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Parenting Articles for Other Non Traditional Families

Are you a parent in a non-traditional family? Help for grandparents raising grandkids, stepfamilies, single parent households, and more.
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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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Parenting Your Adult Child: How to Set up a Mutual Living Agreement

Parenting Your Adult Child: How to Set up a Mutual Living Agreement

“I love my son, but things are getting really rough. I never expected him to still be living at home in his twenties. I don’t mind helping him while he gets on his feet, but most of the time he acts like he’s still thirteen – and he’s twenty three! This is not what I pictured!”

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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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The Single Parent Juggling Act: 5 Tips to Help You Manage

The Single Parent Juggling Act: 5 Tips to Help You Manage

There’s a famous quote about Ginger Rogers that says, “She did everything that Fred Astaire did, only backwards.” In some ways, being a single parent is similar, except you’re doing everything other parents do, onlysolo.

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Sandwich Generation Stress: 6 Ways to Cope While Raising Kids and Caring for Elderly Parents

Sandwich Generation Stress: 6 Ways to Cope While Raising Kids and Caring for Elderly Parents

Welcome to the “Sandwich Generation.” There’s almost nothing more draining, stressful, emotional and guilt-inducing than caring for an elderly parent or relative while raising kids. I know what this is like because I’ve been there myself—and my life’s work has been devoted to helping people who are caring for elderly or sick relatives. If you are in this situation right now, you’re probably feeling pretty overwhelmed and alone.

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Raising Grandkids: What to Do When the Honeymoon Ends

Raising Grandkids: What to Do When the Honeymoon Ends

Jan is a sixty-five-year-old grandmother who was given custody of her two grandsons, aged 8 and 15, after her daughter was jailed for drug abuse. “At first, it was a joy to have them in our house,” said Jan, whose grandchildren came to live with her one year ago. “They seemed so happy to be here. But then the real problems started. Now, my older grandson either just plain ignores me or he talks back—and I don’t know which is worse.The younger one is starting to follow suit. I’m starting to wonder where we went wrong.”

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You Can Make Time for Yourself

Blogger I am the type of person that wants it all, and I want it all NOW. This mentality makes me feel like I’m perpetually chasing a bus I cannot catch, no matter how fast I sprint.  Some days, it feels like an enormous task to just get everyone fed and into bed at the end of the day! As parents, we have a huge weight on our shoulders every single day.  I know you are busy. I get that you are often overwhelmed. I can appreciate that you just want a hammock somewhere on quiet beach. I do, too. But, what are you doing these days just for you? To take care of yourself?  To climb into that hammock, so to speak?  When’s the last time you got off the merry-go-round that is your life and made time for yourself? Think that’s impossible? I’m here to tell you it’s not. Back when my boys were in preschool, I knew I needed something more. I had a full-time job in advertising, a more than full-time job raising my sons alone and a house with a yard to maintain, but my soul yearned for more than this. After leafing through a catalog of writing classes one day, I later found that I just could not drop the fantasy of signing up for something. The class I wanted to take met on Monday nights across town for six weeks. The boys’ dad was around, but I knew I could not count on him to commit to six consecutive Monday nights, so I began to problem-solve. Now, asking for huge favors is very difficult for me; yet I knew if I didn’t honor this yearning in me, I would be snuffing out a portion of my heart.  Across the street lived a young couple with two boys. They’re a fantastic family, and we adults enjoyed hanging out while the boys played.  So I summoned up some courage and went to talk to my neighbors about a barter system of sorts. Would they be open to watching my boys those Monday nights in exchange for me babysitting their kids? They said yes, they were happy to help, not a problem. What a relief! I still remember the feeling of driving to the class each week, feeling completely liberated and energized. My boys had a complete blast being at the neighbor’s and I, in turn, did babysit for them (note: spending an evening with four boys under the age of six is perhaps one of my biggest accomplishments thus far). The lift I received from my writing class gave me a newfound energy and zest for life. I loved using my brain in a different way from my 9 to 5 job; and because I was in class learning something I’m passionate about, the energy snowballed into other areas of my life. I was able to get up super early to complete my weekly writing assignments. I began to observe daily life more thoroughly, realizing that writing material was everywhere. So brainstorm some options about what you could do for yourself and how to make the time to do it. What matters to you?  Who may be able and willing to help you? Do you dream of being home alone with your sketch pad? Rock climbing? Maybe an hour walking around a lake alone sounds amazing.  Realize there may be sacrifices.  And if it’s hard to ask for help, you are going to find yourself dancing in the “uncomfortable zone” for a bit. That’s ok, that’s how we stretch and grow.  Remember, you are doing the asking; it’s up to the other person to decide if they need to say no. Keep in mind that simple things have huge benefits.  Yes, there are some seasons of life when your passions really do need to take a backseat.  But watch out for the “busy-ness” trap!  It can make you feel like you couldn’t possibly take time to do something for yourself, ever.  Start making time in your life for your passions and hobbies, and you, too, will quickly feel the rewards and benefits. Renee Brown is the tired yet happy mother of two young adult sons, Sam and Zachary. Almost an empty nester, she loves sharing her single parent experiences with the goal of providing hope and encouragement to those struggling on that long and winding road. Renee lives in Minneapolis, works in advertising, and also blogs for Your Teen magazine.
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Does My Child Need To See A Therapist?

Blogger Your seven-year-old son, Justin, is so embarrassing.  He approaches adults and asks personal questions that seem inappropriate.  He seems to have no sense of shame, and little interest in conforming to social norms.  You cringe at the thought of taking him to family affairs and public events, where you never know what kind of catastrophe might transpire.  And when you broach the topic, he easily dismisses it and hardly makes eye contact.  You have already heard dubious murmurs regarding your parenting capabilities on several occasions, causing you to feel completely misunderstood.  All this despite the parenting lectures you invested in! Julio, who has just turned six, has been turning your life upside down for as long as you can remember.   His explosive outbursts are both unpredictable and utterly irrational.  You were convinced that his rigid inflexibility was just an extension of his “terrible twos,”, but he has since doubled in age and his explosions have only increased in duration and frequency. Everyone seems to adore Laura, a lovely, compliant eleven-year-old.  But you are worried that she seems to have little drive and never takes initiative.  She gives up easily and just doesn’t seem to have many interests.  When she does get excited and begins a project, she rarely completes it. And Sean, who is seven, is so active and aggressive that you are scared to leave him in the playground without constant supervision.  And even that doesn’t seem to stop neighbors from complaining about him.  Although Sean’s teachers and the principal are polite at PTA, the looks on their faces imply what the future will look like as Sean journeys through his school years. Justin, Julio, Laura and Sean’s parents are worried about their children.  Are these normal behaviors?  Will they “outgrow” them, or should the parents take action? Most of you reading these short vignettes can probably identify a child you know as closely meeting one of these descriptions.  Do these children need to see a therapist?  How would therapy benefit these children? Let us first identify the purpose of psychotherapy. To Love and To Work When I began my career as a Clinical Social Worker, a typical comment I would hear from friends was that they believed most people could benefit from psychotherapy.  But what percentage of people who say this actually step up to the plate and attend weekly sessions?  In a groundbreaking 2004 survey, a Harris poll showed that 27% of people in the U.S. received psychotherapy during that era.  That survey also concluded that only one in three people who needed psychological treatment was receiving it.  So, you may ask, where is the other 54%? Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology, defined mental health as the ability “to love and to work.”  In simple terms, a person’s mental health is limited when it gets in the way of his regular ability to function and to have relationships with others.  The purpose of psychotherapy is to help the consumer attain those two objectives.  This can be accomplished through many forms of therapy, with each therapist offering his own style and each consumer responding in his own way. That said, in determining whether to take your child for an assessment, the parents should initially look at three factors: 1) The parent(s), 2) The child, and 3) The parent-child.
  • The parent: Are you the type to become easily alarmed or overly reactive?  Be mindful that you are not reacting simply because your child is not perfect.  Sometimes, children evoke feelings in a parent that might be a result of the parent’s own unresolved issues.  In that case, it is really the parent who needs therapy.
  • The child: The next step is to evaluate whether the child’s issue is significant enough to require psychotherapeutic services.  It is strictly this category that would deem the child fit for psychotherapy.  Here is a partial list of issues that might be assisted by working with a mental health professional:
    • learning or attention problems (such as ADHD)
    • behavioral problems (such as excessive anger, acting out, bedwetting or eating disorders)
    • a significant drop in grades, particularly if your child normally maintains high grades
    • episodes of sadness, tearfulness, or depression
    • social withdrawal or isolation
    • being the victim of bullying or bullying other children
    • decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities
    • overly aggressive behavior
    • sudden changes in appetite
    • insomnia or increased sleepiness
    • mood swings (e.g., happy one minute, upset the next)
    • development of, or an increase in, physical complaints (such as headache, stomachache, or not feeling well) despite a normal physical exam by your doctor
    • management of a serious, acute, or chronic illness
    • problems in transitions (following separation, divorce, or relocation)
    • bereavement issues
    • therapy following physical, or emotional abuse or other traumatic events
  • The parent-child:  Whether the child’s issue stems from a poor attachment or not, it can often be helped through an enhanced parent-child relationship.  This approach offers the parents tools to regularly help their child develop his lagging skills in his natural environment.  This can be done in individual or family counseling.
  Finding a Therapist If you suspect that your child can benefit from ongoing therapy, it is a good idea to determine who might be the best fit for her or him.  For example, do you or your child have a preference for a male or female therapist?  Younger, older or middle age?  Would you prefer that a potential therapist has experience working with a similar family situation (such as a blended family or foster family), or a diagnosis?  Remember, choosing a therapist is always a risk, since the results can be relative and subjective.  There are numerous modalities  that therapists use to work with children and each one can be successful in its own right.  Sometimes it can take a few appointments, or meeting with multiple therapists, before you can determine whether that specific counselor will be a good fit for you, your child, and/or your family. Remember, these are just a few guidelines toward finding a good match.  Ideally, a referral from a friend or family member can often provide you with the most vital information when seeking a quality therapist.  Your child's pediatrician or primary care doctor might be an additional source of information, or referrals to other local professionals.  Another resource which can be useful in finding a counselor or therapist is the 211 Helpline, which you can contact at 1-800-273-6222 or by logging on to www.211.org in the US.  In Canada, you can reach the 211 Helpine by calling 1-800-836-3238 or by visiting www.211.ca Moshe Norman, MSW LCSW is a child and family therapist in Lakewood, NJ.  He can be reached at mnormanlcsw@gmail.com or at moshenorman.com

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Foster Parenting: 4 Ways to Help Foster Kids Thrive in Your Home

Blogger Foster kids often carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.? These children have often experienced profound physical or emotional abuse.? Such abuse is traumatizing and leaves wounds that are not immediately obvious --?or for that matter, easy to address. Many times those wounds have never completely healed, and so they appear again when the child reaches a new home or situation. Foster parents can help.
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The Easy Part of Raising My ADHD Grandchild: The Moments That Make It All Worthwhile

Parent Blogger When you are in your fifties or sixties or even older and you take on the life-altering responsibility of raising your grandchild, life gets tough. Time for yourself or with your spouse is not easy to find. You tire more easily and sometimes feel like you have less patience. You may be on a limited budget. And the grandchild you're rasing may have medical problems or be a troubled adolescent.
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I Ruined My Granddaughter’s Life Today. Again.

Parent Blogger Madeline is in fifth grade.  I was taking her to school and, while backing out the driveway, I thought how beautiful the peonies looked, soft raspberry petals with a cream colored middle, still moist from the rain the night before. Inspiration hit:  Why not take a flower to your English teacher, I ask Madeline, it would be nice to share them. (And it wouldn’t hurt to go along with the email I just sent her teacher that this month’s reading log is lost, I thought to myself.)
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You Can't Always Send Your Grandchildren Home - Sometimes They Live With You!

Parent Blogger No empty nesting for us!  After twenty-six years of diapers, kindergarten, homework, first loves, heartbreaks, loud cars that were continually breaking down, college tuition, and weddings for our four children, my husband and I were ready for some down time, some alone time, and just plain fun time. That was not to be. Instead, we are raising our 11-year-old granddaughter.
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