Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday Tip #11: Sit, Write, NOW!!

Now is the time to take 10 minutes to radically improve your family relationships for the next year. No, I'm not talking about resolutions (who keeps 'em anyway?!). I'm talking about a more powerful tool.

While you're sitting, reading this, open a word processing or text program on your computer, or just send yourself an email, and write down all your memories of HOW CHRISTMAS WENT - how it went wrong, but also the good things that happened. Surprising kindnesses; unexpected gifts; one solitary peaceful moment and what lead to it and how it felt; your favorite two gifts; your joy at picking out and giving a particular gift to someone else.

Then go ahead and vent at how angry you got over the stepkids or your ex or your spouse's ex. Describe how you felt when they ignored you or disrespected you. Write about how you had hoped things would go, but how they fell through.

THEN think for a moment, honestly, about what you did to contribute to the tension. Were you more attentive to your own kids than the stepchildren? Did you start out expecting trouble, and got what you were expecting? Did you leave out some kids from the gift giving, or give them not-as-good gifts as others?

Far too often, we set ourselves up for failure by expecting the worst, acting like we expect it, then subtly preparing everyone else to do exactly what we expected. "I know that boy is going to be ungrateful, even though I've bent over backwards and given up my own happiness for him. I know he's just going to ignore anything I give him." "Here. This is yours." "I knew it! Little brat! He never appreciates anything I do for him! I'll never do anything for him again!"

And do you feel justified in your memories of these holidays? Are you still steaming over the way it fell apart? Write that down, too.

NOW, save your thoughts (or send the message to yourself) for at least six months. In the summer, open your memories - fresh memories, not distant one you can't quite remember fully. Give yourself some time to re-view the events of this last week. See how they look with the perspective of time. You will most likely be very surprised at how they look.

If you wish, you can send me a copy of these notes. If you are wanting help in building a stronger relationship with these who hurt you last week, I can help. I'll be glad to help you interpret your actions, and to plan better ways of dealing with them in the future. It's hard, but it's not impossible. Not with the right help. 

God bless your whole family for the whole next year!

STEPcoach Bob Collins

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Tips - #10

Stepfamily Holiday Survival Tip #10:
Keep your perspective. What’s the bottom line in dealing with holiday madness in a stepfamily? The same three C’s we teach in all our resources at STEP–Carefully! — Caring, Consideration, and Common sense.

Care for your loved ones. Care about how you are teaching them to be adults. Care about the reputation you will be carrying through life.

Be Considerate of others’ feelings. Show consideration and respect for your new family’s need for a solid, peaceful home.

Use Common sense in handling problems. Some of them just aren’t worth the effort. Common sense means backing up to look at the larger picture. Is this particular old holiday custom worth fighting over? Or would you be better off letting it go and trying something else.

For the sake of your kids, act like Christian adults! Or at least mature adults. Remember, it’s Christmas, don’t blaspheme the holiday by destroying what you’ve taught all year long.

If you look at it correctly, this holiday season can be a wonderful opportunity for you to improve your relationship with your stepchildren and your mate’s family, rather than a series of upsets. Keep tomorrow in mind today. Try to send yourself some blessings for next week, next month, and the rest of this coming year. You deserve that much, don’t you?

Always remember: you are the best chance your spouse and your stepkids have for a blessing. You. Don’t miss a chance to be a hero.


[NOTE: this is an excerpt from our guide book, Beat the Holiday Blues.]
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Don't forget about my special Christmas gift offer: 25% off my standard rates for couple mediation/coaching sessions. Details are HERE


You are NOT alone! We love you and we can help.

God bless your whole, wonderful family,
STEPcoach Bob Collins

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Tips - #9

Stepfamily Holiday Survival Tip #9:
Wear thicker skin over the holidays. As the inevitable pressures build, be prepared to be an example of patience and lovingkindness.

Be careful that you don’t lose control of yourself and damage relationships you have to maintain throughout the rest of the year. Someone has to be the adult, it might as well be you. And don’t be a martyr about it, telling everyone how tough it is, just do it with a smile. Even if no one else appreciates your strength, you can feel proud of yourself on January 4th!

Understand that, when your kids return from their holiday visits, they will probably be wearing an attitude. They usually do after a trip to “that other house,” don’t they? Have you figured out why yet?

More than likely, it’s because they’ve had a not–so–great time. They were away from home, in a strange place, among strangers with strange customs. They missed you, and that made them feel guilty for not loving their Dad more. Possibly they were left out of activities and treated like street urchins brought in out of charity.

Do you see why it’s so important to put forth the effort to make the kids who come visit you feel welcome?

On the other hand, the kids who do come visit you may very well be less than gracious about your efforts to include them and make them feel comfortable. Never mind. It’s not really important how well someone receives a gift from you. It’s how you give the gift that matters. The visiting kids may have been “prepped” by their mom or dad to expect you to be a monster, so they are putting up the best defense — a good offense.

Well, you just prove to them what kind of a person you really are! And you will, good or bad.

[NOTE: this is an excerpt from our guide book, Beat the Holiday Blues.]
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Don't forget about my special Christmas gift offer: 25% off my standard rates for couple mediation/coaching sessions. Details are HERE

You are NOT alone! We love you and we can help.

God bless your whole, wonderful family,
STEPcoach Bob Collins 

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holiday Special Offer for Your Family

If you have wanted to get private personal guidance and help for your family conflicts and arguments, this is your chance.

I am offering, as a Christmas present to your family, a 25% discount off my regular fees for private mediation/coaching sessions. This is limited to new clients who order and pay for a minimum of four sessions before Christmas, the sessions to begin following New Years 2010.

These sessions are not limited to any topic or subject. We can begin rebuilding your family's relationships and finding healthy solutions to your disputes regarding parenting, marriage, divorce, ex-spouses, stepchildren, or any other family related issues that are causing distress in your home.

Why am I giving away one fourth of my fees? Because you need it. Our families are failing at a horrifying rate today. Stepfamilies are divorcing much faster than ever before. The challenges facing our marriages, our children, and our extended families are becoming overwhelming.

I can help you with those challenges and I want to. I have been teaching peaceful solutions to breaking and broken families since 1996. I have been able to help thousands of stepfamilies and divorced parents rebuild trust and teamwork. And I can help your family, too.

To take advantage of this one-time special offer, contact me before midnight, December 24, 2009; agree to a contract for a minimum of four sessions to begin in January 2010; and pay for the sessions in advance. You will receive a 25% discount off my standard session fees. This offer is open only to first time clients, please.

Please let me help you and your family find the peace you had hoped for before you married. You owe it to yourself and your whole family to begin the process of building a healthier future now.

Email me HERE, or call me at 479-522-7490 to begin a new, healthier family life for 2010.

God bless your whole, wonderful family!

STEPcoach Bob Collins


Holiday Tips - #8

Stepfamily Holiday Survival Tip #8:

If kids come to visit you for the holidays, don’t neglect them. Whether they are your own children, for whom your spouse has custody, or your stepkids, make them part of everything that goes on. Please, amid the stresses and emotions, try to remember that these children are not ropes for a tug of war game. They are not enemy spies from the ex. They are children hoping to have some enjoyment during a special time of the year, in a place that is not their regular home. You have the power to make a positive or a negative impact on them.

As you practice your new traditions, don’t forget to include them. They are family, too, even your stepkids. Ask them for their stories (then listen to them), expect them to help or take part, and talk to them, too.
Children who visit their other parent’s home seem to fall into two categories. They are either an extended part of the family, or complete outsiders. Whether your kids get to visit regularly and often (say, every other weekend) or just twice or three times a year, they still deserve to get some permanent consideration.
You owe it to them to make sure they are comfortable and settled.

You’d be surprised at how many stepparents tell us that they only provide a drawer for their stepkids’ clothes and belongings when they visit. “After all,” they rationalize, “the kids are only here for a few days, why would they want anything more. We do pay child support, you know!”


That’s shameful! They’re not pets dropped off on you for a kennel stay. (Can you say, “Grinch”?) They are children who are basically at the mercy of your courtesies. If you live in a small house and have little extra money, be creative. Save up and buy (or even borrow) some furniture — a bed, a chest of drawers — it doesn’t have to be a lot. The point is to make an effort just for them out of love.

How would you want your own children to be treated at a stepparent's home? Would you want them ignored, overlooked, given lesser gifts than their stepsiblings, spoken to the same way you speak to your own stepkids?

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Let me know if you need any special help settling the upsets in your family. I can help you!

[NOTE: this is an excerpt from our guide book, Beat the Holiday Blues.]


You are NOT alone! We love you and we can help.


God bless your whole, wonderful family,
STEPcoach Bob Collins 
 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Tips - #7

Stepfamily Holiday Survival Tip #7:

If your kids do have to travel to visit their other parent, don’t whine about it. Family ties are important to all children, but especially so for children of divorce. After spending all year in a new home with new family members to adjust to, your kids probably will feel relieved to be back around familiar faces. Let them.

One mother said that her feelings about her kids being gone for Christmas could be summed up in one word:
Hallelujah! It wasn’t that she didn’t love her kids, she did very much. But she chose to look at this as her court–appointed vacation from them. At first she felt guilty about enjoying their absence, but, she says, she realized that they were having fun, so she might as well, too. Now, while she looks forward to their phone calls and their return, she plans special times just for her husband and herself.

Don’t fret or obsess about their being gone. Enjoy the free time; schedule some time just for yourself at least every other day.

When plans are being made for your kids’ or stepkids’ visit away from home, look for positives about the trip.
Make sure you don’t make them feel guilty about wanting to see their parent. You are not in a contest for whom they love the most. They will always love both of you. You wouldn’t really want kids who can hate their father as much as you do, would you? They might practice on you!

It should go without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that
you should take care to never — ever —  put down your ex or your spouse’s ex in front of their kids. Never tell your children how awful you think their Dad or Mom is! First of all, you wouldn’t want them to hear the same sort of thing about you. And secondly, regardless of how you feel about him, he is still your kids' daddy. To belittle him belittles them, in their eyes.

(NOTE: This topic is covered in more detail in our other booklets, Improving Your Stepfamily’s Communication, You’re Not My Dad!, and  You’re Not My Mom!)


BLESS your children. Help them have a care-free, fun, enjoyable holiday season. If you can't be happy about it, keep it to yourself or share it with your mate where your children can't hear. Give them the gift of a happy Christmas season.

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[NOTE: this is an excerpt from our guide book, Beat the Holiday Blues.]


You are NOT alone! We love you and we can help.


God bless your whole, wonderful family,
STEPcoach Bob Collins 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Tips - #6

Stepfamily Holiday Survival Tip #6:
Switch days to celebrate to ease the pressure. If your kids’ non–custodial parent must (or just chooses to) have your kids on the holiday, you may want to consider this alternative. Many stepparents have found that having flexibility in this area makes everyone more relaxed.

We have rather arbitrarily decided that Christmas, for example, will be celebrated on December 25th. There is really no reason why you can’t meet with the rest of the family on the 25th, then have a second, more intimate celebration later when the kids are back home.

Tell them you want them to have two Christmases this year, one with Dad and one with you and stepdad. Then, don’t scrimp on the festivities. Whatever new traditions you’re going to practice, give them as much attention as your other activities.

This brings up a very important point. The primary focus of most holiday celebrations is the children. However, in trying to give our kids the best holiday experience, we can get carried away. If your honest desire is to make you kids happy this season, then think of them first.

Constant bickering, tension and pressure to be happy and have fun, and tug of wars over whose home, when will not produce the desired result. Children are extremely sensitive to their parents’ attitudes. Your children have suffered through the divorce and seeing their parents separate, the last thing they want for Christmas is another fight.

Compromise, then make up lost time when they come home.
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If you're struggling to keep the joy of the holidays in your heart and home, I can help you re-focus your relationships. Email me at stepcoach@gmail.com if you want to learn more about building a better home.
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[NOTE: this is an excerpt from our guide book, Beat the Holiday Blues.]

Watch for more guidelines between now and Christmas to help you survive and enjoy holidays with your family!

You are NOT alone! We love you and we can help.

God bless your whole, wonderful family,
STEPcoach Bob Collins




Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Tips - #5

 Stepfamily Holiday Survival Tip #5:

Begin new traditions just for your new family. 

Every family, every clan, every culture has its own special traditions for holiday celebrations. You developed deeply rooted patterns in your former household, and so did your spouse’s family. Many stepfamily conflicts involve couples trying to continue to do things the same way they always did them. This is a recipe for trouble!

Some stepfamilies have been successful at this by keeping some elements from each side’s traditions and blending them into a new pattern. But the selection of what to keep and what to toss out can lead to feelings of “What I want is not important to you!”

Far better, many believe, is to scrap all the old ways and find new traditions.

Begin by letting everyone have a say about what they would like to do. But it is important that everyone is part of the process. Keep a positive attitude about the process.

Ask other families what they do. If you are members of a stepfamily support group (and you should be!), you may find suggestions there. Look for unique activities. There are more ways to celebrate than eating contests followed by TV football marathons.

Here are a couple of examples from post support groups:
Have a cookout. If you live somewhere warm, that’s OK, but this activity will be more of an adventure if there is snow involved! Roast hot dogs and marshmallows. Look at the stars in the crisp, cold sky. Tell funny ghost stories. Carols are optional.

Make a time capsule. Place photos, notes, letters, items with special significance in the capsule, make sure it is water tight (use super glue or caulking), and hold a ceremony as you bury it.

The point is to look for new activities you can repeat year after year to develop a kinship between the new family members.

Changes don't have to be bad. Keep a positive mental attitude and lead your new family into a new future together!
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[NOTE: this is an excerpt from our guide book, Beat the Holiday Blues.]

Watch for more guidelines between now and Christmas to help you survive and enjoy holidays with your family!

You are NOT alone! We love you and we can help.

God bless your whole, wonderful family,
STEPcoach Bob Collins

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Tips - #4

 Stepfamily Holiday Survival Tip #4:

Concentrate on making these Holy Days instead of holidays.

The holidays we celebrate today all began as religious observations. In fact, we get out word “holiday” from the original term, “holy day,” which in earlier times was the term for a period of religious celebration, reflection, or remembrance. Through the years, however, commercialism and frantic expectations, and a general turning away from things spiritual, have distracted us from the true reason we celebrate our most cherished family traditions of Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year, and Easter.

Some families, rather than fall prey to the commercial influences of a retail Christmas season, even go so far as to hold a birthday party for Jesus for their children! Rather than give all the gifts to each other, the best gifts go to homeless, poor, or sick families nearby. By leading their families in this charitable activity, they both help the children to learn to care for others, and the expand the holiday experience beyond their own immediate homes.

Whether you are a Christian, or you practice another faith, or none at all, this practice of giving to others less fortunate than yourselves can move your holiday mindset from competition and frustration to reflection and patience. And it can help both bio- and stepchildren to look past their own feelings. If you can help stepchildren focus on something besides their own challenges of remembering past family celebrations and home exchanges, you can bring perspective to their own situation.

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[NOTE: this is an excerpt from our guide book, Beat the Holiday Blues.]

Watch for more guidelines between now and Christmas to help you survive and enjoy holidays with your family!

You are NOT alone! We love you and we can help.

God bless your whole, wonderful family,
STEPcoach Bob Collins

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Holiday Tips - #3

Stepfamily Holiday Survival Tip #3: 

Keep a holiday journal of this, and every coming, holiday gathering. This suggestion comes from a support member who said she has holiday journals that go back to her first season with her stepkids. She says that the older journals — the worst ones where everyone was either insolent or sulking — are the most valuable to her. They show how much her new family has progressed over the years.

Without some perspective, you will likely feel that you are making no progress. But you will make progress. Most every stepfamily moves through six stages of development, as described fully in our workbook, “Stepfamilies: Basic Training for Couples.”

The Dream Stage — is that magical time before you marry, when everything is perfect. {Your betrothed is, or you are, the white knight on the white stallion, coming to save the day.}

The Discovery Stage — comes just after the wedding when problems start to arise. {You realize you’re going to have to clean up after the knight (and his stallion!)}

The Decision Stage — {NOTE: this is when the stallion dies and starts to stink!} This is the point where you decide whether to stay and fight or wimp out, and run out on your promises to this family.

The Determination Stage — not for the failures, but for those tough enough to stick it out — when you first say, “We might make it.” This stage may begin as early as the third to fifth year.

The Development Stage — is reached when you begin to have more good days than bad ones. Some families reach this stage earlier, but most hit it in the fourth to sixth year. Someone says “I love you.” or “Thank you for staying.” This is not the end of all your growing pains, but you’ll know when this stage comes, and you’ll realize it was all worth while.

So, keep a journal. Record in it gifts given by and to whom, where you went, and some of the more notable things said and done. These days are valuable, don’t lose them.

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[NOTE: this is an excerpt from our guide book, Beat the Holiday Blues.]

Watch for more guidelines between now and Christmas to help you survive and enjoy holidays with your family!

You are NOT alone! We love you and we can help.

God bless your whole, wonderful family,
STEPcoach Bob Collins

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Different Take on the "Christmas" Battles

Letter from Jesus about Christmas --

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up... It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5 Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6.. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary-- especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian.. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember :

I LOVE YOU,

JESUS

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Holiday Tips - #2

Stepfamily Holiday Survival Tip #2:

Develop flexibility in your holiday plans.
Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. Again, realize that this is only one celebration out of many others to come over the years. Next year, everyone will be a little more familiar with each other, and hopefully they’ll also be a little more accepting.

This is just one small step in the blending process, not the whole thing.

If Cousin Dave or Aunt Bertha just has to make a comment on the fact that, unlike last year, there is only one kind of pie for dessert, or that it looks odd that all your presents are wrapped in the same color paper, or asks where some particular decoration is that just didn’t have room with all the others, just let it roll off. Smile and comment on how much you like their home made fruitcake, and then tell them some little positive story to brag about your stepkids.

Being in a stepfamily means dealing with multiple family plans. Your ex — or your spouse’s ex — will most likely have family celebration plans of their own, involving your kids. Naturally, it will be easier if you can work together in cooperation to coordinate both sets of parents’ programs. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen very often. If your spouse’s plans conflict with yours, you will have to find a way to compromise.

(More on scheduling later.)

Remember that the purpose of family holidays is supposed to be for loved ones to gather and — well, love each other. If your family gets snippy about the seating arrangements around the dinner table, love them anyway. If they can’t seem to get over the changes, remind them how lucky you all are to have new family members with you. Don’t get sidetracked. Your goal is to have a relatively positive experience to help unite the whole family.

You are building a new family, with new traditions. Maybe one of those new traditions can be that little things don’t matter so much. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to look back on a season of no big fights? Aim for that - no big problems. Little ones come with the territory.

Besides, if you get every little thing perfect this year, what will you have to do next year to improve on it?!

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[NOTE: this is an excerpt from our guide book, Beat the Holiday Blues.]

Watch for more guidelines between now and Christmas to help you survive and enjoy holidays with your family!

You are NOT alone! We love you and we can help.

God bless your whole, wonderful family,
STEPcoach Bob Collins

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Love, Peace, & Joy for You!

I was asked again, just yesterday, "Now what exactly is it you do with families?" So I thought I'd just publish the short answer for those of you who have been wondering.

What do I really do?
I teach couples - not-yet married, married, or divorced parents - to understand, embrace, and effectively use …
Love
Joy
Peace
Patience
Kindness
Goodness
Faithfulness
Gentleness
Self-Control
in their marriage relationships, their parenting, their post-marriage parenting relationships, and in their lives in general.

What are these characteristics?
These are the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, as found in Galatians 5:22
These are the natural character of God's Spirit which is living in each person who has accepted and confessed Christ as Lord of his or her life. The Bible tells us that if you have accepted Christ as your Lord, then you do have His Holy Spirit living in you. And, if you have His Spirit living in you (in your heart, mind, soul), then you already have these qualities in you. The word picture is that of planting, say, an apple tree in your yard and it bearing apples. Plant the Spirit in your heart and He will bear those fruits.

So why do so few Christians demonstrate these beautiful fruits in the words the say, the way they act, their own character? Well, just because you've got an apple tree in your yard doesn't mean you are well fed on apples if you neglect to go to the tree and pick the fruit it grows, right? And just because you've got God's Spirit producing these sweet characteristics in your heart doesn't mean you're using them. Many Christians just let the fruit lie and rot on the ground beneath the "tree." In other words, you may have the ability to be joyful, but still choose (CHOOSE!) not to embrace and show that joyfulness.

Why? 
Why in the world would anyone choose not to be joyful if they had the opportunity? And that's the answer: "in the world." If you keep your eyes, mind, and heart focused on the upsetting events of the world, you can't focus on God's gifts right inside your heart.

Let's say your child is in a rare cuddly, lovey mood. They just want to crawl into your lap, lay their head on your shoulder, and share time with you. But, right at the same moment, your neighbors have decided to have a loud, angry fight in the street outside your window …

Your mind has a choice: focus on the love and sweetness of your child in your lap, or focus on the angry, loud mess outside your window. You know, right now, what you should do, but in the moment you'll probably either push your child away to see what's happening, or at least give that child less than the attention he or she deserves …

You make choices like that many times every day. And all too often you are subconsciously choosing to ignore the Fruits of God's Spirit inside your heart, mind, and soul in favor of upsetting situations around you, in your family, at your job, or just distractions in your mind. Free Will can be both a blessing and a curse so often, can't it?

So, how do I help couples learn to tap into those precious Fruits so they can have happier relationships and lives within their families?
By reminding them regularly that the option to be joyful is available, guiding them to find the Fruit inside themselves, and developing practices that will strengthen their ability to live more in the Fruits than in the distraction. Now, these practices vary depending on the couple and their particular issues. For some, they may involve creating solid household Rules that will help them work more successfully together; for others, we may find better ways of communicating with each other; and for others, gentle confrontation of upsetting issues may be necessary in order to get those issues resolved.
 
And it works.
It works beautifully. I've done it many times for many married couples, parents, and divorced parenting families.

So, if you're not enjoying your family as much as you wish you could be; if you're not living the Love-Joy-Peace-filled lives you long for; if you find yourself more often pulled down that lifted up,
let me help you find that joy. You, your children, and your marriage will be much better off for it.


All you have to do to get started on better family relationships is to contact me by email or by phone (479-522-7490) and start asking questions. I'll be happy to answer anything you're not sure about. Then we can set a time to begin building your new Love, Joy, and Peace-filled family.

I'll be waiting for your email so we can get started. God bless your whole family!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holiday Tips - #1

Stepfamily Holiday Survival Tip #1:

Begin your holiday survival plan by acknowledging to yourself, and for every member of your new family, that it’s OK to feel sad during “happy holidays” (despite what Uncle Sol used to tell you — “This is no time for a gloomy Gus!”). Allow for some down time, but don’t stay there. These feelings that we’ve discussed and which you are starting to feel are natural. They are shared by nearly every stepfamily around the world — over 20 million in America alone!

Realize where you are in your life. This is a starting point to a whole future. Statistics show over and over that it takes an average of four to seven years for families to blend. This means that you will (statistically) suffer growing pains for at least a few years before you will see those dreams come true.

Too many couples enter into a stepfamily with unrealistic dreams. They expect  the kids to fall right into line, loving them like they’re the natural parent. They expect their ex-spouses to suddenly become cooperative, or just disappear. They believe that they will fall right into a happy home life in the first year — or the first months, even!

And when that doesn’t come true, too many of these stepfamilies just fall apart. Instead of accepting that hurts take time to heal, they whine or demand that their new family members "snap to" and make all happy.

If you made that mistake and you’re now panicked because of the chaos you feel around you — relax.
You are in the vast majority. As I said before, stepfamilies experience around a 75% divorce rate. That alone tells you that at least three fourths of them are having problems. What it doesn’t tell you is that most of the others have the same problems you are having, but find ways to survive them.

Accept that blending two families is tough, everyone has the same fears. Then move on.
This is just one holiday season. Get through this one with at least some good times, and the next one will be easier.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
[NOTE: this is an excerpt from our guide book, Beat the Holiday Blues.]

Watch for more guidelines between now and Christmas to help you survive and enjoy holidays with your family!

You are NOT alone! We love you and we can help.

God bless your whole, wonderful family,
STEPcoach Bob Collins

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

This is the text of George Washington's
October 3, 1789 national Thanksgiving Proclamation;
as printed in The Providence Gazette and Country Journal
, on October 17, 1789.


By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.

Whereas
it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.  
G. Washington.

Borrowed this, with thanks, from http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=3584 


May you and your family have a blessed, peaceful Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Ten Best Things to Say to Your Child During Homework Time

Found this today and thought they had some good ideas you might like. Enjoy! BC, Stepcoach

Homework can be a battle or a breeze. It can create conflict or cooperation. It can produce tension or focused attention. Which of these outcomes occurs in your home depends in great measure on how you talk to your children during that important time period. To help your child's homework experience be productive and stress free, consider the following ten best things to say to him or her during homework time.
1. "It's study time." Don't even mention the word "homework." Have a study time, a study table, and study materials. Study time occurs whether there is homework or not. This eliminates the common child response, "But I don't have any homework." Some parents prefer to call this time period feed the brain time. Whether you call it study time or feed the brain time, it is important to make this a family commitment. We all feed our brains during this time. If you are not willing to make this commitment as a parent to feed your own brain during this important family time, don't ask your child to.
2. "Let me know if you want my help." Refrain from giving unsolicited help. Help that is not asked for is resented and is often not even needed. Give your child the space to ask for help if he needs it. Learning to ask for help is an important skill that every child needs to learn. So is struggling on your own for a while.
3. "Act as if you know." Children will often tell you, "I don't know how to do it." Resist showing them right away. They are doing their "I can't" act. Know that it is an act. Encourage them to choose a different act by saying, "Act as if you can." Other ways to send the same message include: "Pretend like you know how." "Play like you know." "If you did know how to begin, how would you begin?" "If you did know what to write, what would you write?" Asking children to "act as if" does not mean they will do it correctly. It gets them started. It gets them doing something. You can correct incorrect doing. Not doing anything is impossible to correct.
4. "You have a lot of assignments to do here. Which two do you think are the most important?" Do not let your children study for long periods of time. Family time is MORE important than study time. When the teachers give more than is doable in the study time you have structured (90 minutes for high school, 60 minutes for middle school, 30 minutes for elementary school), call the teachers and let them know they are assigning too much material. Ask your child, "Which two of your assignments do you think are most important?" This requires her to think and to set priorities, teaching her a valuable life skill in the process.
5. "Study time is over." Pushing beyond the set study time creates diminished results. Set a limit and stick to it. Hold to the set time schedule for study time.
6. "It's time for a time out." Frustration may occur. Suggest your child take a time out if you see her becoming overstressed. Shoot some baskets, ride bikes, go for a walk. Get away from the schoolwork for a while. When she comes back to study time, she will bring a fresh mind and a fresh attitude.
7. Use descriptive praise. Refrain from making evaluative comments such as "good job" or "excellent paper." These global remarks do little to teach why the effort was good or excellent. Instead, make your praise descriptive. Simply describe. "I can read every word." "This sentence got my attention and I wanted to keep reading." "You stayed right on it and finished that section in ten minutes." These factual statements give valuable information. Descriptive praise also allows the child to make the evaluation. When he says to himself, "I did a good job," the evaluation is coming from the inside out.
8. "Do you want me to check it?" Sometimes children want your checking help. Sometimes they do not. Let them make this decision.
9. "Let me show you an example." This is teaching, not doing it for them. Show your child a sample, example, or possibility. Allow her to decide how to apply your idea. Let her do the problems she was assigned.
10."Would you be willing to put your name on it?" This statement is not used to check whether your son or daughter remembered to put their name on the paper. It is a statement about the relationship between pride and effort. "Would you be willing to put your name on it?" really means, "Are you proud enough of it to sign it?" Help your children learn to develop an internal standard of excellence so they know how this piece of work stacks up against their personal standard.
Your Parent Talk around study time and school assignments is critical. It can help or hinder, motivate or discourage, inspire or wound. Use the statements above to help you create a helpful study time for all. In fact, why not study these suggestions and put them to use during your next family feed the brain time?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Twas the month before Christmas

Twas the month before Christmas
When all through our land,
 Not a Christian was praying
 Nor taking a stand.
 See the PC Police had taken away,
 The reason for Christmas - no one could say.
 The children were told by their schools not to sing,
 About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
 It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
  December 25th is just a ' Holiday '.
 Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
 Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
 CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod
 Something was changing, something quite odd!
 Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
 In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.
 As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
  At Lowe's the word Christmas - was no where to be found.
 At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
 You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.
 Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
 Are words that were used to intimidate me.
 Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
 On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton !
 At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
 To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
 And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
  Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
 The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
 The reason for the season, stopped before it started.
 So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'
 Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
 Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
 Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS ,
not Happy Holiday !
Please, all Christians join together and
wish everyone you meet during the
holidays a
MERRY CHRISTMAS
Christ is The Reason for the Christ-mas Season!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Are You Like Your Parents Were?

I heard it again this last week:
"I'm turning into my mother, the way I'm acting with my kids!"

And, as I usually do, I asked, "Is that good or bad?"

And I got the typical answer: "I don't know. Some ways good, but others bad."

We are so often so tied up in worrying that we'll harm our children and stepchildren that anything seems dangerous. If we punish too severely, we're afraid we'll warp them; if we're too lenient, we're afraid we'll spoil them. Then there's the fear of the horrible DHS knocking at the door to confuse everything!

With all these concerns about how we raise our kids, the most personally upsetting is the fear that we'll turn into your own parents. Why is this so dreadful? Maybe it's because we'll feel like liars or imbeciles if we go back on that vow we made at age 16 that "I'll never be like you!" Or maybe it's because we're secretly afraid our kids will turn out to be just like us with their kids!

Back then, they were the enemies, or at least the watcher to be outwitted and out done! But the situation is very different now that we are the parents - the jailers, the spoilers of fun. And the question has to be asked:

Were we wrong 'way back then? Were our parents actually right in all their rules and regulations that cramped our style? Were we as dimwitted as our kids seem to be sometimes? We sure felt smart at 16, didn't we?

So here's the question for you:
Are you becoming like your parents? and 
Is that good or bad?

Let's brainstorm a bit. Click on the "comments" link below this post and tell us if you've followed your parents' lead or if you've gone another direction. Then tell us a little of why you've done which ever.

I'll give you a week to enter your thoughts, then we'll digest them and see what they all mean.

See you in a week,
STEPcoach

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fathers

Got a letter recently asking me what I thought the writer (a dad) should focus on leaving his son. He was wondering if the focus should be things, memories, or what. I contacted the guy and we talked about what kind of a dad he wanted to be remembered as - a provider, an inspirer, or a shadow who worked a lot.

It's an important thing for a man to consider - the legacy he will leave behind.

My own father died in '06, a week after his 90th birthday. He was in great shape up until he broke his arm in a silly accident nine months before that, then he just went downhill at a steady pace.

My reaction has been sort of roller coaster-ish. Dad and I had a horrible start. He was a drunk who fought with my tea-totaling mom often - every time he'd come home schnockered he'd light into her ... and her mother ... and her sisters ... and every other woman he could think of. I spent a great deal of my youth crying for them to stop.

Many years later, and especially after my mother died in '00, Dad and I got closer. I learned that he was a funny guy who liked to laugh and have fun. We actually became friends the last few years of his life. My wife tells me that I have a lot of my dad in me - the funny, outgoing, never-met-a-strange-waitress bits, not the drunk bully bits.

It's really very complicated for a man looking back at the man who begat him. I find that the longer he's gone, the more I remember good things I'd forgotten about my youth. I remember weekend drives into the mountains when the three of us would walk around lakes only Dad seemed to know about. I've learned that he didn't really want another kid - my sister was 15 years older than I was. He was ready to retire when I accidentally came along. I guess he didn't handle the surprise and additional burden of me well. At least not until I was grown and on my own, out of his sphere of responsibility.

Good guy/bad guy. Dad was like most of us, a little of both. And I, I'm learning, am a lot like him.

Don't let your death be the first time your kids stop to really consider what kind of parent you have been. Think about what you want them to remember, but also welcome the opportunities to talk to them about yourself and your relationship to them now, while you can. Too late comes too soon.

Happy trails,
STEPcoach

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Are You Up to the Challenge?

Your kids and stepkids are challenging you! And you'd better be up for that challenge if you know what's good for you. Fail at this and you'll be fighting to regain ground the rest of your life.

"You are NOT my mom! You can't tell me what to do! And I don't have to listen to you!"

This is simply your loving stepchild's way of saying, "Excuse me please, could you kindly straighten out for me the question of authority and respect in this new family situation? Thank you very much." (Yes, it really does mean that!)

When they give you The Look, or refuse to acknowledge you, or talk down to you, they are tossing out a challenge and a question that says, "Just exactly where do you and I stand in this new household?" And your first answer will stand for a long time.

If you fail to answer correctly, you'll have more than double the work to re-inform them.

What is the right answer? Well, it's a careful balance of love, respect for them, and an insistence for respect from them. If you answer too softly ("Oh, OK, sorry to have upset you, dear.") you'll be telling them that you are fair game for all sorts of attacks.

Yet if you go too far the other way ("Hey kid! You better watch your mouth! I'm ...") then you'll tell them you're so intimidated by them you have to attack to defend yourself.

The best way to answer is somewhere in between. It depends on the age of the child, what else they've been through before you, your spouse's position on supporting you, and your own self-confidence. A good answer may be, "I know I'm not your mother, and I don't intend to try to be. But because your dad has invited me into your family, I do deserve respect, at least for his sake."

The first encounters are not set in granite. You can improve your position with your stepkids. But it takes some special approaches involving their biological parent, you, and teamwork for the whole family.

If you're already dealing with the results of a mis-handled first challenge, I can help you rebuild and establish a firmer footing with your new family. But the longer you wait, the harder it is to correct. Get help soon!

STEPcoach Bob Collins

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Things I've Never Heard ...

I've never - in 14 years of working with stepfamilies - heard anyone say:
"I wish we'd gotten married quicker!"
... but I've heard over a hundred times:
"I wish we'd waited a little longer!"
Rushing into a second or third marriage (or a first one for that matter) is not a good idea. What's the hurry? If your sweety is right, they'll wait and it'll be better - if they're not the right one, better to find out before the wedding!

I've never heard anyone say:
"I'm sorry I stuck with my stepkids."
... but I've heard many say:
"I'm sorry I gave up on them."
Giving up on the stepkids, no matter how mean they are, is almost as hard on you as it is on them. Their tests are to see if you are tough enough and sincere enough for them to trust you. If you quit, you fail.

I've never heard anyone say:
"I'm glad I ran out on my marriage."
... but I've heard many say:
"I'm so glad we stuck together through the tough times."
You and everyone who knows you will remember your failure if you surrender. You will either come out of this as a hero or a zero.

Granted, if you are the victim of someone else's weakness, you are not to be blamed. Especially if you fought for your marriage and your family, you can hold your head up. But if you just throw in the towel because "they're mean to me!" then you are ... well, did you solemnly vow to remain faithful and true to your mate at the wedding? If you did promise and you're walking out on your promise ... what do they call people who do that?
I forget.

Stick with it! Your family is counting on you. You are counting on you. When you are 75, sitting in a rocking chair, you'll wish you had stuck with it! Do it!

STEPcoach, Bob Collins

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Be Careful With Your Facebook Account

A family law firm in Texas has posted an interesting article on their blog, with information you may need someday if you are ever facing custody challenges. Entitled, "BEWARE: Social Networking Sites and the Law," the article warns that more and more attorneys are searching social networking web sites for incriminating information or suggestions when building a case against someone.

What this means for you is that the casual comments, joking or bragging claims, or funny-at-the-time photos you post for your intimate friends to read may come back to bite you if you are in court. The article gives some examples of cases where you might be fighting for custody of your children and find yourself having to explain the post about your wild party at the lake last Summer.

Laws are still pretty vague about what constitutes "private" information if it was posted on-line. So the bottom line is, don't say anything on-line, even if it's supposedly restricted to private, close friends, that you wouldn't mind hearing about in court!

The full article is at http://www.nacollawfirmblog.com/?p=148

Remember, step ... carefully!

Stepcoach Bob

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Don't RETARD Your Children!

Talking to a frazzled, harried mom recently, she was complaining about how her 19 year old daughter was wearing her down. The daughter is unmarried, still lives at home, and is pretty much forcing Mom and stepdad to help her raise her own baby.

Mom said, "She's just after me all the time. I don't have time to work, to study, get my knitting done. She needs money for diapers; she needs me to go with her to help take care of the baby while she does anything."

And it's affecting Mom's and stepdad's relationship, too, of course! Mom recalls, "Last night I was so upset at her nagging about the sick baby that I snapped at my husband several times."

"Why didn't you snap at her instead of him'" I asked.

"I don't know! I was just so upset. I needed to study, I needed to do laundry, I needed some peace and quiet, but she just kept coming into my room asking for this, or needing something else. He asked me something and I just exploded!"

This dear, well-meaning lady is raising a retarded child. No, her daughter has no mental deficiency, she is not "challenged" in any standard sense of the word. But she is severely retarded all the same. Her mother has retarded her.

If you are still carrying your grown child, you are retarding their growth. If your teenager is still unable to make basic decisions for himself such as how to pay for extras or whether to study for a test in stead of failing it, then you are retarding your child!

Our jobs are to prepare these biological blobs to become functioning adults who are capable of dealing with challenges and questions in the big ol' world. If we don't do that; if we answer all their questions for them; if we carry all their loads for them, they will not develop the necessary skills and confidence to handle life. We are retarding their growth.

I'm not suggesting that you throw them defenseless to the wolves (i.e. refuse to provide their basic needs or offer wise guidance), just that you help them become able to fight the wolves themselves. Yes, it's a fine line between too much privilege and the right amount of encouragement.

But that's what prayer, Bible study, parenting books, support groups, and coaches are all for. Find a good, successful parent and ask them for advice.

For suggestions about how to get them to the point of living on their own, my special report, "12 Steps to Improving Your Stepfamily's Communication," covers the basics. Lay a good foundation while they're young and they'll be more competent to take over later.

Don't give up. But don't give in, either. Stand strong. If you need help, I'll help you. But keep your goal in mind: raise them to be ready to leave.

Ephesians 6:4 teaches us: "Parents, don't make your children bitter about life. Instead, bring them up in Christian discipline and instruction." Lead, guide, prepare, release.

STEPcoach Bob

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Morning Rescue!

Admit it: getting your kids up and out the door to school each morning is even harder than getting them to bed at night, isn't it? And, if you'd be completely honest, you'd consider just letting them rot in their bed some days rather than face the prospect of the war that usually occurs.

But, there are ways and means to get them critters movin' without water hoses (spraying with, not beating with!) or major deconstruction of the bedroom furniture. Here are seven tips to help you ease your way into the day and help your kids move a little quicker.
  1. Begin early: if your kids are still very young (preschool or kindergarten) NOW is the time to begin a morning routine (see below) to integrate the idea of getting up and at'em before they begin their school daze; if they're already into the hustle, then ...
  2. No thought required: the first order of business is to get rid of as much thinking as possible. Most kids are pretty slow to wake up to full consciousness, so remove the necessity for decisions as much as you can. The key word is ROUTINE! Do the same thing, the same way every day to help them get automated and into a familiar system.
  3. Let there be light! studies agree that we are creatures of light, and light affects us positively. Give your kids a boost by getting lots of light into their room right away. Don't let them wake in a dim room. If the sun's up (it works better than indoor lights), open the shades and let it in! If they're rising in the dark, turn on all their lights. You can get a lot of bright out of some of the newer fluorescent "energy efficient" light bulbs. Use em!
  4. Pre-Package their clothes outfits: Let them help choose their clothes, but do it the night before - or the weekend before! Have each child lay out (with your help) a full outfit for each day: underwear, socks, shirt, pants or skirt, belt, ribbons, etc. Then place each outfit together in a bag. Label the bags with the day's and child's name. They can just grab a bag each morning.
  5. Fast food to go: If you're not using breakfast as a daily family meal, then consider fast food to go. You can pre-make their favorite breakfast sandwich and let them eat it either at the table or in the car on the way. Peanut butter and bananas really is a fairly good breakfast to get a child revved up for first class. Avoid meats and dairy which will tend to slow them down, though.
  6. To reward or not to reward: Some children respond well to rewards, some don't. If yours do, keep a chart of morning successes in the kitchen or other public area and track their weekend rewards.
  7. Last resort: you've heard about it, but do you have the guts to do it? Nothing is more motivational to a child than fear. Just one trip to school in their pajamas is usually enough to get them moving the next mornings. WARNING: don't threaten this if you don't intend to follow through! Also, notify your child's teacher of your possible action so they can assist, not derail your plan.
Of course, no list like this can be fully complete. You may have something that works even better, or you may think of a situation or child type who needs a different type of approach. If so, PLEASE SHARE in the comments. One of the main things to remember in parenting is that we can all work together to make the load lighter!

Happy mornings!

STEPcoach Bob

Friday, July 17, 2009

Letter: What Is A Stepparent?

Got this letter recently:
My husband fathered a child in his teens with a woman he was not married to. The teen mother never involved him in the raising of the child. The child never lived with the father. The father never contributed to the welfare of the child.

When the child was a teenager she contacted him and they met. At that time I was married to him. The child labeled me her step-mother. I do not feel as if I’m her step-mother for two reasons. First, her mother and father were never legally married. Second, the child never lived with her father.

My question is what legally makes a person a step-parent?
-------------
My answer to her was:
While there are no legal statutes that cover all states, most specify that if you are married to the biological parent of a child, you are the stepparent of that child. Taking responsibility or not does not affect biological connection. Many times I did not feel like I was anything at all to my often-awful stepdaughter, but the fact that I was married to her mother made me an influence in her life.

I chose to take advantage of that connection to demonstrate to a young person how generous and loving someone can be regardless of whether of not that child deserves anything. It has affected her life positively in many ways, she tells me now that she is grown. It cost me nothing except a few moments of forgiveness and kindness, but it has paid off many, many times over as she became more part of my life later on and I now have a wonderful (step)grandson who thinks I'm the bees' knees!

It's your choice entirely, to either resist and push away and become bitter and cold, or to accept and embrace and grow in grace. You will influence your stepdaughter, one way or the other. Period. It's your choice. And your opportunity.

So, what is a stepparent?

A stepparent is a person who is not related and legally not obligated to do anything at all for another person's child; yet, simply out of love for that other person (and sometimes for the child) a stepparent turns their whole world upside down for that child. They give money, time, effort, ideas, fears, worries, and most of all caring for a child who may never acknowledge the gift.

Some people think a stepparent is chief among fools for allowing herself to become emotionally invested in a child who resents your very presence in her life. Some people (mostly stepchildren) think of a stepparent as interfering and demanding and "wicked." And, honestly, some are!

Most stepmoms and stepdads, though, are doing their best to walk a fine line between interfering in their spouse's childraising, and being too distant from their stepkids. Most stepparents make the mistake of giving advice that is unasked-for and upsetting their spouse and their stepkids. So, they get offended or more cautious and pull back too much so everyone thinks they don't care enough.

And then there's the stepparent's other family - her ex-husband who's either jealous of the new guy's place with his kids or just unsure where he stands (or both!), and her children from her previous marriage who are, also, jealous of the new kids and new spouse, and who feel somehow left behind by Mom's new life. And THEN there are all the grandparents! Her own parents, the ex-spouse's parents, the new spouse's parents, maybe even his ex-wife's parents all want to know how the new person will care for their grandkids!

So, a stepparent has a lot of pressure to be absolutely perfect all the time, right from the beginning of the marriage. It's a wonder the divorce rate is only 66% for second marriages! The majority of couples just can't cake all the challenges and stress on a new relationship. (the divorce rate for third marriages is even higher - around 85%).

That's why I constantly urge couples about to marry into a stepfamily situation and couples already in a stepfamily to get help. They can't predict all the issues that will come up, even if they've been in a previous stepfamily relationship.
When I help couples prepare for or repair their stepfamily, I first investigate all the family connections and how they are affecting the mixture, then look at the immediate issues. Before I can help a couple build a success plan to strengthen their family, we have to know what kind of a foundation we're building on.

Stepparenting is the toughest job you'll ever take on, but despite the scary statistics and divorce rates, it is not impossible. You can survive and succeed at building love and peace in a happy home - with the right help. Don't give up, get busy! Call or email me and we'll talk about how I can help your family succeed.

STEPcoach, Bob Collins

Friday, June 26, 2009

Self-Image Guidance

Interesting blog article by Intimacy 4 Us. I found it (of course, on Twitter) just today and read some wonderful advice. MY advice is to go there (link is below) and read their advice.

Some of the things they talk about are Breast Anxieties, Hairy Situations, Excessive Sweating, Should I Nip and Tuck? Some are very personal - but those are the ones so many people need some guidance in.

YOU are the most important person in your family. You owe it to THEM to take care of YOU. So go visit http://www.intimacy4us.com/bandaids-selfimage/ and get you some you time!

Looking out for YOU,
STEPcoach Bob Collins
Twitter: STEPcoach

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