and cozy, without screaming out that you’re a slob. Here’s how to whip your place into date ready shape. Guys, don’t let the smell of sweaty piles of laundry invade your living space. Do the laundry before you have a guest. Or get yourself a hamper with a lid if you’re short on time. A chenille blanket can make your simple couch look really nice. Get a small bunch of flowers and put it in a vase on the coffee table, kitchen table or dining room table. It shows that you’re willing to make an effort for your date. If you have a child, remove their toys, videos and video games from the living room and put them in their room. Of course they know you have children and hopefully your date loves your kids. But you don’t want these items ruining the atmosphere. Don’t leave out any risqué books and hide the relationship or self-help books.

Don’t leave financial papers out. Stash them away if you aren’t the type to file everything. You don’t want to send the message to your date that you’re not financially responsible. It’s bound to weigh on their mind and ruin the chemistry. Be sure to organize your fridge. Throw out anything that looks like a mad scientist’s lab experiment. Last thing you want is your date opening the fridge for something to drink and pass out from all the old takeout containers rotting on the racks inside. Make sure you have more than ice cubes and the light bulb when they arrive. Know their dietary likes, dislikes and requirements and be ready to whip up a snack should your tummies start grumbling. Make sure the bathroom is all squared away. Nothing is more of a turnoff than a bathroom that looks like a giant petri dish. Make sure the toilet and sink are definitely squared away. Prepare fresh towels. Be sure to have soap in the soap dish. You don’t have to have the shower spic and span. But it shouldn’t look like a gym shower either. Remember your date might peak. Don’t have dirty dishes piling up in the kitchen sink. Give your kitchen a once over. The right lighting, perhaps a few votive candles spread throughout the room, and the right music can do wonders for creating the right mood. For more date ideas, read Romantic Antics: Creative Ideas for Successful First Dates, Adventurous Saturday Nights, and Playful Long Weekends by Joy and Kevin Decker.

Laying Out a Great Dinner Date

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Laying Out a Great Dinner Date

If you’re a good cook and know how to lay on the ambiance, then the first dinner date at your place can be a great opportunity to show off your skills. But for most people, it can be a little nerve wracking. Will they like the food? Will you ruin the meal? What should you serve and what about laying out the table and so on? You want to set the atmosphere and leave them impressed, not running for the takeout menu. So how do you pull it off? Here’s how to do a great dinner date at your place, all laid out like the perfect table setting before you. First, you need to set the mood. And what’s more romantic than candlelight? You don’t need candelabra from the Liberache estate to build atmosphere. A couple of unscented votive candles, preferably the tall elegant ones, will add soft light and a touch of romance, while still allowing you to hold eye contact with your date. Don’t stop there. Make a nice centerpiece. Peonies are in. Place two or three in a vase. Or float the blossoms in a bowl of water. This move is classy, adds a beautiful touch but doesn’t cost a lot of time or money. Use a nice cloth table cloth and cloth napkins. It brings the meal from a dinner at home to a gourmet meal with your lover. What’s more romantic?

Wine is always a good choice. But if you want to set yourself apart why not meet them with a nice cocktail? Something sophisticated. If your date is female steer toward sweet drinks, a Cosmo perhaps. Gentleman may prefer a nice martini. Choose your wine carefully. You don’t have to spend a lot. There are perfectly delicious and classy wines to fit any budget. Typically, red wine is served at room temperature, or just slightly chilled. White wine is served chilled. Red wine goes well with red meat. Fish, poultry, vegetarian meals or pasta are more often paired with white. Make sure you know what your date prefers however. He or she may feel perfectly alright sipping a Riesling or Moscato over steak. When preparing the entre, pick something that is low effort yet looks impressive. You don’t want to work all day over a nice meal that your date turns their nose up at. A little discussion and paying attention to their tastes at other dinner or lunch dates can go a long way. Roast chicken is an easy thing to prepare. Cook it beforehand and just pop it in the oven when your date arrives. Make sure to stop by the bakery for the perfect dessert, or make a nice strawberry short cake, easy to make but impressive nonetheless. Bon appetit! For more ideas, read Dinner Dates: A Cookbook for Couples Cooking Together by Martha Cotton.