Rules for Kids and Teens

Have you ever gone to your friend’s house and seen a long list on their fridge? When you ask them what it is, they say, “It’s the rules of the house that our kids must follow”. Rules for teens and tweens

It’s times like this that make me wonder, how on Earth do they remember which kid broke what rule and what that consequence was that was given.

Most days I’m going to work without putting deodorant on because I forgot.

When I first moved into the house with my husband and two stepdaughters, I was one of those people that had that long list of rules.

However, there was no list on the fridge because my memory was pretty good at the time.

But, of course, I know there were consequences that I let slide and rules that I let be broken because I forgot.

After a while my husband did write up contracts with each girl. In it was mostly about curfew, what happened when they broke a rule, or something about electronics.

Do you think they ever read it? Probably not.

Why read something when we would let them know when they fucked up anyway? I get it.

Maybe it’s just old age or the tiredness of it all but as I’m doing some research on this topic, I wish there were no rules. I think every parent wishes this.

If every kid just did what they were supposed to do. If they didn’t you would just talk to them about it and they would understand and it would never happen again.

Yes, I know, I’m in La La Land. Okay, back to reality.

If you are a parent that doesn’t want their children to have rules but want them to grow up to be well respected adults, here are 5 main guidelines that I feel they should follow.

Respect

This is one of the easiest things to loose but the hardest to gain next to trust. They should respect their elders, friends, family, and most importantly you.

Tell the truth

If you are constantly being lied to by your child, you will constantly thinking that anything that comes out of their mouth is a lie.

This is one rule that we will always have in our home. The consequence for lying is going to be way worse than if you just told us the truth.

I have asked a couple of teenagers on why they lie and here is what I found out. They are afraid to get in trouble or that their siblings will get into trouble, and afraid that you will be disappointed in them for what they did.

And they are afraid to get yelled at.

Now I know that telling them the consequence for lying is going to be way worse than if you just told us the truth right away, is a waste of breathe. I know this because we have said this over and over again with our two girls.

I think as parents we forget one key element when it comes to this. Letting them know what that other lesser consequence would have been.

We always say what the greater consequence is but next time try mentioning the lesser one.

And when they do tell you the truth about something, yes you may get really pissed off but remember you want them to tell you the truth, mention what the greater consequence would have been.

Keep a safe and clean home

This means no stealing from each other and respecting each other’s things.

Pick up after yourself. Nobody likes living with a slob. Pick up your own toys and shoes. If something sits someplace it shouldn’t for so many days, it’s now the property of the house.

When the girls were younger we had a big tub that everything went into. If you wanted to get it back then you had to pay a quarter for each item you wanted back. If it stayed in the tub for so long then it would go to Goodwill.

Be kind and helpful

Be king to one another. If you see someone struggling with groceries or fixing a broken toy, ask if they need assistance.

They may not always need your help but it’s always nice to be offered the help.

Use please and thank you

One thing that others will notice about your children is if they say their please and thank you’s without being told by an adult. Teach them this at a young age.

So there you have it, the top 5 guidelines all children should have in any home.

Here are a few rules extra rules that we have in our house. Some of them are for when your children are a little bit older as well. Some of them may coincide with the five above.

Having boys in the house when we are not home

As I stated above, we have two daughters and our oldest daughter has a lot of male friends that she hangs out with. So as worried parents of a teenage daughter we made this rule.

As long as we were not home, then those male friends could not be at our house. As she is getting older and gaining our trust more on the subject, we now base it on situational.

Such as, if we know we are going to home within the hour, it is okay to have those friends over.

Drinking and driving

You remember when you were younger going to parties, drinking, and driving home. I know I do.

Most kids are going to do at least once. I know that not all teens drink or do drugs and those teens are smart not to but most will at least try it in high school.

Keeping them from going to a party is a bad idea because then this will lead to lying on what they are doing that night. And you definitely don’t want that.

So the rule here is to let them know if they are drinking to call you and you will come get them. The only exception to the rule is if they are staying at that friend’s house that night or if they have a sober cab home.

You should let know to also not get in a car with a friend that has been drinking either.

Chores

Every kid should have some kind of chores around the house, whether it is emptying the dishwasher, cleaning their room, mowing the lawn/shoveling snow, or picking up sticks.

Of course no kid likes to do chores, sign up below to learn more about some fun ways to get your kids/teens to do chores.

Going to friends, have to ask

I feel that this is pretty self-explanatory. If your kids want to go to their friends, they have to ask.

One thing that always drove me nuts is when they would go to their friends and then the next day when you had plans they would call you up and ask when you are coming to get them.

Ummmmm. And you don’t want to inconvenience the other parent either.

At our house, if you wanted to go to a friend’s house you had to have all the details right away or the answer was no.

  • Where are you going?
  • How are you getting there?
  • When are you leaving?
  • How are you getting home and what time?

Honesty

Honesty goes hand in hand with truth. Be truthful and honest with us and you are pretty much in the clear.

My oldest stepdaughter catches me off guard sometimes when she is brutally honest.

I’ll ask her if she disobeyed one of the rules and she will say yes I did without even flinching. As a parent, this is something that is much unexpected.

I feel that she tells the truth now when asked because she lied once and got punished severely for it.

Must ask before you borrow

If you have a thief in your home that is doing it more than once even after being talked to, I would look at the underlying issue being a little more severe such as drugs.

I know that no parent wants to think that their child would take that route but the world is an evil place.

There are many temptations that kids have even more so that what we did when we were their age. Asking to borrow anything shows a sign of respect for that other person.

Do your homework

Complete your homework, plain and simple. This is the one job that they have to do. If you need help, we are always there for them but we can’t help if they don’t ask.

Clean room

This ties in with keeping a safe and clean home. Their room should also be clean.

The one thing I hate the most is if I have company over and they want a tour of the house, opening a door to a tornado is not ideal.

Curfew

You are at a party or a friend’s house and it’s almost your curfew so you jump in your car and speed home just to make it on time so you don’t get grounded or yelled at.

I know that this is one topic that many people can disagree on. We do give our daughters a curfew when they are younger but once our oldest got her license that changed.

The reason being is because she has proven to us that she can be responsible and we don’t want her racing home just so that she doesn’t break curfew.

Before she goes out for the night she will let us know what time she will be home that night. If we don’t agree then we will negotiate a time.

If she is going to be later than that time then she must let us know. This also works both ways.

We also let them know when we will be home and if we are going to be later.

Electronics

This is becoming a huge deal in today’s society.

This subject could have a post just for itself but I’m going to touch on it just a little bit and tell you a couple of rules that our teens have.

  • No phones at the dinner table.

This includes when out to eat as well as at home. This is a special time to spend with them and you get to hear about their day, especially when your kids are older and are in extra circular activities or work.

  • No phones at bedtime.

We have a charging station where they can turn their electronics off and charge them overnight.

This gives them uninterrupted sleep from friends texting or snap chatting in the middle of the night. It’s also not good to be looking at that screen right before bedtime either.

Don’t fix all of their mistakes

The only way that they are going to learn from mistakes is if you let them make them and fix what went wrong.

You are not always going to be there for them. They need to learn to live without you. That’s the Cold hard truth.

In our home, we are always open for discussion.

If they don’t think that a rule is relevant anymore or want it changed, they know that they can come to us and we will have a discussion about it.

No, it doesn’t always mean that the rule will be changed or removed but possibly. It depends on what their rebuttal is and why they think it should be changed.

There are times where we will agree to not have a certain rule but if it starts to become an issue in the future than we may have to bring that rule back into play.

Everything is negotiable.

When creating rules in your home, I will leave you with a few thoughts on coming up with rules and negotiating with your kids on what those rules should be.

    • Consequences should be relevant to the rule
    • Be consistent with the rules and consequences
    • Be open to discussions
    • Try to be open-minded and listen
    • Write up contract if teenager is being difficult
    • Have clearly defined rules that apply to all teens regardless of gender

Rules for teens and children

Every child wants to be heard and respected just like us.

Keeping an open mind to their ideas and listening to what they have to say shows that you care what they think and how they feel.

Of course, not every situation is going to end up the same but working with them instead of against them will bring you closer together.

A letter to my stepdaughter

Dear Stepdaughter,

I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be a stepmom. But I’m here and I just want to thank you for being in my life and letting me be a part of yours. You and your sister have changed the way that I see the world. You’ve taught me so many lessons and I am so lucky to have you!

The first thing I want to tell you is that I know how much it sucks to have divorced parents. It totally sucks! My parents split when I was too young to remember, and a part of me always thought that they would get back together. I’m glad that they didn’t because now I have an amazing stepdad who wants nothing but the best for me.

I also want you to know that I know how difficult everything is for you on a daily basis. Having two separate homes, two separate sets of belongings, and not being able to see your mom or dad every day. I know it’s pretty tough.

If I could change this for you, I would. Even though, if your parents hadn’t chosen to go their separate ways, you wouldn’t be in my life today. So because I can’t fix it, I’ll just promise to try and be the best stepmom possible!

When I decided to date your dad, I braced myself for some rebellion from the two of you. Some tricks, some attitude, some trouble. Because that’s how I was when I was a child of separated parents. You push them just to see how far they will let you go.

Thank you for being so patient with me as I adjusted to having life with kids…constant background chatter, extra dishes, shoes everywhere, the crazy extracurricular schedule. It was all new to me and it took a while to get used to. I’m still learning every day.

Thank you for being patient with me when I had no idea what to do when it came to being a stepmom…rules, structure, guidance, snacks, G rated language. All the simple tasks seemed overwhelming because they were all new to me.

Thank you for not writing me off on the days when I wasn’t at my best and felt overwhelmed and scared. The days when I may have been quicker to snap or seemed off on my own world. You could have chalked me up as that evil stepmom…but you didn’t.

Thank you for not making a scene when the server at the restaurant refers to me as your Mom. I know it’s uncomfortable, but you handle it with grace.

Know that when you leave and go back to your Mom’s house that I miss you. I miss you, as if you were my own child that I gave birth to. The house isn’t the same without you here. I miss all the little talks that we have, hearing about how your day went, what the new fashions are, and who is dating who in your social circle.

When I step back and think about the first day that we met, I never imagined that it would have taken us here. At a crossroads between love and deception. Love and hurt. Love and sadness. Many feeling surrounded me as I was told you weren’t coming back to our house that week.

I had to stop and think, did I do something wrong as a parent? Could I have done anything different? And the answer was no, no matter how many times I asked myself those questions. The answer was always no because with every decision that I make is because I love you and want what is best for you. There is always a reason or a lesson to be learned in the decision that your dad and I make for you.

In this case, the lesson was not learned. Which only says one thing…I failed as a stepmom. There has always been one thing that I dreaded most for you as my stepdaughter. Never play your parents love for you against each other. I sincerely apologize for allowing you to do this to your parents. To both of them.

It saddens me that I did not have this conversation with you. To teach you so that you would learn the side effects and consequences on how this could ruin the great relationship that you had with both your mother and father.

I understand, that as you read this or when you made your decision, you didn’t think of the consequences that would come from your actions. But here we are, in a world of anger, hurt, and disappointment. For each other and for ourselves.

I understand not wanting rules or consequences for your actions. I don’t want them either. But as you grow older, there will be more of them. From your boss, your peers, society, and even in the relationships that you choose to have. Rules are everywhere, from having to stop at a stop sign to not cheating on a boyfriend. Every action that you choose will have a consequence, good or bad.

The chosen action here…to stay at mom’s house.

Why? To hurt us. To get even. To let us know that our rules suck. To me, none of that matters. The only thing that I see from this is a teenage girl that has a Dad that loves her and would do anything for her and she is choosing to not be with him.

There are so many kids out there without a dad or mom. Either their parents died when they were young or their parent just didn’t want to bother getting to know them. Those kids would do anything to have a Dad like yours.

Someone that loves them, spends time with them, and cares enough about them to call them or send a simple text message. Everything that your Dad does is for you and because of you. He lives, breathes and works his butt off so that you can have a better life. So that you can experience and see the things that he didn’t get to when he was younger. To teach you and show you how to be a better person.

You DON’T have a dead beat Dad, who refuses to pay child support. Never calls or texts. Never goes to a school function, dance recital or competition.  Never gave you a birthday or Christmas present. Never said ‘I love you’ or would ever miss your wedding.

Stop taking what you have for granted. Those kids who have lost their Dad at a young age would give anything to give them just one more hug, one more I love you. Not everyone has what you are trying to throw away. A whole other family that loves you and wants to spend time with you. Choosing anything else but your family is always the wrong choice. Your family will be there for you no matter what, especially your dad. Remember, not everyone has one.A letter to my stepdaughter...where did I go wrong?

We have always said that anything is open for discussion. Any past rule or consequence can always be discussed. Communication is HUGE. In relationships, with peers, and at work. We don’t know what is wrong unless it’s said. If you can’t communicate with us on what you need, then you will have a very difficult adult life until you can start communicating your feelings.

With love,

Your Stepmom

Teens and Drugs

Tonight as I stand in the waiting area at my karate studio, I hear the most disturbing news. One of my fellow karate members, who is a Junior in high school, says that most of the Freshman class at her school are vaping.Teens and drugs, what the signs are and how to talk to your teen

I was not all that shocked by this news because my stepdaughters have told me the same thing about four months ago. However, it is disturbing and scary to think that this is what the world has come to.

Our kids are getting younger when exposed to drugs that are harmful to them. We, as parents, need to know what the signs are and inform our children what their friends don’t tell them. Below are some signs and symptoms to watch out for:

Some sings that your kids might be using
  • Track marks on arms or legs (wearing long sleeves in the summer)
  • Smells of alcohol or marijuana on breath or body
  • Red, flushed cheeks or face
  • Blood shot eyes or dilated pupils
  • Unexplained changes in attitude, mood, increased irritability
  • Silent, uncommunicative, avoids eye contact
  • Acts sneaky and secretive
  • Decreased motivation/loss of interest
  • Spends a lot of time in their room
  • Sudden drop in grades
  • Sleeping in class
  • Defiant behavior
  • Reduced memory and attention span
  • Frequently breaks curfew
  • Disappearance of money or valuables
  • Laughing at nothing
  • Chewing gum or mints to cover breathe
  • Lack of coordination
  • Sudden appetite
  • Makes endless excuses
  • Sweatiness
  • Headaches
  • Nosebleeds
  • Frequent sickness
  • Nauseous
  • Vomiting
  • Always thirsty

Here are a few drugs that your teen may be getting involved with and the damage they can cause:

The e-cigarette and vaping

The e-cigarettes still do have nicotine in them which has been shown to be addictive and can damage adolescent’s long-term brain development. It may lead to severe respiratory illness if inhaled as vapor.

Even if you’re not vaping it yourself you can be exposed to those chemicals by breathing contaminated air. Once your children start vaping, it can lead into smoking traditional cigarettes. Treat vaping like any other harmful drug.

Alcohol

The side effects for alcohol are as follows: hypertension, weakening of the heart muscles, anemia, decrease in thinking ability, loss of memory, severe ulcers, cancer of the esophagus, and scarring of the liver.

Marijuana

Paranoia, impaired short term memory, impaired motor coordination, altered judgment, poor educational outcome, less life satisfaction and achievements, chronic bronchitis, cognitive impairment with lower IQ, altered brain development, and schizophrenia.

These are just a few of the most common drugs that teens start to use that can lead into other harder drugs like methamphetamines or cocaine, just to name a couple.

We need to let our children know that they are not alone and we can help them with the peer pressures that they are facing as teenagers.

Here are some ways to help your child stay healthy and help your child to not take a wrong turn in life.

Avoid Lecturing

Avoid lecturing your teenagers and use your power minimally. If you are constantly yelling or lecturing your children to do what you want them to do they will rebel against you.

They will start to rely on external sources for moral judgement and make them more susceptible to peer pressure.

Instead, model values, use positive language and guidance. Model your values, showing them that everyone has pressures that they experience.

Model that you can overcome those pressures by believing in yourself and without the leaning on drugs or alcohol. Show them what to do not what they should do.

Provide positive discipline.

Kids will be kids; they need to learn from their mistakes. Yes, they will make mistakes.

If you don’t let them make mistakes, they will not know how to handle that situation down the road. And you may not be there for them in the future to help out.

Brainstorm together

Brainstorm together on what the good and bad choices are. When they come into a certain situation, they will have an idea on how to react.

Let them know that now is the time in their lives that they will make these hard choices so when they are older, their decisions in life will be much easier.

They will grow into the person that they want to become.

The choices that they choose now, will follow them for the rest of their lives.

Ask them to think ahead 5 or 10 years, ‘will they be able to live with themselves for making that decision’? Is it the path that they want to go down and possibly stay on?

Certain situations are harder than others to get out of, such as becoming addicted.

Wholesome activities

Get them involved with activities such as sports or music. This keeps them preoccupied with something positive so that they don’t have time to veer off down a dark path.

Stay involved

Stay involved with their lives.

Ask them questions about their day or who’s dating who now in their group of friends. Staying connected with them shows that you care about their social life.

They are teenagers, everything in their world revolves around them. Staying close helps show them that you care what happens in their life.

Spend more time with them AND their friends. Get to know their friends.

Take your children out for ice cream or do a fun activity with them a couple of times a month. Staying connected with them will lessen the chance of them trying to find that closeness with others that don’t care about their life.

Give them an out

Giving them an out will help them when they are in a sticky situation. So be that out for them.

‘My mom or dad isn’t that cool, if they found out, AND THEY WILL because they always now everything. I would be so grounded and I don’t want to be grounded’.

Let them know that they can use you as an excuse when they are in a jam and being pressured to do something that they don’t want to do or know that they shouldn’t.

Be the perfect role model

This may be difficult if you use drugs and drink alcohol yourself. Try not to do it in front of your children.

If you are a smoker, try involving your teen in your quitting process. Such as letting them know why you started and how you plan on quitting. Let them know that you want to be healthy to live a long life to see your grandchildren grow up.

I know quitting a habit is hard but when you have a reason to do it, it can help.

Do the talk

Sit down and have a talk with them. Let them know what the side effects are. Children are more apt to listen if you tell them the short term side effects versus the long term.

They think that they are either doing it now in high school and probably won’t continue or, for them, it’s too long of a time frame to think about.

Talk about the now.

A big one that really got to my oldest stepdaughter is that she lost friends because of it. They became so corrupted with smoking weed that they are not the same people that they used to be.

Talk to your children about the short term effects and point out real life example if you have any. If not, ask friends and family members or do a google search for some examples.Teens and drugs, what the signs are and how to talk to your teen

Educate your children on what they don’t know and what their friends aren’t telling them because they don’t know.

Be there for them and give them the help that they need. Most of the time they just want someone that will listen to them without judging them.

Why we yell at our kids and how to stop

STOP yelling at me!Why we yell at our children and how to stop

Do you often feel that every time you ask your kids to do something, it normally ends up in a yelling match? Either they tell you that they don’t want to do what you asked or they just don’t complete the task.

When it comes to household chores and things that we just don’t want to do, it’s difficult to follow through on these tasks.

When I was younger all I wanted to do on summer vacation was watch tv, sunbathe, and relax. However, that was not always the option of the day for me. There were chores to be done just like any other household.

“Everyone that lives in the house should learn to carry their own weight. There are no freebies here.”

I actually just came up with that. It should be placed on the wall and every time the kids complain, just point at it.

So, how do we stop yelling at our kids?

Before we talk about that subject I think we have to dig a little deeper and ask ourselves, ‘why do we, as parents, yell?’

In order to stop yelling at our kids for something that they did or didn’t do we, as parents, need to stop yelling. Period.

Yell Less, Love More: How the Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids – and How You Can Too!: A 30-Day Guide That Includes: – 100 Alternatives to … Steps to Follow – Honest Stories to Inspirewhy parents yell

Why we yell at our children and how to stop

Here are some reasons that we yell at our kids and solutions to stop yelling in general:

You don’t feel heard

You asked your child to take out the garbage yesterday but it still isn’t done. Today they ask you if they can get a ride to the pool so they can meet their friends.

You think and ask yourself, ‘did they hear me‘? Yep, I know they did because they were looking straight at me and rolled their eyes when I asked them to take the garbage out.

Therefore the answer to this question should be ‘NO’. If they don’t want to complete a chore that you ask them to do, then why should you want to do them any favors?

Explain to them that it’s a two way street, a give and take relationship.

You are tired

Well, there is only really one answer for this…get more sleep.

I know that being a mom/dad or step/foster or any other can be exhausting. You want to do everything and anything for your kids but in order to do that you have to take care of yourself first.

Not eating correctly

Being a parent can be crazy and hectic especially when your children are younger and in every sport imaginable.

Stopping at the first fast food drive through does save on time but you (and your children) need to eat healthy.

While you watch them at a game bring healthy snacks to eat instead of chips or unhealthy snacks.

You are overwhelmed

With everyone in life coming at you all at once it can get overwhelming.

There may be days were you need to just take a step back and let your family help you out.

You and your husband are a team, let him be a husband. If you are single, possibly have one of the older children help out or another family member.

It doesn’t have to be all the time just enough so that you can get control of your life again.

You are disorganized

Nothing sucks worse than being unprepared for you child to come at you crying because they lost their favorite doll.

Imagine if you come home from work, your children are running around screaming, and your husband is sitting on the couch and has the television blaring.

Talk about chaos.

Some people work well under pressure but others do not.

Get a planner and use it. And give everyone else some responsibilities each night as well.

The children can help set the table and your husband can help start supper and have a glass of wine waiting for you on the counter when you get home.

Oh, sorry, I started daydreaming there for a second. Back to reality.

Really all I’m saying is that everyone can help chip in, even if it’s just a little bit.

Being organized is the best way to stay on top of things so you are ready for anything that comes at you.

So now you know what YOU can start working on to stop yelling. It’s not always about what your kids did wrong, it may be what kind of mood you are in that day.

Now that we have the yelling under control and understand why we yell I will talk about how to get them to listen.

Calm the F*ck Down: The Only Parenting Technique You’ll Ever Need

Talk to your child, not at them

I feel that there is a lot involved with this. I grew up in a time were you did not question your parents or elders. You did what you were told to do.

Having children grow up in a different time than you did we sometimes forget that times have changed. And we as parents must change with those times.

I am not saying that your children have the right to disrespect you or their elders. They do not.

If we want our children to grow up and respect others we must show that respect to our children as well. If we don’t show them respect then how will they learn to respect others?

When you talk to your children, don’t yell at them and tell them that they need to complete a certain task because you are the boss. Talk to them calmly but firmly.

Listen to their ideas and pay attention to how they react. Calm them down if you need to.

If they have an idea, don’t shoot it down right away. Listen to what they have to say and consider using their idea.

If you need some time to think about the idea, let them know that. And follow up on it within a day or two, whether you agree with them or not. But also let them know why you don’t agree.

If you yell, they will yell

If you start to raise your voice or they start to raise theirs, it’s inevitable. It will become a yelling match.

Once you realize that you are raising your voice, stop. First clam yourself down and start talking in a whisper.

Eventually they will soon mimic you. Or if they don’t, stay calm. They will eventually calm down themselves.

This rule is always a hard you for me, especially with my oldest stepdaughter. She is a lot like her father, very stubborn and opinionated.

There was one time that I will never forget. She was arguing with me about something, I do not remember what it was about but she was yelling.

I realized that I had started yelling as well but calmly told myself that if I stop, then so will she. So I started talking softly and tried to calm the situation but she was not backing down with her yelling even after I would mention to her in a soft calm voice to please stop yelling at me.

I eventually lost my cool and starting yelling at the top of my lungs at her. It was not my proudest moment as a stepparent but I hit my limit.

Looking back at the situation, I feel that it would have been best to just say that we both needed to cool down and think things through and talk about it in a couple of hours or even the next day.

Sometimes it is best to take a step back from the situation and think about what your next steps are going to be.

Follow through on consequences

I feel that this one gets overlooked at times, especially in my household.

If we are punishing our children for doing something wrong, in that heat of the moment you come up with some kind of consequence for their actions and then it’s forgotten.

The reason I say this happens in my house is because we forget that we told them that consequence.

Now I’m pretty good at remembering things that I said but as we get older or are in the heat of the moment a couple of hours later, it becomes a blur.

If you tell them a consequence for doing something wrong, make sure to follow through on it. Write it down if you have to.

If you don’t follow through, they will remember that. Then when the next time comes and you give them a different consequence and actually follow through with it, they start to get confused.

They start to think that this situation is more severe than the other one because they actually got punished this time.

If you don’t plan to follow through on the consequence, then don’t give them one. If you think talking it through with them made your point and they won’t do it again, then that’s great.

Sometimes that’s all it takes.

Also let the natural consequences speak for themselves. 

If they lost a toy or broke it, don’t replace it. They need to know that they have to take care their stuff.

Explain ‘why’ to them

Explain why they shouldn’t stand on the chair. Especially for younger children, explain why they shouldn’t do something.

Don’t just say no or don’t do that.

Let them know what you want them to do instead.

For older children, explain why you made the decision that you did.

My oldest stepdaughter told me that she thinks it’s stupid that we have them bring all electronics to the main level before they go to bed.

This rule has been in effect for awhile but she had to deal with the consequences of not following that rule twice in one week.

The consequence is that they can not have the electronics in their rooms the whole next day but they can still use them in the main common areas and even take them if they leave the house.

I had to reminder her on why the rule came into effect which was simply because we felt they were not getting enough sleep.

Even if they went to bed early, doesn’t mean that their friends are constantly snap chatting them and their phone is constantly going off.

Children need a fair amount of sleep each night. A couple side effects of lack of sleep are depression and stress.

Praise positive behavior

Let them know when they do something good.

It makes us as adults feel good when our bosses say we did a great job on a project so praise your kids.

They like to hear positive feedback too.

Also let them know when you messed up. If you start yelling, apologize. It is difficult to admit you were wrong and even more difficult to admit it to your kids.Why we yell at our children and how to stop

Stand up to your mistakes. Your children will see this and know that it is okay to mess up once in awhile, everyone does. It also shows them to own up when they do.

No one wants to yell their kids so stay strong and remember that the number one things is to take care of yourself.

First understand why you yell.

Second is to understand your children and listen to them.

Why Step Parenting Is Harder Than Parenting

The STEP portion of parenting

Parents have it hard with raising children. Yes, raising children is hard work, I will agree with that, especially when they try to test your boundaries.

There are many thing that children need from their parents.

To be loved but not coddled

Taught what is right and wrong but they also need to make their own mistakes

Heard but not judged

Encouragement and compliments and for you to never yell or lose your temper

For you to show interest in their interests but not get too involved

Spend time with them but not too much time

Ask them about their future but don’t nag them about it

Give them independence but still parent and don’t neglect them

Be nice to their friends but don’t be their friend’s friend

Give them food, clothing, and shelter because those are the expectations of bringing a child into this world

Brag about them but never complain about them

Tell them that you love them because every child needs to hear this from their parents.

Children need all of these things and probably more to live a healthy loving lifestyle and you as parents feel that you must give it all to them.

That is what being a parent is all about; they want what is best for their children.

Parents want to give their children everything that they themselves had AND didn’t have growing up.

What if I said that this is also true of stepparents?

OOOHHHhhhhh, WWWwwwhhhhhaaattt? Wait, just a minute.

Yes, stepparents feel this way about their stepchildren has well. They also want them to have a healthy loving lifestyle and grow up to be amazing people.

So as parents are dealing with just being parents, stepparents are dealing with the ‘step’ portion of parenting as well as parenting. (Even if they don’t have their own children)

This is why stepparenting is harder than parenting.

Here are some of the added on responsibilities that stepparents have to hurdle over.

Love at first site?

A relationship can take years to develop between stepparent and stepchild.

This does not happen overnight.

Some divorced parents think that it does but it does NOT.

It’s not like the day your child is born, the first time you look into those eyes, it’s love at first site.

Your world, at that moment, has changed forever.

This does not happen when the person you are dating sees your child for the first time.

Let’s be real, a relationship takes time to build.

Eventually, yes, your significant other will grow to love your children and want what is best for them but it does not happen at first site.

High Expectations

Following the love comes the high expecttations.

Living up to your partner’s high expectations can be exhausting.

The expectations that I’m talking about are for you to jump into the role of that missing parent so you can all be a ‘real‘ family.

The problem is, in the beginning, you start to feel this unwanted pressure from your partner.

They may want this to happen sooner than you or the children are ready for.

These high expectations are not healthy.

Sometimes a stepparent needs to take a step back before negative feelings and resentment builds.

More forgiving of a parent

Forgiving my parent is so much easier because they did not distill the punishment on me. Yes, this is what your stepchildren are thinking.

They were not getting punished as bad or as much before you came into their life.

Even if they have been getting punished the same, it’s so much easier blaming someone that they don’t know as well.

The higher level of tolerance

I believe this to be true because the parent raised the child since day one.

What I mean by saying this is; every fault of that child is their responsibility.

They have been showing them what is right and what is wrong in this world from day one up until you walked in.

They are more tolerant of putting up with the misbehaving’s that they may have or have never taught them up to that point.

You are coming into the picture and may feel that they should have already learned that lesson and don’t know that they haven’t.

When you say anything about it to your partner they will feel put down because in their eyes you are saying that they weren’t doing a good enough job at parenting.

Who are you to tell them that they have been doing a shitty job at parenting when you don’t have kids and don’t know what you’re talking about?

This can be an issue that blows up fast between you and your partner.

Never knowing when to speak up

As a stepparent do you know when the right time to speak up is? Is there a right time?

We, as stepparents tend to throw the sheet over our heads and hope not to be seen for fear of getting told,

‘you don’t have children of your own, you don’t know what you’re talking about’

OR 

‘You haven’t been around since they were two, you don’t know how they operate’

No stepparent ever wants to hear this, no matter how short or long you’ve been dating.

We were a kid once too; we know the ropes on what kids like to try and get away with.

So why is it that we hear, we don’t know what we are talking about? Have they been a parent before they had these children? A.K.A. another lifetime.

Do they know exactly what they are doing? No, they don’t.

When the relationship is new you should more than likely keep your mouth shut but if you live with your partner or are married, then you need to start speaking up.

Early on in the relationship it is not your place to say how the kids should be raised. If a certain situation is really bothering you, have a talk with your partner.

And as time goes on discuss with your partner about how much you would like to be involved in the children’s lives.

The child wants to be parented by their parent, not their stepparent

This is one of my biggest pet peeves at times, but I get it.

When I was younger, if I wanted to do anything, I would go to my mom before my stepdad any day of the week.

  1. It’s a natural instinct

2. (I felt) my mom was more opt to let me do what I wanted.

My stepdad came into my life when I was about 7 or 8 years old, you would think that when I was in high school going to him would be just as natural, but it’s not.

It really doesn’t matter how much I loved my stepdad and got along with him I always knew that mom was the softy.

Don’t get me wrong, there were times that she put her foot down too but again, I felt it, wasn’t as often.

Don’t take it personal when they don’t come to you first, for the most part it will always be that way.

The unhappy ex

Ah, yes, the ex.

This one is always fun; having an unhappy ex discouraging the kids from having a relationship with you.

Your stepchildren are the ex’s little spies; telling them every little detail down to the bio parent kissing evil stepperson in the kitchen.

God forbid, one of you be happy.

I know that this is a hard one to get used to but unless it’s physically harming you, let it go.

It’s not worth the drama. 

Just do your best and your stepchildren will eventually grow up and see what is going on.

You are the Saint that was there for them even though you didn’t have to be.

So this is why stepparenting is harder than parenting.

Stepparents get the blunt of everything and from everyone.

Stepparents,

Step into a relationship to help raise someone else’s child.

Often times give up their own happiness for a child they didn’t conceive.

Are portrayed as monsters even though they are saints.

Wait and hope for the day that they will be accepted, appreciated, and acknowledged but that day never comes.

Are parents who stepped up, stepped in and gave a shit about someone that they didn’t have to.

Stepparents are there because they want to be not because they have to be.

 
What stepparents go through

I am step-parent, hear me roar!

Ex vs. Ex. Which parent will the children choose to live with?

Children who don't want to deal with consequences so they live with the parent who doesn't give them any

Angry

Frustrated

Disappointed

Sad

Upset

Irritated

Discouraged

Disturbed

Many feelings surround me as I write this post but the one feeling that takes over all the others, is hurt.

It makes me stop and think, did I do something wrong or could I have done anything different?

The answer is, no.

Most kids use the parents against each other because they are looking for sympathy.

They want their parents to loosen the reins on the punishment or on a rule that they don’t like or think is fair.

Instead of accepting what they did is wrong and dealing with the harshness of realities such as rules, they simply choose to go to a place they don’t have to follow those rules.

Of course this is easier. We all wish we could go to this magical place. For most children, it exists with one of their parents.

This is why co-parenting in every situation would be awesome!

Co-Parenting with a Toxic Ex: What to Do When Your Ex-Spouse Tries to Turn the Kids Against You

Co-parenting

As most of you know co-parenting is not always possible.

There are some parents out there that work together to find a common ground for the benefit of their children and their are some that banish it like the plague.

I wish that co-parenting was possible in all cases but when reaching out to some ex’s, it’s almost like you tried to start WWIII.

Co-parenting would be great if possible, however some people are still either stuck on the divorce or stuck on finding the approval of their children.

All parents want to do is what’s in the best interest of their child and working together as a united front would be in the best interest of any child.

Some find that gaining the approval of their children is more rewarding to them than actually parenting them.

When the kids are younger one must parent, not be their child’s besty.

The War

The war between parents. Which parent does the child like best? The mother or the father.

In the end this is what it boils down to.

One parent sets rules and the other parent doesn’t (the besty), of course the child will want to live with the parent with no rules or less strict rules. Pick me, pick me!

As the rule setting parent you look back and think to yourself, what did I do wrong?

You sit and think and then you think some more but eventually you come up with nothing because in reality you didn’t do anything wrong.

All you did was be the best parent that you could be.

You cared for your child so much you wanted them to get good grades, didn’t want them to stay out too late, and you want them to learn good morals.

In the end it didn’t matter what you wanted.

What matters most to a teenager is what they wanted at that point and time. Most don’t care who they hurt in their path as long as they are getting those reins loosened.

Co-Parenting with a Toxic Ex: What to Do When Your Ex-Spouse Tries to Turn the Kids Against You

 

Most teenagers, I would say, are selfish.

Along with this selfishness they try to see how many buttons they have to push in order to get what they want.

This is where the parents come into play.

The child knows at an early age which parent they can manipulate over the other.

This is where you need to stop them, both parents need to, not just one.

You are the parent, they are the child.

You make the rules and they need to follow those rules.

As parents, playing war on who won the popularity contest is not in the child’s best interest.

Dis-servicing your children

Winning the popularity contest is really just dis-servicing your children because you are not doing it for the child, you are winning for yourself.

In most situations, children of divorced parents will get what they want because their parents will cave in at some point.

A lot of divorced parents feel that it’s their fault that the child is going through this rough time in their lives because they feel bad about the divorce.

Co-Parenting with a Toxic Ex: What to Do When Your Ex-Spouse Tries to Turn the Kids Against You

 

This isn’t true.

It has nothing to do with the divorce and everything to do with being a teenager.

Just ask any other parent that isn’t divorced.

The only difference is those kids have no place else to go. Their stuck with both parents, co-parenting.

They don’t have an escape route.

Parenting Styles

There are a few different parenting styles but the one that you should be achieving is the one that benefits your child for the better.

You DO NOT want:

  • Your child to better like you over your ex. (a.k.a. win the popularity contest)
  • Suffocate them so they can’t breath.
  • Neglect them so they think you don’t care.
  • To avoid setting boundaries or discipline so they lack social skills and have insecurities

You WANT the following:

  • Be the authority figure in your child’s life.
  • Have high expectations for them.
  • Show them understanding and support for those high expectations.
  • There should be consequences that are understood and followed through.
  • And most importantly, the lines of communication should always remain open.

Co-Parenting with a Toxic Ex: What to Do When Your Ex-Spouse Tries to Turn the Kids Against You

Reaching Adulthood

If this continues into adulthood, those children, will not do well out in the real world.

There are a lot of employers out there that are getting sick and tired of the millennial children thinking that the world owes them something.

Their employment doesn’t last very long because they can’t handle dealing with the stress, the rules, and deadlines that are out there to keep a full time job.

Most of it has to do with showing up on time or just showing up at all.

A great work ethic is becoming a thing of the past.

Keep Your Cool

If things do go south and the children start yelling and tell you that they hate you, don’t take it personally.

They are in a heat of rage and upset with the situation.

For the most part, this is the situation that they put themselves into.

Keep your cool and keep an open mind.

If they choose to live at one house over the other because of consequences, or lack there of, they will regret it in the future.

Co-Parenting with a Toxic Ex: What to Do When Your Ex-Spouse Tries to Turn the Kids Against You

I will leave you with a couple of stories.

When I was in high school my younger stepsister didn’t want to live with us because at her mom’s house she could do what she wanted.

Her mom was a parent that didn’t set many boundaries or discipline.

Her senior year of high school she moved in with her dad full time and it has now been over two years that she has spoken to her biological mom.

My stepsister grew up and realized what kind of person her mother really was.

My cousin has a similar story with her stepson.

He wants to go to his mom’s house to see his brothers after school but wants his dad to come and pick him up before five so he doesn’t have to see his biological mom.

In both of these instances the child chose to live with the parent who had very few rules but in the end, it didn’t matter.

Now I know that this isn’t going to always be the case but we can only do our best as parents and stepparents.

Every parent loves their child and wants what’s in their child’s best interest, however they are children, they don’t always know what their best interest is.

That is why we have parents.

It’s having a mother and father that show the child support and work together, to the best of their abilities.

 
Which parent will the child choose to live with

20 Difficult Things To Understand About Dating Someone With Kids

Dating Someone With Kids

Dating is difficult especially in this day and age. Learn how to cope when dating someone who already has children

You no longer have to sit and wander, ‘are they going to call me’. It is more of ‘why did they send a text/snapchat instead of calling’.

I could probably go on and on about dating in general but you are here to learn about dating someone who has kids.

If you have kids of your own you probably know a little on what to expect but some of the information may be a surprise to you as well. If you don’t have kids of your own then you need to keep reading.

Adult Time

Imagine spending time with kids all day with not a single moment to yourself.

It does not matter how much they love their children, they still need some grown up time. They need time to get out of the house and interact with other adults and do adult activities.

Because let’s be honest, you can only play go fish so many times.

Give Them Time

If you are going on a date you may realize that they are tense or short with you at first. Keep in mind that this may have nothing to do with you.

They could have had a bad day at work, came home to the kids fighting with each other, and then rushed out the door to meet with you.

They may just need some time to unwind and decompress. They didn’t have the luxury of getting off of work and having a glass of wine or beer while getting ready for the date for the last half hour before meeting up with you.

Give them some time to cool down from the stress of the day.

The Single Girl’s Guide to Marrying a Man, His Kids, and His Ex-Wife: Becoming A Stepmother With Humor And Grace

They Know Themselves Better And Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Usually people with kids know themselves a little bit better than most. They may have been through a rough divorce or break up and know that they don’t want to go through that situation again.

They know what they want or don’t want in the next relationship.

When it comes to the small stuff, they don’t sweat it.

This small stuff relates to the relationship with you AND the kids. Any little thing that may drive you nuts, your significant other will take it with a grain of salt because tomorrow something bigger may happen that will need their attention more.

Don’t Expect Them To Get Back To You Right Away

If you call or send them a text, don’t expect a call or text back right away. They are probably busy dealing with a temper tantrum and can’t get to their phone.

Give them time to get back to you.

Don’t be an added on kid who throws a tantrum because you weren’t number one at the moment. (Refer to the ‘Kids Come First’ section below)


Dating the Divorced Man: Sort Through the Baggage to Decide if He’s Right for You

All Their Friends Have Kids

As you get older you may realize that everyone that they hang out with has kids too.

You will find yourself at a party trying to join in on the conversation however you have absolutely nothing to say because every topic revolves around kids. Once you meet the kids you will have stories of your own to share which is a blessing.

But this can be especially difficult when they start talking about the early stages, such as being pregnant and breast feeding. Things you may have never experienced.

Try to switch topics about the trip you took to the Caribbean and if they have any trip plans in their future.

Spur Of The Moment Trip

Living the single life is amazing; getting up when you want, going out when and where you want, and going on vacations when it is convenient for you.

When you are dating someone with kids, you have to remember that they do not have these luxuries in their life anymore.

Their schedule evolves around,

1) The kids

2) The schedule with the kids

3) The ex and their schedule

You have to learn to be a lot more flexible with your time.

Something that has helped me a ton is by using a shared calendar. This way you know when they have the kids and any activities that the kids may have going on.


The Single Girl’s Guide to Marrying a Man, His Kids, and His Ex-Wife: Becoming A Stepmother With Humor And Grace

Trust Issues

Depending on what happened in their last relationship, they may have some trust issues so be patient with them.

When they were with their ex, they saw some kind of future at some point, whether it was marriage and kids or just the kids.

They trusted that relationship with the ex was going to work and now that it did not, they don’t know if they can trust themselves to be in another relationship.

This will also have a lot to do with the kids and not knowing how to trust another person with them.

Just as it may be your first time dating someone with kids, it may be their first time getting close to someone after the split.

Give them time to trust again.

Introductions

Don’t expect to meet the kids on the first, second, or even fifth date. Your new significant other needs to get to know you first and you should do the same and get to know them.

Nothing sucks more for a kid as to keep meeting all these new ‘friends’ of their parent. Keep it just the two of you for a while; trust me you will miss these days when they are gone. No matter how much you get along with the kids.

Find out if the relationship is going to work between the two of you before meeting the kids.

Take Things Slow

I understand, you are seeing some of your friends settling down, getting married, and maybe having children of their own and you feel like the late bloomer.

Take your time, take things slow, get to know each other, get to know the kids, there is no rush.

I say this because the last thing your significant other is going to want to hear is anything about marriage. They not only have to worry about how it will affect them but how it will affect the kids as well.

Dating the Divorced Man: Sort Through the Baggage to Decide if He’s Right for You

When You Do Meet The Kids, Take Things Slow With Them

You are a new person in their now crazy split parent life. They have had a lot going on and have had to deal with a lot as a child already.

Take things slow with the kids and let them come to you. Don’t push them into liking you. This will help later on when you want to bond with your step children.

Kids Come First

This may take some getting used to if you have never had to share your significant other before.

Those kids mean the world to them and they will always be number one. The kids will always be chosen over you. Remember this.

With kids, there is no time for being selfish so you need to grow up and realize this if you want to stay with this person.

Don’t Criticize Them

When your significant other is complaining to you about something that the kids did, just listen to them. Don’t join in on the fun.

I have been with my husband for about 7 years now, and still to this day, when I complain about the kids a little too much I feel him take a step back.

I know that I need to stop talking because if I don’t I’ll reach that point to where he wants to scream at me ‘My kids are angels’.

Of course this has not happened but you will know when they flip the switch and start defending the kid that they themselves were just complaining about.

Allow Them To Parent

In the beginning, it is not your place to discipline the kids.

Let your significant other be the parent and you should just relax and live the life of being kid free.

I am not saying that you should not be involved with the kids but any parenting decisions should be up to your significant other.

After taking the next steps in the relationship such as moving in or getting married, then would be the time to have a discussion on how much more you would be involved.

At Home Dates

Depending on how much your significant other has the kids; you may not be able to go out as often.

Stay at home and have home dates with movies and popcorn. Your significant other’s checkbook will appreciate this.

Remember, they no longer are just taking care of themselves and unless their a millionaire they probably won’t have the funds to go out every night.

Let Them Set The Price

They not only have themselves to worry about but depending on what end of the spectrum they are on can make a big difference.

Get to know what their price range is. They have a kid(s) to pay for whether it is child support, higher insurance, clothes, food, etc.; the list goes on and on.

Make sure that when you pick a restaurant or vacation spot that it is within their means.


How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Third Edition: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter

Don’t Drink Too Much

Kids have great memories.

There are times that I look back and will never forget when my stepdad yelled at me and took things to the extreme because he had been drinking.

Alcohol makes you speak your mind which isn’t always a good thing. Too much verbalization can scar a kid.

The Ex

No matter how you look at it, the ex will always be in the picture, some more than others.

They will be at sporting events, anything to do with school, church, graduation, wedding, grand-kids, they will be there.

Just remember, the ex is an ex for a reason.

Party With Your Friends

Life does get busy especially if the kids are in sports or other activities.

Time seems to slip away somehow and you forget about who you were before you met this amazing person.

You need time to get away and blow off steam too.

Don’t Cling Onto Adult Activities

When the kids are around find activities for all of you to do, don’t just stick with adult activities.

When the kids are able to play games, have a game night with them. This is your chance to be a kid again.

They will grow up remembering these times that you spent with them and your significant other will appreciate that you are trying to get to know them as well.

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Communication

This is a big one. Communication in any relationship should be number one. Let them know how you feel if something isn’t right to you.

They are human too.

I once read that when talking to someone, always start with ‘I’, never ‘you’. Using the expression ‘I feel…’ is better than saying ‘you made me feel…’ because when you say ‘you’ first, it sounds like you are attacking the person and they will immediately go into defense mode.

Dating someone with kids can be scary. There are a million questions that will go Learn how to cope when dating someone who already has childrenthrough your mind.

You don’t have to let the kids scare you though. Keep communicating with your significant other on how you feel, take others’ feelings into consideration, be patient with your significant other and the kids.

Above all, be yourself

 

Amazing truths about being a step parent

Here are the truths that no one tells step parents

Did you jump into being a step parent only to find out that it’s harder than you thought?
You are not alone!Truths about being a step parent
Trust me, there are thousands of step parents out there that are trying to understand. No one is telling us what to expect or how to handle the situations that we come across.
Here are some issues that you may come across that no one tells you about.

“All your stepchildren need is a friend”

Eeeaarrccchhh!!!! NO! They do not need a friend, however they do need someone that they can trust.

You can be a friend to them but you can not JUST be a friend. You need to be an authority figure, role model persona that you have to portray with them.

No, you are not there to be a replacement parent but you are there to guide them along their journey of life.

Your relationship with your partner must come first

Yes, make your relationship a priority over the kids.

This needs to happen because if you and your partner can’t make your relationship last then why are you even reading this post?

Your relationship needs to be strong and supportive of each other in order to

1) Survive all the bumps in the road and

2) Show your stepchildren what a real relationship is all about.

Putting your relationship with your partner first is for the benefit of your stepchildren.

Your stepchildren love you for just being you

They don’t love you because you brought them into this world but because you are you. Eventually, yes eventually, they will grow to love the person that you are.

Photo by Jose Silva from Burst

Your self-esteem will be put to the test

The kids will ignore you even if you did something nice for them. They can be cruel little people (especially when they hit the teen years).

At first, anything that you do will be judged by the ex no matter how long your partner has been divorced or separated.

Do not let them get you down though; you are a great person for taking on the task of helping raise someone else’s kids.

The ex will always be there to affect your relationship

The ex can affect your relationship in many ways but don’t let them because most of the time, they do not know that they are affecting your relationship.

This can happen through your partner or through the kids. Get used to the ex being in the picture because as long the kids are alive, so is the ex.

Parenting isn’t instinctive

Dating someone or marrying someone with kids does not necessarily mean that you will get those parenting instincts that everyone is talking about.

I’ve been with my husband for over 7 years and those instincts still haven’t showed their beautiful faces yet.

For instance, a child standing on a chair. You know they shouldn’t be up there as you watch intently but your reaction isn’t going to be the same as a biological parent’s is.

This does not mean that you don’t care about them or what happens to them, it’s just different.

Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst

Balancing the demands of your stepparent role

Remember when you were in high school and how awesome it would feel to be included? That is how you will feel when your step kids come to you instead of your spouse.

However, this is not always going to be a good thing. Your step kids tell you something that you should probably tell your spouse but you don’t want to break that trust that the kids have in you.

Do you say something, try to handle the situation on your own, or keep it to yourself? You have to make your best judgement call on this. If it is life or death, then yes, you need to say something.

Just be careful because kids can be tricky, they may be testing you as well.

You don’t have to love them

Falling in love with someone doesn’t happen overnight. Love takes time to grow.

It is not a prerequisite to being part of the family. You should however, be kind and thoughtful and act in loving ways.

If love does happen, that is a bonus.

It doesn’t matter how long their parents have been apart

How long their parents are apart won’t matter because the kids are still going to dream their parents are going to get back together someday.

The kids are still going to push you away and the ex will still show hate towards you no matter how nice you are to them.

Planning family get-togethers, let’s be serious

Unless the kids are younger and there is a set calendar, good luck!

This can be very difficult especially if you have a large family. Trying to find one day out of the year that everyone is free can be a huge challenge.

You not only have yourself to think about but your partner and the kids have to be free that day as well.

If the kids are in sports and those sports go into the holidays and weekends, oh and I can’t forget, or they just don’t tell you that they have an important game or meet that day you scheduled your family Christmas 6 months ago.

Why can’t they just look at the calendar and let you know? Because I know the phone is attached to their hip anyway, right?

Be prepared to be in a relationship with more than one person

You are not just in a relationship with your partner but also the kids and the ex.

Everyone has a say, whether it is about how the kids are raised or disciplined, especially if they aren’t at your house.

Making dinner can be a challenge

When I was a kid, I was a really picky eater and most kids are. This is not the only challenge with making dinners though.

If the kids are a little older and in sports, dinner is going to be more of a hamburger helper kind of night.

Making that time to sit around the table and talk about the day gets to be very difficult because of schedule conflicts.

Well there you have it. Most people walk into being a step parent and think they have it all figured out but soon realize, they don’t.

It’s not easy and it never gets any easier. Everyone is always going to have their challenges, the good days and the bad days.Truths about being a step parent

Just remember to take everything with a grain of salt. The most important thing that you should remember is that you are amazing for helping raise someone else’s children.

For more information check out The 3 Golden Rules to Step Parenting

Bonding With Your Step Children

Being in a new relationship always has its challenges but it is even truer when those challenges include children. I suggest, before even meeting the children make sure that the relationship that you are in, is serious.

Ways to bond with your step children

I don’t feel that it is fair to the kids if you meet them and then are not to be seen again.

The divorce or separation has already taken a toll on them; they don’t need more to worry about. Just make sure that you are ready for the type of commitment of raising someone else’s children.

If you do not want to get to know the children, step away from the relationship. But if you do, be prepared to feel rewarded with love.

Here are some guidelines to follow:

Bonding with kids
Photo by Nicole De Khors from Burst

Don’t force it (move slowly)

You can’t force anyone to like you just like you can’t force the kids to have a bond with you.

Move at their pace even if it takes a while for them to warm up to you. If you force them, they will try to move further away.

They will start to feel attacked and try to avoid you at all costs because they are afraid. Divorce can cause some kids to think that one parent may not want them.

This especially true if they only see that parent every other weekend when before they saw them all the time. They will not want to get close to someone else for fear that they too may leave.

Let them come to you.

Be Real.

Don’t be fake. If you are trying too hard to get to know them, kids will see right through this.

Be yourself and don’t try too hard to befriend them. If you are in the relationship for the long haul, you have all the time in the world to bond with them.

Show them the great person that you are and that you care about them.

Find something in common

Get to know the kids by finding what they are interested in.

Find common interests between the two of you and do the activity together, just the two of you.

If you don’t have anything in common, whatever the situation is, this would be a great chance to learn something new.

Showing them that you took the initiative to get to learn about their interests will excite them, especially if their parents don’t show an interest.

Be Swiss when it comes to the outside parent

Whatever you do, do not bad mouth the other parent even if they are bad mouthing you.

Stay away from this at all costs. Those kids love both their parents and you bad mouthing one or the other parent will put you in a bad place in the kids’ eyes.

The kids can talk bad about their parents but you cannot.

Bonding with step kids
Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

Time and effort

Put the time and effort into bonding with the kids. Bonding with someone does not happen overnight.

It will take time to get to know them and for them to come around and wanting to get to know you. Take the effort because if you don’t do anything, nothing will happen.

Treat it like you would any other relationship because you can’t expect someone to like you right away.

Allow time for the grieving process

Allow time for the kids to grieve the divorce.

Divorces can get messy and in these cases children need their space. They don’t always know what is going on or how to react because their life just got turned upside down.

Children need a routine.

One day mom and dad are there together, the next day one parent is gone and someone they have never met is in the house.

No matter how often you tell children that mom and dad are not getting back together, in the back of their mind it could still happen.

So you coming in will be the last thing that they will want at this point and they will fight because of it. Give them time to find that new routine.

Treat step children as family

Treat the kids like you would treat any of your other family members.

They are your family now too; it’s a package deal. Include them in on holidays and family get-togethers.

This will help with bonding with them because you are letting them into your world and they will feel included.

Getting your family involved as well is always a plus. What I mean by this is buying holiday gifts for all the grand kids not just the ones that are blood related.

Nobody wants to feel like they are left out, especially children.

bonding with kids
Photo credit by stockvault

Get lost at times

If your spouse has been single or divorced for a while the kids will have gotten used to this and in that routine.

They have mom or dad’s full attention at all times but when they start a new relationship, they feel that attention is no longer theirs.

Give them time to spend alone with their biological parent. Show the children that you don’t want to take their time away from that parent instead you want to add yourself to the mix.

Trust and honesty

Develop a relationship with trust and honesty with the children.

Show the children that you can keep their secret and won’t blab everything that the two of you talk about to your significant other. Be honest with them because this is the foundation of any relationship.

Tell them how it is and how it’s going to be.

You don’t have to sugar coat things for them, they will appreciate the honesty. Their biological parents are probably already sugar coating for them because most often they feel bad about the divorce or split.

Help with homework

Getting involved with their studies is a great way to bond with them.

Your spouse may not be great at all the subjects that the children are taking and you may know a little more in some than others as well.

Help each other out and work as a team.

Even having a different way of explaining problems to the children than your spouse can be helpful.

Be a cheerleader

Everyone likes a compliment or to be given praise so be that person for the kids.

Go to their sporting events or let them know that they did an amazing job on a science project. Giving them praise and being their biggest cheerleader raises you to number one in their books.

This shows them that you care about what they do or how well they do it.

Don’t play favorites

Whatever you do, don’t play favorites with anything or anyone.

This includes:

  • among your own children OR
  • between the two kids, if your spouse has more than one.

Treat everyone equally because kids grow up resenting that parent that played favorites.

Ask your partner for advice

If you are stuck in a dilemma that you aren’t quite sure how to react to, ask your partner.

They have been raising the kids since day one. They may have come across that situation before and know how to handle it.

It does not show a sign of weakness or that you can’t handle being a parent. If anything, it shows that you are willing to ask for help when you need it and work as a team to solve the problem.

Learn from others

Asking others that are in your same situation can help as well. Learning from others about their failures or achievements can give you a different perspective.

There are multiple times where I will call my step dad to get his advice versus calling my mom because, well, he helped raise me. I know exactly what I put him through.

Become part of a community that has gone through or are going through exactly what you are going through can be very helpful.

Being in a relationship with kids can be a lot of different emotions for you as well as for the kids.

Take a step back, give the kids space, and become involved in what they enjoy doing. Show them that you are their biggest cheerleader and that you want to become a part of their family instead of replacing the missing parts.

Talk things through and you will soon find that your bond with the kids is stronger than you imagined it would ever be.

Ways to bond with your step children

Traveling With Your Teen

Would you like to go on a trip and bring your teenager with you?

Planning a trip can be very stressful but planning a trip with your teenager can be extremely stressful.

Traveling with teens

But don’t let it be.

Weather you use a vacation planner or create your own trip spending time away from home it can be a blast with your teenager. Have some fun with it.

Below are some ideas on how to make the experience fun for both of you.

My husband, two step daughters, and I went to Costa Rica over Christmas one year and we had a blast. I love to travel and have been to multiple different countries.

During most of my traveling I plan my own vacations versus going through an agent because I enjoy the planning process. Not all people enjoy that part of the trip.

But for this particular trip to Costa Rica we decided that it would be best to go with a tour group. My husband can be a little bit of a worry wart so to set his mind at ease, I quickly agreed to this type of trip.

Whether if you are going to be with a tour group or planning the whole thing yourself, it is still necessary to include your teenagers with some of the decisions.

Don’t just spring a trip on teenagers

This doesn’t mean that you have to tell them every little detail about what you are doing but keeping them in the dark about the whole thing won’t make them too happy about going.

Let them have a say in some of the activities that you are going to do or certain cities that you will see.

If you can’t decide on where exactly you would like to go, give them your narrowed down list of places and get their opinion.

Don’t schedule their days from start to finish

Plan the morning going to a museum and then let them plan the afternoon or vice versa. This gives them a chance to research the area and see what there is available to do.

It can be difficult to find activities that everyone will enjoy.

This way you know that they are enjoying at least a few things on the trip.

Don’ts start every day at the crack of dawn

From sun up to sun down. There is no stopping the Smith’s. We are going to see it all.

Do you want that type of vacation because this is your vacation too? Remember that.

I love staying busy and seeing everything I possibly can because I am probably not going to go back to that destination again.

Some people cannot wait to get home to relax from their vacation. This is me.

But this may not be the way that your teenager saw how a vacation was going to be. Relax and have fun.

Sleep in a couple of days.

You deserve it because to your kids, at this point, think you are the best parent ever. As long as they are not at home, they are happy.

Give them room to roam.

Travel with your kids
image credit found at canva

Do not be a helicopter parent and hover over your teenagers the whole trip. Give them space to breath.

I know that being in a strange place can be scary because you don’t know anything about the neighborhood or the crime rates.

This does not mean that they can’t explore the hotel or the grounds that the hotel is on. Go out yourself and do a little exploring just to see the neighborhood and how safe you feel.

Ask the person at reception for advice.

Most higher end hotels have a concierge. Even if you are not staying in a hotel that has a concierge you can still walk into any hotel that has one and get tips from them.

Let them have space away from the family

Giving your teen their own space is essential because it gives them room to explore and spread their wings.

Letting them have time away from the family makes them feel a little more independent. This also teaches them independence when they are away from home without you as well.

When placed in these types of situations away from home their minds start thinking about how to handle certain situations.

This is great because you aren’t too far away if they do get stuck versus across country.

Let them explore.

Don’t unplug them completely

As a stepmom who grew up in a time where technology was just starting to come into fuision this is difficult because I don’t understand, to a millennial’s perspective, on why their phone is so important to them.

Times are different for our teens these days than it was for teens growing up 10-20 years ago.

If they can’t get their chat streaks in, the world just may come to an end.

This really depends on where you are vacationing and what your plan covers for WiFi on how much phone usage your teen would be able to receive.

Unless your teen has a really nice expensive camera, they are probably going to be using their phone for pictures.

Letting them use their phone for pictures throughout the day and music if you are in the car or on a bus is okay.

As for WiFi, if your plan does not cover international or other states, I feel it’s okay to use it at night while just relaxing after the long day.

Again this depends on your plan and what you can afford.

Let your teen know before the trip about their phone usage so that they don’t feel blindsided by this.

Broaden their horizons

Yes, bring them to a museum. Let them learn about the culture of where you are visiting.

It doesn’t matter if you are in the states or in a different country because being in the northern part of a certain state is different than the southern part.

You don’t have to go to a museum, historical landmark, or learn history every day or all day. You never know, you might actually find that it was their favorite part of the trip.

Travel to far away place with your teen
Photo by Tamara Chemij from Burst

Show them things they can’t see anywhere else

Ask yourself, why are you bringing them on vacation with you? Or, why do you even go on vacation?

You go because it is different and it is not home.

You go to see the things that you can’t see around your own area. So show them this.

Even if you are up north or down south, there is something there that you can’t see at home.

Sometimes it can be as simple as the World’s Largest Ball of Twine.

Yes, this is a thing.

Showing them new experiences can change their whole outlook on life or who they want to be.

Have fun

I am sure not every little second is going to be fun for either you or your teen but that is okay.

You have different likes and dislikes.

Your spouse of your other children will feel the same way.

You can’t always please everyone but having a little bit for everyone is what counts. Even if something is not fun, make it fun.

Make a game out of a long car or bus ride.

Explore a museum ahead of time on the internet and make up a scavenger hunt. Whoever wins gets to plan the rest of the day or where to eat that night.

You are together as a family, enjoy those special moments.

Taking trips with your teens can be an amazing chance to get to know them a little bit better. They will remember those moments that took their breath away.

Explore with them and show them a different part of the world by leaving the day to day routine behind. Even if it was just a trip around the corner, they will still remember it.

Tips on how to travel with your teenager