Archive | Step Parenting

Raising An Adopted Child

Change is hard for anyone. However, toddlers can have difficulty dealing with changes in their lives especially if it is as major as being adopted by new parents. Knowing the keys in raising an adopted child will help make the toddler’s adjustment easier.

Give A Warm Welcome

Prior to the arrival of your adopted child, arrange the child’s bedroom and lay things out such as bedding and clothes. Create a “Welcome Book” to illustrate who is in your family – mom, dad, brother, sister and even Jack the parrot. Do not forget to include the toddler’s picture. Prepare a plate of treats such as brownies or cookies on the kitchen countertop for the two of you to enjoy. Hold his hand as you show him the chair that is all his at the dining table. These gestures will make your home warm and your adopted child more at ease.

Provide The Toddler Something Familiar

Surround your toddler with something familiar. Place pictures of familiar faces on his bedside table. If he brought a favorite stuffed animal or blanket with him, let him keep it. Comfort items or loveys provide toddlers some security in a new environment.

Establish A Routine

Raising an adopted child requires structure. Structure is imperative for toddlers to grow and function. A daily routine will provide reassurance and ease anxieties. This is very important for an adopted toddler whose life has been turned upside down. Set a time for meals, snacks and play. Come up with a bedtime routine where you can help your toddler take a bath, get into his pajamas, read a story and kiss him goodnight. See to it you stick with this routine to create consistency. This can help the adopted child feel safe since he can predict what will happen next.

Explain Rules

Letting a toddler know what is expected of him is very crucial in the success of raising an adopted child. Discuss family rules, what behaviours are acceptable and unacceptable and consequences. Give him a list of chores he has to do. But, do not expect faultless behaviour or total obedience to your rules. Make him aware of his misbehaviour but do not scold or spank the toddler. Talk to him in a calm and firm manner. Give him a time-out or withhold a privilege. Doing this will help the toddler understand that rules are rules without feeling like he has to earn your love.

Allow The Toddler To Make Decisions

Raising an adopted child includes letting him make choices. Ask your adopted child what activities he wants to do, what food he wants to eat or where he wants to go over the weekend. This is a nice way to make him feel part of the family and provides an opportunity to get to know family members better.

Make Yourself Available

Be there for your toddler. Respond to his needs. Talk about everything. Make it clear to your child that you are always available to listen. Say you are happy when you see him smile. If he cries because he remembered something uneventful from his past, empathize with your toddler. Snuggle and give him a hug. The more secure your toddler feels, the more comfortable he will be with you which reduces any angst or hesitation he may have.

Raising an adopted child requires time, effort, patience and plenty of love. Having a new family is something an adopted child has to process. But remember, that children thrive best in families, and eventually, your toddler will adjust to his new environment and grow.

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Common Issues of A Blended Family

When two parents of previous marriages decide to marry, it can bring a lot of emotional baggage to the children. Use these tips as your guide to help you rise above the most common issues of a blended family.

Problem # 1: Hurt and Angry Feelings

Toddlers in blended families can become defiant. Having a new parent can cause a toddler to feel doubtful about life which may lead to lack of cooperation. Oftentimes, a stepparent will be held liable for the divorce of a biological parent. The toddler can also feel confused between staying loyal to the biological parent and liking the stepparent.

The Solution: Be empathetic. Allot time for adjustment and accept whatever hurt feelings the toddler may have. But, do make sure the toddler still shows a certain level of respect for the parent and stepparent. Avoid dictating how the toddler should feel. Tell him that you understand that this situation must be hard for him.

Problem # 2: Difference In Parenting Styles

One of the biggest problems of blended families is parenting. You and your partner may have your own parenting style and once you make changes, that is when conflicts arise. Your toddler may think his new stepparent is controlling you which can make him resentful towards your new spouse.

The Solution: Come up with a list of values the two of you want to instil such as honesty and respect. Then, discuss your perspectives on parenting. For instance, you may think withholding privileges is the best way to discipline your toddler while you partner is in favor of using time-outs. Next, tackle household rules such as your toddler’s bedtime. Once you are both clear on each other’s beliefs, you can discuss parenting strategies you can apply that will be valuable for your family and that respects everyone’s opinion. After that, hold a family meeting and talk about your agreed rules and discipline methods. Your toddler is more likely to follow you and your new spouse when you present a united front.

Problem # 3: The Need To Compete

Divorce can make children question their parents love for them. Toddlers often believe that they have to compete for their parent’s attention and affection if there is a new parent and child in the picture.

The Solution: Toddlers need reminders. It is important to spend quality time with your toddler, minus the stepparent. Hug and kiss your toddler. Say “I love you” often. Treat every family member equally. Allow the children to bond.

Problem # 4: The “Ex”

An ex who meddles with the formation of a new family can make the situation more complicated. An ex can rant about you or your new spouse in front of your toddler. Or, your stepchild’s biological mother may take your stepchild out to an amusement park and leave your toddler behind.

The Solution: This one is out of your control. But, what you can do is try to be the best parent you can be. Do not thrash talk your ex in front of your toddler. If your stepchild is out with his mother, spend time with your toddler to avoid feelings of rejection.

Problem # 5: Creating A Family

A blended family does not function like traditional families. Having a new parent is already difficult, but having a new sibling just makes things more complicated.

The Solution: Connect with one another. Read books together during bedtime. Organize weekend trips with your new family. Create a “return ritual” when doing a house switch such as stopping for ice cream on the way home. This gives everyone grace period before jumping into a different routine.

Growing together as a stepfamily is not always easy. But with time, patience and effort, you can form a secure and happy family.

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Step Parenting – What Not To Do

Step parenting may be the hardest role a person can play. You have to make a huge effort and sacrifice some things without knowing if things will work out. Here are some common step parenting gaffes any step parent should avoid.

Bad Mouth The Other Parent

This is the number one no-no of step parenting. Never insult the other parent even if the toddler is upset with the other parent. This is a very insensitive action which can hurt and confuse the toddler. If you must talk about the other parent, do it when the toddler is not with you or within earshot.

Refuse To See The Effects of A New Parent to The Children

Children daydream for their parents to get back together. Thus, the shock of knowing a new individual is entering their life is difficult to accept. Sit down with your spouse and discuss things – rules, expectations and how to handle the toddler’s reaction so the two of you can help the toddler adjust.

Expect An Instant Happy Family

One of the worst things you can do as a step parent is to desperately try to fit in your new spouse’s family. Sure, having their approval is a good thing. But, do keep in mind that you need to earn admission into the family. Do not rush your relationship with your stepchild. Be patient. Give yourselves enough time to get to know each other and to get used to the new family structure.

Assume The Role of A Parent

It is quite scary for a toddler to learn his parent is remarrying. Naturally, the toddler will feel protective of his parent and will see you as the “enemy”. Do not assume the place of the other parent right away. Instead, be present in your stepchild’s life without breaking boundaries. Be his friend. Spend some alone time with the toddler so he can see you as an individual, rather than a substitute of the biological parent.

Allow The Child To Mistreat You

Resentment is a normal feeling for toddlers who are welcoming a step parent. But, it is incorrect to tolerate a disrespectful toddler in the hopes of getting the stepchild to like you. If the toddler says “You are doing it wrong. Mom does it like this.”, or if he shouts at you, shrug your shoulders, make eye contact and explain there are different ways to do things or say something like “I understand how you feel. But it is not right to yell at an adult.”.

Take Over Discipline

Let your spouse (the biological parent) deal with establishing limits, rules and consequences. Only butt in if the parent is busy or during dangerous situations. If you do discipline the toddler, resist the urge to point out his flaws. Make sure you commend and encourage the toddler as well.

Stop The Toddler From Bonding With The Biological Parents

Without a doubt, spending time with your spouse and the child is a great way for you to bond together. But, try not to be always present. Give them one-on-one time to encourage the toddler’s relationship with each birth parent so the toddler will not feel like he has to choose between mommy and daddy or divide his loyalty.

Successful step parenting is about starting off on the right foot and being patient. When the toddler sees your good intentions and realizes you want to be a part of his life,  everyone will have a smooth transition.

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How Blended Families Can Bond

Making blended families work can be difficult, but with time, persistence, a little effort and some family activities, you can have everybody smiling in no time.

Fun Bonding Ideas For Blended Families

Share Hobbies

Think of a fun hobby that each member of the family can participate in. If a toddler is interested in playing baseball, join him. Ask him to teach you how to play the sport. Or, you can be the scorer while his younger sister and step-sister can be cheerleaders. Going to a sports center for a family match is also a great bonding idea. If cooking is your passion, encourage them to join you, even your spouse. Help them familiarize basic cooking utensils and kitchen wares. You can teach the toddlers to cook fuss-free recipes. Bake delicious goodies and assign each one to stir, slice, blend and wash the ingredients. Food always excite toddlers so teaching them how to whip up their favorite soup or desserts will surely guarantee a great time for all.

Have A Family Game Night

Each week, select a night when the whole family will be at home, say Friday nights. Take turns playing each family member’s favorite game. To make it extra fun, divide the family into two teams. Playing scrabble, charade and card games encourages the entire family to talk openly, laugh and squeal together with delight. This activity eliminates the barrier between the two families and creates an open communication that will ultimately bring everyone closer together.

Hold DVD Marathons

DVD night is one excellent bonding idea for blended families. Rent each member’s favorite movie. Buy lots of popcorn and soda. Be sure to watch the films together in a closed area wherein the toddlers can cuddle up closely. The master’s bedroom, living room or den are perfect locations to hold this fun activity.

Delegate Chores

Letting children help with household chores will not only give you time to bond with them but you are also training them to help at home. Assign them easy house tasks such as washing the dishes, watering the plants, cleaning the windows and placing their toys back in their original storage.

Go On A Trip

Do not just limit the fun inside the house. Go out. Explore the world. During weekends, visit places as a family. Bring children to the carnival, park, zoo, museums and play zones. Hold an out of town trip once a month or during the holidays. Travel to the countryside, visit sanctuaries, flower fields and farms. Visit different states and discover other countries. These trips will expose them to other people and open them to different environments which will help them learn and build social awareness. These journeys will also make them see the effort you exert to bring the family closer making them realize the value of family, whether they are related by blood or not.

Have One-on-One Dates

While doing things as a family is good, one-on-one parent-child bonding is equally important. Spending time with your spouse’s toddlers gives them a chance to know you and vice versa. Make sure you spend 1 whole day with each child (do not leave out your own kid of course). Let them choose what they want to do and where they want to go. Do grocery shopping. Go to malls. Watch movies. Eat at their favorite restaurants.

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Step Parenting – Dealing With Difficult Step-kids

Having a new parent figure into a toddler’s life can confuse and scare a child. Hence, blended families may go through certain issues most normal families do not. Step parenting can be difficult when children disrespect you. But, you can achieve harmony within the family with an open mind and heart.

Show Respect, Gain Respect

Like the old quotation goes, “In order to earn respect, show respect first.”. Never demand your step-children to like you instantly. They do not have to like you. They just need to respect you. Treat them the way you treat an adult. This helps them realize that what they are doing is intolerable and as an elder, you deserve to be treated with respect. Leave it up to them whether they will accept you or not. Eventually, once they get to know you, they will learn to love you.

Set Some Ground Rules

In every home, rules must be set especially with blended families. Once authority issues have been settled, take time to sit down with your spouse and the children. Lay down certain ground rules like observing courteousness. Be vocal that you will not accept name calling, catfights and ill manners around the house. The children needs to know these rules from the very start. On the other hand, never forget to consider your step-kids’ feelings and wants. Remember, disrespectful children think rules are unfair so it is best to hear out their thoughts so the rules set are in accordance to all parties.

Get Support

Inform your spouse of his children’s behaviour. Together, create a discipline and reward plan for each child. Decide on what actions will and will not be tolerated by the two of you. Once you have come to an agreement, act out your plan as a team.

Establish Your Identity As A Step Parent

Sometimes, children resent their step parents because they are afraid their mom or dad will be taken away from them. Assure your step-kids that you are there not to replace their mommy. But you are there as a caring adult who wants to love and give guidance to them. Treat them using your own parenting style. Reprimand instead of scolding them whenever they do something wrong. Praise good behaviour.

Do Not Try Too Hard

Do not put too much pressure on yourself. Know that as a step parent, you cannot read your step-kids’ mind. If they do not tell you what is bothering them, respect their decision. What you can do is to assure them that they can always come to you for help. Other than that, you have to let go until everybody gets to know each other.

Hold A Family Day

Most often, what step-children need in order to understand their step parent better is bonding time. Establish each day in a week wherein you do different activities together as a family. A DVD marathon every Friday night, eating lunch in their favorite restaurants every Sunday or an out of town trip every month will do. By doing so, every family member gets to form a tight bond that will eventually bring them closer together. Organizing a family day gives toddlers the message that being a happy family is imperative and so it is very essential to make it happen.

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Tips to Help Toddlers Easily Adjust With Step Parenting

Losing an important member of the family at such a tender age is already painful for toddlers. Having to adjust with a step parent makes it even more difficult. Feeling insecure and the loss of security in a new family is scary. However, this is a modern day reality everyone needs to face and deal with. As a parent, it is your responsibility to assure your toddler and make some adjustments to help your young one easily transition.

Step parenting is a normal challenge of family life. With a little effort and extra wisdom, step parenting can be blissful and effective making this new bond solid and strong.

How to Help Your Toddler Adjust

Recognize That There Is A Problem

In order for your toddler to understand the changes going on around him, you first have to acknowledge that he is confused and unhappy. After all, no child ever wants to see their parents separating. The best way to comfort your toddler is to have a calm and honest conversation. Assure him that he can express all his thoughts and feelings openly. Keep an open mind. Understand where your toddler is coming from. Be affectionate. Tell him that even if there is someone new, you are still his baby and that step parent will not replace daddy. This helps him be aware that certain changes must be made and accepted. Once tension has been cleared, you can be sure his mind is free from worries.

Keep It Casual

Even though you have talked about it, it is never a good idea to push your toddler. Remember, he has his freedom and the right to be sensitive with the idea of having a step parent. It is best to not let that certain someone jump in for the mean time. Letting that someone try too hard to win him over will only make your toddler retreat. Not exerting any effort will also make your toddler think that he is unwanted. Be civil about it. Let nature take its own course.

Allow A Get-to Know Time

To ease out your toddler’s wariness, it is imperative to allow adequate time for your toddler to get to know the step-parent to be. Focus on their mutual interests. As much as possible, present them with opportunities to meet on their own terms. Start off with a walk in the park or a home visit perhaps. An out of town trip during the weekend also helps your toddler welcome his step-parent to be more cordially. See to it that you include your child during you and your special someone’s quality time. In this way, your little one is able to process this new phase in his life with ease.

Hold A Bonding Date With Your Toddler

Going out together with his step-parent to be can be fun, but, never forget quality time with your toddler. This gives him assurance that everything is okay and that he has nothing to fear. Do simple things he likes together. A stroll in the park, playing catch in the backyard, a visit to the mall or dining in his favorite diner are effective ways to assert his special place in your life.

Surround Him With Loved Ones

Enclosing your toddler with people who are dear to his heart will help him adjust comfortably. An older sibling, uncle or grandmother can guide your toddler to understand this change. Finding someone compassionate and wise to talk to can widen your toddler’s perspective.

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