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Parenting Articles for Blended/step Families

In this section of Empowering Parents, we give stepfamilies advice on how to truly blend. Stepparenting is not easy. We have articles and tips for you that will help, including ways to make a stepfamily work. Advice from experts who have been there.
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Is Your Child Responsible Enough to be Home Alone? Dos and Don'ts for Parents

Is Your Child Responsible Enough to be Home Alone? Dos and Don'ts for Parents

Many parents are at a loss for what to do with their older children during the summer months – they may get the summer off, but you probably don’t. That leaves a whole chunk of time to fill each day. How do you know if your child is responsible enough to be left home alone? What if you know he isn’t, but he won’t stop begging to be in charge of his own schedule this summer?

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5 of the Hardest Things Parents Face: How to Handle the Most Challenging Parenting Issues

5 of the Hardest Things Parents Face: How to Handle the Most Challenging Parenting Issues

Watching my child struggle without stepping in to “fix” things for him was one of the hardest things I’ve personally experienced as a mom, even though I knew it was the best thing for him. And the truth is, from the very beginning, being a mother is a balance of taking care of your kids while letting them grow up and learn from their mistakes. Your role of simply loving and protecting your baby from pain and discomfort changes to one of accepting that your child or teen will need to experience natural consequences for his or her actions. The hard part (for them and for us!) is that these consequences almost always include some discomfort, disappointment or pain.

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Positive Parenting: 5 Rules to Help You Deal with Negative Child Behavior More Positively

Positive Parenting: 5 Rules to Help You Deal with Negative Child Behavior More Positively

Do your kids drive you crazy? If you were asked to describe them, after saying, He's a good kid, but... would you use words like “defiant,” “whiny,” “unmotivated,” “disrespectful,” “angry,” or “demanding,” with a few positives sprinkled in? If the negatives loom larger in your mind than the positives, the first thing to realize is that this is natural. We parents are human after all, which means we tend to look for what’s wrong with our offspring so that we can focus on what we should “fix” in them. Somehow this calms us down; we believe we are improving their chances of long-term survival in an often difficult world.

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Perfect Parents Don’t Exist: Forgive Yourself For These 6 Parenting Mistakes

Perfect Parents Dont Exist: Forgive Yourself For These 6 Parenting Mistakes

Guilt and parenthood just seem to go together. Maybe you lost control and screamed at your child today, or perhaps you’re struggling to give your kids enough—or you might be worrying that you’re doing too much. Whatever the cause, most parents experience guilt regularly. I’ve talked with so many people who were beating themselves up over something they’d done, sure they’d failed as a parent. But as James Lehman said, “It’s not about blame or fault; it’s about taking responsibility.”

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Stepchildren Making You Crazy? 5 Ways to Manage Conflict in Blended Families

Stepchildren Making You Crazy? 5 Ways to Manage Conflict in Blended Families

Recently, I was sitting at lunch with a friend, swapping stories about our families. I shared that I was concerned about how my adult stepdaughter was doing—she was facing a difficult situation thousands of miles away from home. “Well,” my friend said, “You don’t have to worry about that. You’re not her real mom.”

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When Parents Disagree: 10 Ways to Parent as a Team

When Parents Disagree: 10 Ways to Parent as a Team

Most couples have experienced this situation at one time or another—you think you should discipline your child a certain way, and your spouse wants to handle it differently. You each become entrenched in your position, and that’s when the fighting starts.

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Parenting After Divorce: 9 Ways to Parent on Your Own Terms

Parenting After Divorce: 9 Ways to Parent on Your Own Terms

Whether you are recently divorced or have been for some time, don’t be anxious that you have ruined your child’s life. You haven’t. While divorce can be a big part of your child’s life, what will determine his ultimate quality of life is still in the hands of each parent. Can children be affected negatively by their parent’s divorce? Most certainly. But it’s important to understand that children are not necessarily doomed to be negatively impacted.

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Blended Family? The 5 Secrets of Effective Stepparenting

Blended Family? The 5 Secrets of Effective Stepparenting

Parenting is never easy, but when you have a blended family—with bio-kids and stepkids, your spouse’s ex, and other extended family members thrown into the mix—things can get very difficult very quickly. We receive questions every week in Empowering Parents from readers who ask: “How can I discipline my stepkids effectively and get their respect? No matter what I do, they just won’t listen to me.” Carri and Gordon Taylor, nationally recognized experts on creating thriving stepfamilies, have answers that have worked for countless stepparents.

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“My Blended Family Won’t Blend!” Part II: What to Do When Your Stepkids Disrespect You

My Blended Family Wont Blend! Part II: What to Do When Your Stepkids Disrespect You

This is part 2 of a two-part series by James Lehman, MSW on Blended Families. In this article, James discusses the importance of respectful behavior in a blended family, and how parents can achieve this from all the children in the family.

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“My Blended Family Won’t Blend—Help!” Part I: How You and Your Spouse Can Get on the Same Page

My Blended Family Wont Blend—Help! Part I: How You and Your Spouse Can Get on the Same Page

“I don’t know what to do anymore,” said Jill, stepmother to two teen girls and mom to one biological son, aged 10. “My stepdaughters don’t respect me—I’m the ‘evil stepmother’ to them—and pretty much ignore whatever I say. And my son is constantly telling me that my husband isn’t fair, and that he treats him differently than he treats his two girls. Sometimes I get so exhausted by the whole thing I just want to get up and leave.”

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Does Your Child Say This? “You’re not my mom! I don’t have to listen to you!”

Does Your Child Say This? Youre not my mom! I dont have to listen to you!

When you’re raising or helping to raise a child that is not biologically your own, whether you’re a stepparent in a blended family, have adopted or foster children, or are bringing up your grandchildren, kids may sometimes use this fact against you during the heat of an argument. When a child says “You’re not my mom or dad,” what they’re really trying to do is take the power away from you. Focus on what your role is: caretaker. That means you should inform the child what the rules are in your house. The whole idea here is to avoid a power struggle. What the child is doing is inviting you to a fight. And remember, you don’t have to attend every fight you’re invited to. Avoid the power struggle, and calmly state what your role is and what the rules are. It’s very important that you verbalize no judgments about the biological mother or father. Judgments will only lead to more anger and resentment, which will lead to more power struggles.

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