My Spouse or My Kids?

My Kids or My Spouse?

You married for love. You married forever. But you never expected your marriage would involve having to choose between your new spouse an...

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

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 Collins

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

Show your STEPfamily Pride!