Family Drama

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Secrets of Successful Step-Families: 10 Tips for Blended Family Bliss   While blended families are incredibly common, the adjustment of merging two households is never easy. About 65% of remarriages include kids , and terms like step-parent, step-sister, or step-brother may not feel warm and fuzzy at first. But with time, understanding, and tact, step-relatives can begin to feel more like “bonus-relatives,” providing an extra source of support, mentorship, and love.   So what can parents do to strengthen the blended -family bond?     1. Consider the kids’ perspective   If your kids are acting hostile,   defiant  , or downright mean, it can be hard to   keep your cool   with them. When you feel frustrated, remember that your kids are experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions as they adjust to their new family. A remarriage emphasizes that there’s no chance of their bio-parents reconciling, and that can be very hard for them to accept. Remember that your kids may feel a mix of sadness, anger, grief, fear, and confusion that will lessen over time.    2. Prepare a parenting plan   Unlike couples who become parents together, those who remarry are often more set in their parenting styles. It’s important to discuss parenting philosophies and get on the same page early on. If your new spouse tends to be stricter than you are, discuss ways that you can meet in the middle. Set a few family rules that you can both agree on. Consequences and rewards may vary a bit if the kids are different ages, but try to keep consistent with enforcing rules and granting privileges for teens and young kids alike.   3. Let discipline wait   As you develop your parenting plan, keep in mind that it’s generally best for step-parents to take a less disciplinary approach for the first year or two. This doesn’t mean they need to be walked all over, but they can keep the other parent informed and allow them to take the lead in enforcing consequences. As your child or teen adjusts to the new family dynamic over time, the step-parent can gradually take on a more authoritative role.     4. Involve your ex if possible   Sometimes it isn’t safe or possible for kids to have relationships with both bio-parents. If it is feasible, your child will probably adjust better if they’re able to maintain a positive relationship with both their parents. Do your best to put aside differences for recitals and sporting events and try to plan visitation schedules in ways that don’t disrupt your child’s schooling, activities, or friendships. If your kid lives with you most of the time, keep the nonresidential parent informed of what’s coming up .  If you are the nonresidential parent, express to your child that even though they don’t live with you,   you are dedicated to supporting them   .     5. Avoid badmouthing bio-parents   Even if your ex acts like a complete four-letter-word, try to take the high road by not speaking badly about them to your kids (but feel free to shamelessly vent about them to your friends!). If you continue to show your ex respect and civility, they’ll be more likely to return the favor down the line. Remember that positive co-parenting is crucial in putting your child’s best interests first. Speaking badly about the other parent can damage your kid’s self-esteem and cause them to resent you.    6. Treat each sibling as special   The more siblings there are, the more mom and dad’s attention becomes divided. This can make kids feel resentful toward their new brothers or sisters. Assure each child that both parents are dedicated to quality time with them. If you share custody, plan family vacations and activities when all of the kids can attend. Keep lines of communication open and make your kids   feel comfortable to talk about their feelings  .     7. Honor all traditions   Kids may resent having to go along with someone else’s traditions, so try to find a middle ground that respects both sides’ practices. For example, if your family always opened gifts on Christmas Eve, and your step-kids are used to doing everything Christmas Day, compromise by opening a few special gifts on the 24th and opening the rest on the 25th. Create new traditions together as well, such as sledding, baking, or volunteering at a toy drive together.     8. Give safe spaces   Merging families means merging space which can make kids feel territorial. For this reason, it’s often ideal to move into a new home where your family can have a fresh start. If that’s not feasible, clear out all drawers, closets, and bedrooms and start dividing up space from scratch so that each family member has a clear idea of what space is theirs. Create a schedule for things that need to be shared such as computers and bathrooms. Remember to praise your kids for sharing and compromising.   9. Nurture your marriage    For the first few years, a lot of your focus will be on helping the kids adjust. This can make your marriage take a backseat. While it’s important to tend to your kids’ feelings,  they’ll benefit from your marriage staying strong and connected. Plan occasional kid-free date nights and make time to talk alone on a regular basis. Celebrate family wins and talk openly about concerns and challenges.    10. Get support   Blended families can take several years to fully adjust, and younger kids  often adapt quicker than older ones. Sometimes, however, it can feel impossible to make your new family feel stable and connected. If you or your spouse is struggling to get along with the kids or if family challenges are straining your marriage, our specialists can help.       
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment 
with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams, graduate and professional licensing exams such as MCAT, LSAT, GRE, CBEST, NCLEX, GMAT, CA Cosmetology Exam, CA Contractors State Licensing Exam, and CA Bar Exam).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References   Bray, J., Ph.D. (n.d.). Making Stepfamilies Work. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stepfamily  DeAngelis, T. (2005, December). Stepfamily success depends on ingredients. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/dec05/stepfamily  Hanson, R. (n.d.). Blended Family Problems. Retrieved from https://family.lovetoknow.com/about-family-values/blended-family-problems  Lingenfelter, K. (2019, July 12). How You Overcame Struggles with Blending Your Family [E-mail interview]. Blended Family with Step Children and Half Siblings  McPhail, K. (2019, July 11). How You Blended Your Family Successfully [E-mail interview]. Blended Family with Children from Previous Marriages  Morin, A., LCSW. (2019, June 24). Solutions to the Biggest Challenges Most Blended Families Overcome. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfamily.com/biggest-problems-blended-families-face-4150230  Robinson, H. (2019, June 17). A Blended Family United: Tips for Overcoming Issues  Together. Retrieved from https://www.parents.com/parenting/divorce/blended-families/navigating-the-challenges-of-blended-families/  Segal, J., Ph.D, & Robinson, L. (2019, June). Blended Family and Step-Parenting Tips.  Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/parenting-family/step-parenting-blended-families.htm  Shinn. M.M. (2019). 8 Tips to Calm Your Kid While Keeping Your Cool. Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/8-tips-to-calm-your-kid-while-keeping-your-cool   Shinn. M.M. (2019). My Kid is So Defiant – Is It My Fault? Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/my-kid-is-so-defiant-is-it-my-fault   Shinn. M.M. (2018). 5 Tips for Raising Emotionally Intelligent Children. Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/5-tips-for-raising-emotionally-intelligent-children   Shinn. M.M. (2018). Life Success – Is It About Persistence or Following Your Passion? Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/life-success-is-it-about-persistence-or-following-your-passion   
Wong, B. (2017, December 07). 5 Tips For Blended Families Struggling To Keep The Peace. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/blended-family_n_5659647   How to Cite This Blog Article   Shinn. M.M. (2019). Secrets of Successful Step Families: 10 Tips for Blended Family Bliss. Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/test-blog/secrets-of-successful-step-families-10-tips-for-blended-family

Secrets of Successful Step-Families: 10 Tips for Blended Family Bliss

From Cinderella to The Parent Trap, movies often portray second marriages in a negative light. In reality, step-parents & siblings often provide a tremendous source of love, support, and mentorship. Check out this week’s blog to learn 10 tips for achieving blended family bliss.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Home for the Holidays: How to Get Along with Relatives that Drive You Nuts    When you were a kid, you were probably too caught up in the holiday magic to notice any tension between the grown-ups. Now that you’re older, you may be more attuned to your grandma’s passive aggression, your uncle’s inappropriate comments, or your cousin’s blatant insults. Whether you have a family member that means well but just rubs people the wrong way, or if there are some deep-rooted issues from conflicts, abuse, alcoholism, or infidelity, family gatherings don’t always feel joyous or magical.    So what can a person do to enjoy holiday get-togethers with people they can’t stand?      1. Manage expectations   Family togetherness is not always comfortable; it can be difficult to get along with people who have different personalities, viewpoints, and ways of handling conflict. If you’re expecting your family gathering to feel like a Hallmark special, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. Try to release any expectations you have of your family members’ words or behaviors. Remember that you cannot control the actions of others, but you can control how you choose to react.     2. Identify your buttons   You may not be able to prevent your relatives from doing upsetting things, but you can reduce the odds of situations escalating out of control. Think back to things that have set off drama in the past and do your best to avoid them. Does drinking one too many shots, talking about religion or politics, or staying longer than a few hours seem to push your buttons? If so, do your best to consciously avoid those situations.      3. Make spirits bright & conversations light   Maybe you can’t talk to your grandpa about guns without someone dropping F-bombs and storming out of the room. Even if you want to advocate for your beliefs, holiday gatherings are not the best environment to debate tense issues. Let that be a conversation for another day and try to find common ground over lighter topics such as sports teams, hobbies, electronics, fashion trends, or TV shows.     4. Reminisce and reconnect    A great way to reconnect with family members that you’ve been distanced from is to focus on memories that make you feel nostalgic. Even if some of your family members aren’t your cup of tea, you may have fond memories that you share together. Talk about the time your dog stole the Christmas ham or dust off that old photo album for a walk down memory lane. Reflect on positive and humorous experiences that you shared with each person.     5. Take the high road   Whether you’re dealing with an alcoholic parent, judgmental in-law, or fat-shaming cousin, try your best to take the high road when they act inappropriately. This does NOT mean you need to accept unacceptable behavior; if things get ugly, walk away calmly and don’t engage in fueling the fire. Spewing insults or throwing mashed potatoes may come back to haunt you but acting mature and collected when others act out will only paint you in a positive light.      6. Call a confidante    Think of a person you can turn to if you are if you are feeling at your wit’s end. Venting to a friend is healthier than letting your emotions boil up inside - or worse – boiling over at the dinner table. It may be wise to choose a friend as your confidante rather than another family member. You wouldn’t want your cousin to spill the beans to Great Aunt Edna about how annoying you think she is.      7. Take care of yourself    Self-care is important year-round, but many people neglect themselves during the holiday rush. Take time for yourself before, during, and after family get-togethers. Go for a walk and reflect on aspects that bring your life joy. Practice mindfulness by appreciating the present moment – the sights, smells, and tastes of the holidays. When you feel yourself dwelling on past family drama or worrying about the future, center your mind back to the present moment. Recharging your batteries will help you enjoy time with your family much more.     8. Be the light    While you should manage your expectations and prepare for the worst, try not to go into the holidays with a negative or resentful attitude. Break the tension by being friendly and positive to the family members you can’t stand or aren’t close with. Remember, the feelings of dread may be mutual and having you extend the olive branch by being warm and polite might be enough to ease some of the tension between you. By staying positive and accepting of others, your good vibes will likely rub off on those around you.      9. Seek Support   You may be thinking, “but you don’t know my family’s crazy-level! I can’t imagine ever getting past the things they did!” Depending on your family’s unique history and circumstances, the thought of applying these strategies may seem impossible, but there is hope. Our team at Variations specializes in helping families through some of life’s most difficult challenges. Our specialists can get to know your family’s unique story and empower you with tools to get through the holidays peacefully and drama-free.  Click here to schedule a 15-minute complimentary session with one of our Specialists      


   
     
      
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      Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D.,  is an expert in child and educational psychology. If you are concerned about your family’s well-being, Dr. Shinn can support you and your children in taking care of your emotional health needs.      
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Shinn 
       Cynthia R. Johnson, LMFT, is a specialist in Parenting and Child Therapy at Variations Psychology. She has years of experience in supporting families through challenges while strengthening their relationships.       
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Cynthia 
       Dr. Daniella A. Davis, Psy.D.,  is an expert in dealing with the unique challenges that women face throughout each stage of life. If you are a woman struggling to get along or connect with family members that push your buttons, Dr. Davis can help.       
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Davis 
       Dr. Christopher J. Sample, Psy.D.  specializes in supporting men and teenage boys through life’s transitions. Dr. Sample provides a comfortable place for men to overcome family challenges and gain the tools for leading successful and fulfilling lives.       
	 click here to schedule your appointment with dr. sample 
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               The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment  with one of our specialists.    More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams, graduate and professional licensing exams such as MCAT, LSAT, GRE, CBEST, NCLEX, GMAT, CA Cosmetology Exam, CA Contractors State Licensing Exam, and CA Bar Exam).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.   References:   Holiday Blues That Linger Could Be Warning Sign of Depression.   (2009, December 10). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2009/12/holiday-blues.aspx   Making The Most Of The Holiday Season. (2016, November).   Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/holiday-season.aspx  'Tis the Season for Nostalgia: Holiday Reminiscing Can Have Psychological  Benefits. (2011, December 7). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2011/12/nostalgia.aspx

Home for the Holidays: How to Get Along with Relatives that Drive You Nuts

Whether you loathe your in-laws, can’t stand your cousin, or are perturbed by your parents, holiday gatherings can be a tense time for family members who just don’t get along. It’s challenging to connect with people who have different values, perspectives, and personalities, but there are ways to keep the peace and enjoy the holidays. Check out this week’s blog to learn how!