“If children are not given opportunities to make adult choices and mistakes in childhood, you can be sure they will be making childish choices and mistakes in adulthood.”
~ Mary Bowles, MFT
Discipline in Bonus-Families
One thing that few people understand about blending families is that they are not made in a blender, they are made in a slow cooker...it takes time to blend a family and each person has his or her own pace. Forcing relationships tends to make people dig in their heels instead.
This is even more important as far as discipline is concerned. The older a child is, the longer time span before a step-parent, or "bonus-parent" as I like to refer to them, should begin disciplining him or her. Too soon and the child will show animosity toward the step-parent. Easing into disciplinary changes is easier for children. It allows them to build trust and rapport first.
The Gift of an Ordinary Day
Take a moment to watch this video, then go be present with your spouse and kids. Cherish those moments with them while they are young. They don't last long at all! Remember, you don't HAVE TO raise your children for 18 years, you GET TO, and you only get one chance, so do your best at every turn.
And, Remember to nurture your relationship with your spouse as your nurture your children. Treat your relationship like your first child and your sure not to be alone when the children move out on their own.
Help vs. Capability
As much as you want to help out of love and good intentions, as a parent, when you do too much for a child, a child does not actually think, "Wow, he/she must really love me!" Instead, what he or she begins to believe is, "Wow, he/she thinks I can't do anything!” This can lead to a child feeling incapable. I cannot stress enough; we experience pain for a reason. This is one way we learn...children too. We have to let our children struggle in order to learn they can flourish. It doesn’t make you a bad parent, it makes them more likely to become a happy productive adult.
Dad's can do hair too!
Dad's can do hair too! Does she look upset? No, she seems to be enjoying it AND she's not getting a brush yanked through her hair.
Moms, how would you deal with this?
It's important for parents to understand the importance of the balance that grows from a child's relationship with his/her father AND mother. Many Moms would FREAK by seeing this, but it's important to know, it's not wrong for THEM just because you don't like it...plus, it's likely to happen behind your back anyway. My suggestion: instead of "freaking out," leave the room and pretend you didn't just see this. This could be a very endearing event for both of them that could sustain their relationship for many years! If you try to control it, you are interfering with their relationship.
Are you perfect?
"If you are perfect, you can be assured your relationships are not!" ~ Mary Bowles, MFT
Parenting? Just Do Your Best!
Most parents work to make the best possible decisions where there kids are concerned. Rarely does a parent decide, "Now this kid, I'm going to screw this one up." Parents usually do the best they can with the tools they have available to them at the time. So if you're one that did your best, learn to let go of the guilt for the mistakes you made as a parent that you will never be able to change. Start today learning new tools, use them to the best of your ability, and expect you are going to make more mistakes, but you just keep doing the best you can. Guilt can truly leave you feeling depressed, anxious, and clearly unhappy, If you cannot change it, do you best not to make the same mistake in the future, and let it go. Continue to do your best. That's all you can do.
Every person has a story that creates within them a perception of the world and how to effectively respond to it. Respect the story you could not begin to know without asking directly and expect that you could not possibly ever know it all. Just knowing it's there can help you be more empathetic to those you just can't seem to understand.
Mary Bowles, PsyD, abd, LMFT
My blog posts are just some of the bits of information I find useful for some or all of my clients.