Sometimes kids in divorced or non-traditional families feel different from their peers. Keep a conversation going with them about what (if anything) they feel is unusual, different or “embarrassing” about your family. Gentle, open, non-judgmental conversation – and reminding them of the “new normal” of family life these days – can help them negotiate their experience.
Tip of the Day February 22
Try not to ever speak negatively about your separated or divorced partner. Sharing how you feel with an older child when they ask about the situation can be okay if you are careful to let them know they do not need to agree or take any responsibility for the relationship.
Tip of the Day February 21
Sometimes with visitation needs, kids are away for some traditional holiday times. Work around this by creating your own family traditions. Idea: “Christmas in July”. Take the day off, turn up the AC, put out a fake tree, exchange presents and have a holiday meal together.
Tip of the Day March 23
Focus forward. Reminding your kids repeatedly of things they did wrong can lose its constructive value if it makes them feel badly about themselves. Instead, look ahead and focus on what they can do differently next time.
Tip of the Day February 20
Consider carefully what names and terms you use in your family. There’s no one, right way, but “step” and “half” can sometimes feel like “less” when applied to siblings. Explore with your kids about what works for them.
Tip of the Day February 19
When moving between households, it’s easy for kids to forget things. This becomes complicated for everyone involved! Try using a dedicated notebook or whiteboard to keep a running list of regular and special items needed to assist the transition.
Tip of the Day February 18
Sometimes we need help. Developing a network of friends who are willing to step in and “co-parent” on occasion (babysit, pick up a kid from school, grab an item at the store) is worth the while. Talking beforehand to folks about how you’d love to have such a reciprocal relationship with them can ease the way to asking for help during an emergency. It takes a village!
Tip of the Day February 17
Use any occasion to celebrate or create a new tradition. Think outside the usual rites of passage (birthdays, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, etc). Family traditions can also be built on less commonly thought of events – the first day of school, the return to our house from mom or dad’s house, Saturday mornings, good report card day. Be creative!
Tip of the Day February16
Try a complaint jar. Ask the kids (and adults!) to put their concerns on paper first, leave them in the jar, and agree to discuss things at a specific time. Conversations often go a bit better when we are cooler headed and have some distance from the problem.
Tip of the Day February 15
Do your best to be ready to listen whenever kids are ready to talk, even if it’s at an inconvenient time. We never know when they might be ready to share an important thought, a tough experience or a difficult question, and we’re never sure when the next such moment may come!