When Everyone Isn’t Happy In Your Re-Marriage

My friend Denise was a beautiful bride. She was in her early thirties when she married Matt and took on the challenges of stepparenting Rylee, his 10-year-old daughter. To others, it seemed like a seamless transition. Denise had been an assistant leader in Rylee’s Girl Scout troop. She had taken special care to make sure that Rylee was often included on her dates with Matt, and she had even spent many “girl days” with Rylee for some one-on-one time. Even Rylee’s biological mom had a good relationship with both Denise and Matt.

But sometime between the wedding kiss and the limousine ride to the reception, Rylee had a meltdown. Running to Denise, she buried her face in her new stepmom’s arms and burst into tears—loud, heaving sobs. Everyone was baffled and wondering, Why? What’s wrong?

A newly married couple is floating on the high of marital bliss, excited to have finally found the right person. Unfortunately, many parents assume that their biological children are as happy as they are about this new marriage. “When divorced parents remarry, they see it as a gain, but a child sees it as another loss,” Laura Petherbridge, author of The Smart Stepmom, explains. “The reason stepfamilies are so complicated is because whether death or divorce has occurred, there has been loss. With loss come grief, fear, depression, and discouragement.” Families take those emotions with them into new relationships. While Mom or Dad may think they have had time to heal, they don’t realize that children tend to be about two years behind adults in the grieving process.

Years later, as a young adult, Rylee explained the emotions behind the tears on that wedding day. Once her daddy was officially remarried, she realized there was no way that he would ever go back to her mother. Sure, she liked Denise, in fact, she really loved her. But as a child, she had long been fantasizing that one day her father and mother would marry each other again, and her home would be put back in place.

“It’s wise for a stepparent to recognize that they need to move very slowly into the life of the step child,” urges Laura. “It takes approximately seven years for a step family to bond. The mistake is when a new couple thinks that since they are happy, the children should be equally as happy.”

Rebecca Ingram Powell is a wife, mother, author, and national conference speaker. Connect online at www.momseriously.com

Real Life Solutions with Dr. Linda Mintle

My son seems to have the idea that he should always get what he wants. I admit that we do tend to spoil him. His toy closet is full of toys that he rarely plays with once the novelty wears off. Last night, he pestered me for something at the store and I said, “No.” He threw a fit and would not stop until I gave in. I’m worried that I might be raising a child who feels entitled.  

 

Your concern is warranted. We have too many kids who feel entitled because of well meaning parents who overindulge. By nature, children constantly ask for things, but when they regularly get whatever they want without any work or stipulation, they can develop a sense of entitlement.  For example, instead of doing chores as part of contributing to the family work, children are paid. It is not true that giving more stuff to your children makes you a better parent. Yet, parents often feel pressured by media and advertisers to provide the latest phone or technical device, the best designer clothing and expensive shoes that will be outgrown in a few months. It’s time to pull back and look at the bigger picture. By giving your child whatever he wants, what are you teaching him? Start setting limits. When my daughter wanted a cell phone at an early age, I said, “No.” I could afford it and many of her friends had one, but she didn’t need it. She didn’t get it and that was an important lesson. Also, create opportunities for your children to earn rewards. All of this requires a shift in your thinking as a parent. Your child is not a co-equal, doesn’t make his own decisions, needs to learn respect for money, things, and you, and should be refused when arguing or being disrespectful. You are in charge, so stop allowing your child to bully you into giving him things. These may sound like tough words, but you will thank me later!

 

Resource: The Entitlement Trap: How to Rescue Your Child with a New Family System of Choosing, Earning, and Ownership by Richard and Linda Eyre (Avery trade 1, 2011).

Tips for Being a More Relaxed Parent by Sophie Hudson

You know those moms who look calm and cool and collected at every stage of their parenting journey? The ones who post pictures on Facebook five minutes after they give birth and look like they just sat down to rest for a second after a refreshing workout?

 

Well, I am pretty much the opposite of those people.

 

Because if my own new baby pictures are any indication, my personal post-partum goal must have been to establish a new precedent for record levels of swelling.

 

Mama here was a little puffy. That’s all I’m saying.

While the swelling eventually subsided (unless you factor in the fact that I’ve been carrying around approximately 20 pounds of baby weight for the last nine years), it took me awhile to find my groove as mama. I was surprised by how the smallest things could just stress me out: how much our little guy was or wasn’t eating, how well he was sleeping, whether or not he was crawling, how many words he was saying, etc. Every milestone seemed to bring a fresh wave of panic right along with it, and as I look back on what was undoubtedly one of the sweetest times of my whole life, it makes me a little sad that I wasted so much energy on worry.

I’m certainly no expert on parenting – I have learned that lesson the hard way – but I do think that I have the benefit of perspective in terms of knowing that life with a little one could have been a good bit easier if I had just dialed down the obsess-o-meter a little bit.

Here are three things I wish I’d been more relaxed about. 

1. Sleeping habits – Before Alex was born, I told anyone who would listen that our first order of business was going to be establishing a sleep schedule. Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad that we had structure – but I drove myself crazy trying to stick to that schedule. I’d lose my mind if I thought something was going to interfere with it, and during the times when he wouldn’t nap or he woke up four times in the night, I was tense as could be. In retrospect I wish I’d been a smidge more flexible about the schedule – and really soaked up the sweetness of our time together. 

2. Potty training – One time when I was pulling out my hair over potty training, a friend of mine told me that more than likely my child was not going to go to kindergarten in a diaper. She was exactly right. I acted like I was trying to reinvent the wheel, but history shows us that potty training is a habit that most of us eventually figure out.

3. Play date activities – When our son first started having friends over, I always felt like I needed to have “something” for them to do. I bought canvases, rounded up paints, filled up baby pools, pulled out HotWheels – anything to keep them entertained. When he was around four or five, though, I realized that they just wanted to play. Their activities might not have made a lick of sense to me, but they were having a blast, and I didn’t have to play camp counselor to make that happen. There’s no need for a sixteen-step craft station. Just let ‘em play. They figure it out.

What about you? What are some ways that you wish you’d been more relaxed when your kids are little? Or if your kids are still in the toddler or preschool phase, what are some things you’ve learned along the way?

 

Read more from Sophie at www.boomama.net.

Heroes on the Home Front by Rhonda Hensley

Each year thousands of men and women deploy leaving their spouse and children behind.  Just as those men and women are to be referenced as heroes so are those who battle the struggles of taking care of the home front.

A Call to Duty

Daniel has served in the U.S. Army for over eleven years. He is proud of the opportunity to serve our country. He believes that it his duty not only to protect our country but to provide freedom for his own family. His wife Jennifer and their three children are proud of Daniel’s service to our country but it is not without a cost to the family. Jennifer states, “the most challenging part of the military life is the time our service members have to spend away from us while on a mission or deployment.”

Aiming High

Being a military family for over ten years, the Hall family has adjusted to having dad away most of the time. Chad is a member of the U.S. Air Force and his service requires him to be away on an average of 200 days out of the year. Andrea and her two children have learned to aim high on the independence scale and lower the expectation of having dad around. Andrea states, good friends that become like your extended family help the most during the absence of your military spouse.”

Always Faithful

It didn’t take long for Shaina to gain an understanding of the commitment and dedication it takes for military families to remain faithful. Shortly, after she and her Marine husband, Chad wed, she was sending him off for duty. He witnessed the birth of their daughter via Skype. Shaina expresses that the most challenging part of being a military wife is feeling like a single parent and not knowing if your loved one will return home safely.

Galatians 6:2 states, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” One of the greatest ways we can lighten the burdens of our military is by caring for the heroes they leave on the home front.

 

Rhonda Hensley  is a writer, speaker, Bible teacher and avid photographer which all provide ample opportunity to share her life experiences as a pastor’s wife, mother and grandmother. www.kingdomjewelsministry.com

Pregnant Surprises by Jessie Weaver

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source: PLateauus

I’m writing this six weeks before my March 21 due date, but as you read it, we may or may not have welcome our third child, Joshua, into the world.

This pregnancy was a surprise for us, and everything after that plus sign appeared has been surprising as well. My strange, on-and-off sickness made itself known until 22 weeks. I went into our “big” ultrasound 100% convinced we had a baby Katie in there … oops. At 31 weeks, my hip and back started acting up to the point of putting me on modified bedrest (with a preschooler and a toddler and no local family). And at 34 weeks, I’ve started feeling the end-of-pregnancy sick already, making it difficult to eat anything.

While none of my pregnancies have been peaches and sunshine, this one has been especially tumultuous for me.

I can’t say I enjoy pregnancy, although I am grateful to have healthy ones with healthy babies thus far.

It’s easy for me to float away spiritually when I feel bodily miserable, too. I “reward” my pain with too much television and novel-reading, ignoring the Bible on my bedside table. My back makes it difficult for me to sit through a whole church service, so my soul has been without many sermons.

Yet, is there a better time to really cling to the Word and what He has to say about parenting and children?

Do you have any advice for pregnant mommies who struggle like I do? How do you stay focused on God while your body is a constant reminder of earthly pains and issues?

Jessie Weaver is the resident ParentLife blogger. She is a freelance writer who lives in Chattanooga with her husband and two kids (2 and 4) plus one on the way!

Not Easy but Good by Ellen Stumbo

My daughter has Down syndrome, and dealing with her diagnosis was difficult. I pictured a life defined by limitations, rather than possibilities. After a while, I began to see the blessing that I had in my daughter, and I came to realize she was the baby I always wanted, I just never knew it before.

If I could go back in time, this is what I would tell myself:

 

  • Dealing with her diagnosis will be one of the hardest parts of the journey. The rest is simply everyday life.
  • Grieving comes in waves. New stages might require for you to grieve all over again. It’s okay. It does not mean you don’t love your child or that you have not accepted her diagnosis. It is normal to feel this way.
  • Reaching milestones will be an accomplishment of extravagant joy and celebration.
  • She will be a child first. Her disability will only be a part of who she is, not what defines her.
  • You will love her with a fierceness that will surprise you and fuel you every day.
  • Your heart will expand a 1000 times over.
  • She will bring you incomparable JOY.
  • You will come to realize how much you needed her.
  • Thanks to her, your priorities will change as you understand what really matters in life.
  • It will not always be easy, but it will be good!
  • You can do it, and you will be better than okay.

My daughter has collaborated with God to work in my selfish heart. A heart that many times is so lost in this world that it forgets that the standards I live for are not the ones set by people, but those set by God. It has turned out Down syndrome was not a limitation, but a gift that has expanded my heart.

October is Down syndrome awareness month. As I look at my daughter, I recognize I have much to celebrate and be thankful for.

Ellen Stumbo is a writer and speaker. She is the mother of three daughters: Ellie; Nichole, who has Down syndrome; and Nina, who was adopted and also has special needs. She is wife to Andy, a pastor.

Pregnant Parenting by Jessie Weaver

Being pregnant is not my talent.

I am a great newborn mother. I nurse with ease, love to snuggle, and deal relatively well with little sleep. I know many parents don’t care for the infancy stage, but I LOVE it. I am always happy to just hold a baby.

But pregnancy does not agree with me. I haven’t had scary pregnancies, or bedrest, or premature births. I just spend nine months sick, exhausted, in some sort of back pain, with severe acid reflux. I like baby kicks … but that’s about it.

So now, in my third pregnancy, I am trying to find ways to be a decent mother while getting through another 9-month period of The Grumps. Here’s a few things I’ve come up with.

Let It Slide

My main job is to take care of my kids and make sure they are eating, sleeping, and breathing, right? If I have to turn to Chef Boyardee instead of cooking from scratch, it’s OK. A little extra TV won’t kill them. Making sure they – and I – get some fresh air is a good goal for the day.

Housework is not my priority, and I will do what I can when I can.

Snuggles

I’m spending extra time cuddling the little ones. Today my almost-4-year-old daughter and I gave up naptime to watch a movie and snuggle. She was thrilled with the one-on-one time, and I got to lay on the couch and still be an awesome mommy.

Reading

One thing I can do quite efficiently while hardly moving is read my kids piles of books. We read, talk about pictures and stories, and make up new stories. They are really into coloring, so any related coloring activities are good, too!

 

Your turn: What’s your secret for when you are too tired/sick/pregnant to parent as you normally would?

Jessie Weaver is the resident ParentLife blogger. She is a freelance writer who lives in Chattanooga with her husband and two kids (1 and 3) plus one on the way!

Optional Paid Jobs for Happy Workers by Amber Peacock

Amber Peacock wrote the article “Solving the Allowance Dilemma” in our October issue. You’ll have to pick up a print issue to see what she said there; but here, she writes about getting kids to do her household chores!

When I'm cleaning windows...
source: horrigans

I’ve got a secret. I rarely do the dishes, never vacuum, and have not cleaned the upstairs bathroom in years. My children do it—willingly and without being asked!

It started with a simple chart, “Optional Paid Jobs for Happy Workers.” I wanted to instill a healthy work ethic, encourage responsibility, and teach my children how to earn and manage money. I also wanted more help around the house. I made a list of specific household chores that I had been doing, but that I would be willing to pay the children to do. Signing up for a paid job was entirely optional, so I made sure not to list chores that I expected the children to do on their own, such as picking up their toys and putting their dirty clothes in the hamper.

Tips for Success

  1. Start small with jobs you know your children can handle.
  2. Invest time in on-the-job training. It’s amazing what kids can accomplish with specific instruction.
  3. Stay positive. These jobs are optional, so there’s no need to nag. Children will buy into the system when they need money for something important to them.
  4. Start fresh each week. Pay weekly and let your children choose new jobs for the week ahead.
  5. Talk about money management strategies with your child—giving, saving, and planned spending.

Do your kids help with chores around the house? Paid or unpaid?

Amber Peacock, M.S., M.Ed, developed an “Optional Paid Jobs for Happy Workers” chart as an experiment five years ago when her children were 5, 8, and 10. She’s tweaked the job list and pay scale over time, but the system is the same. Her kids love getting to choose their own chores and having control over how much money they earn each week. She loves having help around the house, but says the best part is that her children never ask for money. They’ve learned how to earn and manage their own.

Growth Spurts: On the Way

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source: summerbl4ck

In our October 2012 issue, you can learn about childbirth class and not smoking on our Growth Spurts: On the Way page. Here are a few more pointers we couldn’t squeeze in the magazine.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes shows up as a complication for some mothers during pregnancy. Your doctor will test you between weeks 24 and 28. Typically, you can control gestational diabetes with a healthy lifestyle.

  • Eat healthy foods. If you test positive for gestational diabetes, your health care team can help create healthy meal plans for the duration of your pregnancy.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise helps keep blood sugar under control. Consult with your doctor about how often to exercise and what types of exercise are appropriate for you.
  • Monitor blood sugar. Your blood sugar levels can change quickly. Check with your doctor about how often to check your blood sugar.
  • Take insulin. Sometimes pregnant women with gestational diabetes need to take insulin. Take insulin only as directed by your doctor.
  • Get tested after pregnancy. Get tested for diabetes again 6 to 12 weeks after delivery and then every 1 to 3 years. Typically, gestational diabetes goes away after delivery. However, 50 percent of women with gestational diabetes develop Type 2 diabetes later in life. Consult with your doctor about being retested and continue maintaining a healthy lifestyle of eating well and exercising.

DOCTOR Appointments

Mom, be prepared to attend several doctor’s appointments. The first visits will be scattered apart with a preliminary ultrasound to confirm the baby’s heartbeat. The appointments will become more frequent the closer you get to your due date.

 

Are you pregnant? If so, how far along? I (Jessie) am almost 16 weeks with my third baby. I’ve found lemon-lime glucose drink is the trick to having the gestational diabetes test without gagging!

A Trusting Mother by Nancy Cornwell

 

As a mother, my job is to take care of the possible and trust God with the impossible. ~ Ruth Bell Graham

 

 

nancycornwell.jpgWow! How true is that statement? There are so many things we do each day as parents. We make sure to feed and bathe our children. We provide them with shelter and love. We help them with their homework and encourage them when they are having a bad day. We clean the house, do the dishes and the laundry, take care of the pets, pay the bills, get the oil changed in the car, and the list goes on and on.

I don’t know about you, but my list also includes worrying about things I can’t control. As a mom, I think that usually comes with the territory. My youngest daughter, Emmalyn, will soon be 5 months old. The day after she was born, testing showed that she has profound hearing loss. There were so many times in those first weeks when we were following through with more testing to confirm her diagnosis that I wondered what could have caused it and what we could do to fix it.

As her diagnosis was confirmed, my husband and I came to realize that while this isn’t something we would choose for our daughter, her hearing loss is not life threatening. There are treatment options available for her. Now, at almost 5 months of age, she is already wearing hearing aids and is in therapy. Doctors tell us that she should progress at a normal rate of development because her hearing loss was found at such an early age.

We are blessed. And more than that, we realize that God knew everything about our sweet Emmalyn long before we did. We are learning to give our fears and worry up to Him.

Our oldest daughter, Lilliana, is 4 years old. For the first time this week, she asked me, “Mom, why can’t Emmalyn hear?” and I told her, “That’s the way God made Emmalyn.” Her response? “Mom, I’m going to pray and ask Jesus to let Emmalyn hear.” Her faith blows me away. As parents we need to remember that our God can do anything He wants to do. We need to trust Him and let Him take care of those things we think are impossible.

 

 

Nancy Cornwell is the content editor of ParentLife.