Archive for the ‘Stepfamilies & Children’ Category

3- Step “Super Secret” Formula to finally get your kids (and spouse) to listen

November 1st, 2011

Does your child have trouble listening to you? Are you feeling like a broken record, asking again and again for what you want, and feeling like you are being totally ignored? If you’ve asked for what you wanted and everyone in your household seems to ignore your request you’ll likely get to a point where you begin to wonder, “why isn’t this working, why aren’t they listening?”

You may begin to get to a boiling point, get mad, throw a fit,  threaten, just give in and take care of it yourself, or complain about all that you do for everyone in the house. What you’ll likely find is that when you reach your boiling point and react (or just take care of it yourself while silently resenting your family members), others may for a short period of time take notice.  Heck, you may even get your teen (or husband) to listen and pick-up their underwear off of the bedroom floor if you yell loudly enough, AND….

…you may be creating a pattern of negative behaviors to get your needs met. So your children and spouse continue to ignore your requests and pleas until you blow your top, then all of sudden they are listening,  responding quickly and wondering, “What’s up with mom ?”

We know that children model their parent’s behaviors, so the last thing you want to teach your child is that ignoring and then overreaching is a healthy way to communicate. The best way to teach your child to listen, respect your requests, and to communicate in healthy way is to learn how to communicate your wants and needs in a healthy manner first.

You can use creativity to get back into you parenting authority, and here’s a way you can do so. Create an image of something (or someone) that represent being empowered, strong, assertive, and clear. Take a minute to see what pops up for you. Now embody this! Wear it like a cloak and ground yourself in this image. When your child or spouse wants to “hook you into an argument” or they are ignoring your requests, connect with this empowering image before you respond. You’ll respond from a centered more calm place; then you can use the 3- Step “Super Secret” Formula to ask for what you need! You can take this exercise even further and create an image of this and put it in a place where you’ll see it often as visual reminder of being in your parenting power.

Drum roll please….I’m going to share with you my 3- Step “Super Secret” Formula to finally get your kids (and spouse) to listen.

  1. Validate your child’s feelings
  2. Use the assertive triangle to state how you feel and what you need. I teach that technique in the free audio-telesemiar  Secrets Your Kids Really Don’t Want You to Know: A Child Art Therapist Tells All (*except for the confidential stuff) and you can access in the box above.
  3. Be clear of consequences and follow-through

Here’s how it might sound. You come in to your teen’s room and it is a mess and you’ve ask them to clean it and they are on Facebook with their friends.

“I understand that Facebook and connecting with your friends is important to you and it’s upsetting to get off the computer when you want to be on it. When I walk into your room and it’s messy and I asked you to clean it I feel upset and disrespected. Please pick-up all the clothes off of the floor and put them in the hamper and remove the dishes from your room by 9:00 pm tonight. If you choose not to then you will not be able to use the computer tomorrow.”

DONE! This is no need to lecture, no need to yell, not need to threaten, you have clearly asserted you needs, set reasonable expectations and consequences and given your child a choice. So there is no need to go on and on and lecture them (doing so you’ll lose your parenting authority).

This must be done in a neutral tone being in your parenting authority, so your child does not hook you and get you to react! Embody that image you created and operate from this calm- empowered place and you’ll be modeling for your children and spouse how to listen respectfully.

Have you tried different ways to communicate, but your child or spouse is still not listening?  We can help!


Divorcing or Remarrying? Leave No Rock Unturned for Your Children

August 25th, 2011

Unless you have been living under a rock, you’re probably aware of the high divorce rate in the U.S. for first marriages; it’s approximately 50%.  A less well-known fact is that approximately 60-70% of second marriages end in divorce. Divorce, first or second, affects millions of children in the U.S.  And, the negative effects of divorce on children have been well documented in published works, including The Journal of Marriage and the Family and The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. So, how are we doing with checking on the children during these critical turning points in their lives?

According to Judith S. Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee in What About the Kids? Raising Your Children Before, During, and After Divorce, many parents don’t recognize that divorce is a turning point. “They hope that their relationships with their children won’t change very much after divorce.” And, furthermore, “They’ve probably been told by attorneys or therapists that if they behave with civility toward their ex, make a fair financial plan, and allow each child to have good access to both parents, the stress of the divorce will be short-lived.”

According to Wallerstein and Blakeslee, “that’s not the children’s experience.” And, I would argue that it isn’t the case with a remarriage either. Experts report that it takes approximately seven years for a stepfamily to “successfully blend.” And, some even say it takes 12 years. Either way, such transitions do not occur quickly and require a great deal of time and effort. Chances are greater for success if you don’t just let things happen while you are on autopilot.

In other words, be proactive when it comes to your child’s mental and emotional health during divorce and/or remarriage. I often hear about adults seeking assistance for their children after a problem occurs; e.g., a decline in grades, behavioral issues, depression, etc.  Wallerstein and Blakeslee urge parents to be aware that the kids have an entirely different take on things compared to the parents. And, they point out that the kids’ feelings can last well into adulthood.

A great way to begin being proactive is to seek out resources that deal with divorce and/or remarriage. There are some very helpful and insightful books that have been written, such as The Secrets to Stepfamily Success: Revolutionary Tools to Create a Blended Family of Support and Respect by Gloria Lintermans. She sheds light on common stepfamily myths in areas such as loyalty issues, discipline, incomplete grief, and explains how for children, “the transition from one family structure to another, and another, creates a long period of upheaval and stress.”

More importantly, Lintermans’ book and others can open your eyes to the issues they may be bothering your children whether you know it or not. Once you are aware of all of the potential challenges that divorce and/or remarriage can pose for your children, one of the most important things to do is to help your child connect and communicate. Be proactive!

Why not seek the assistance of a professional therapist who has experience with working with stepfamilies before someone in your family faces problems? Why not join a divorce or stepfamily support group if that is the lifestyle you are embracing? Why not talk to people who have successfully navigated through divorce and remarriage journeys?

Staying focused on your children and anticipating what to expect when you divorce or remarry with children is a healthy thing. You anticipate their needs daily in many ways to ensure they have happy and successful lives by way of check-ups with their doctors and dentists, back-to-school teacher conferences, sports practices, and more. Why not be prepared and help them through the big changes in your life that impact them tremendously as well?

About Paula

Paula Bisacre is publisher of, the go-to resource for remarriage and stepfamily living. She is the founder of Remarriage LLC, a multimedia company that provides information, community, and products that enhance the experience of remarriage and stepfamily living. As a trusted expert and advocate, Paula frequently speaks, writes and consults about stepfamily issues and was the creator of the monthly remarriage column in The Washington Times. She has also authored the book, Journal for Stepmoms.