Relate Well! Blog

Addressing the all-important and often perplexing topics and issues related to enhancing your personal growth and professional development

Blending Them In Without Mixing Them Up (Part 2 of 2)

In our previous blog we began talking about some ways to start out on the right foot if you re-marry and bring two families together. Those initial tips were: Make Your Marriage a Priority, Be Sensitive to Your Child’s Feelings, Develop Realistic Expectations and Be Supportive of Your Child’s Other Biological Parent. Those tips focus on ways to deal with the adjustment you and your children will go through with the life-changing step of blending them into a new family structure. Today we will share some ways to help your new family grow stronger and become closer.

Develop strong listening and communication skills

Effective communication and listening skills are vital to the success of any relationship. The true test of your skills comes when you are emotionally charged. It’s easy to say the right things when you feel happy, but throw in a little anger, a dash of jealousy and a pinch of disappointment and you have the ingredients for communication breakdown –...

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Blending Them In Without Mixing Them Up (Part 1 of 2)

One of my first introductions to a blended family was The Brady Bunch. Every Friday night, we tuned in to watch Mike Brady and his three sons and his new wife, Carol, and her three daughters skillfully navigate the challenges and pitfalls of their blended family -- and all in less than thirty-minutes.

Some say the Bradys didn’t have it as rough as most blended families, but, hey, what about the time the entire clan had to help Jan cope with the trauma of wearing glasses? Or when Greg was faced with the gut-wrenching decision of voting for someone other than his stepsister to be captain of the cheerleading squad? Boy, those were tough times! If not for the Solomon-like wisdom of Alice, the housekeeper, the Bradys could have easily ended up as just another divorce statistic.

If only step-parenting could be as easy as The Brady Bunch made it look! In reality, blending families together without mixing them up can be enormously difficult and challenging.

Studies show that half of...

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Helping Your Child Process the Illness or Death of a Loved One

In this life, there is no escaping the reality that your family will be impacted by serious illness and death at some time. This is painful and hard for adults, but we must be mindful of the children who are affected as well. 

When someone we love is seriously ill it can evoke within us a sense of helplessness and powerlessness and children feel it, too. Allowing the child to assist in an age-appropriate fashion can help teach them important lessons about caregiving and compassion, help them be distracted from the inevitability of death and give them a sense of purpose and a special connection to the one they love. This may be as simple as drawing a picture for their sick loved one, bringing a drink of water, helping a caregiver adult prepare a meal, or visiting with them as tolerated. 

When a child experiences the death of a family member due to illness or accident it is important for the parent or adult caretaker to speak openly about it. Children can’t be fooled...

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What Buying a Car Can Teach You About Who to Marry

When my daughter was preparing to go to college, we had to shop for a reliable car to transport her around her temporary new community. She had been looking for just the right car for a long time and she could tell us exactly what she wanted and why. She had done an impressive amount of research!

Knowing what she wanted ahead of time really made the decision-making process more efficient and effective and much less stressful. We didn’t have to visit every dealership in town and subject ourselves to high-pressure sales pitches. In fact, the probability of high satisfaction was greatly increased because she had a clear picture of what she was looking for.

If people put this amount of time and effort into knowing what they really want in a spouse, I believe the divorce rate would fall way below 50 percent and they would be a lot more satisfied with their choices. Oh, I know, you can give a lot of thought to who you want as a mate and still end up with a lemon – there are...

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Help Your Kids Quit Procrastinating

When I was growing up I would often hear my mother say, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” As a child, I hated that statement. It often meant missing a television program or playing with my friends in order to finish my chores or schoolwork.

As an adult, I can now appreciate the importance my mother placed on getting a job done. Unfortunately, many parents encourage their children to procrastinate by allowing them to postpone such things as homework, music lessons or chores. When a child develops the “I’ll do-it-later” syndrome it is very difficult to grow out of it as an adult.

According to a research study conducted by Rhodes College, Psychologists found that parents can program their children to become procrastinators by being late to activities, putting off the signing of permission slips or canceling appointments. The key to remember is this moms and dads, if you want your children to get things done on time you must begin by...

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Does Your Credit Score Reveal Impatience?

Did you know you can tell a lot about a person from just their credit score? You can certainly tell whether or not they will qualify for a mortgage, but researchers contend that they can also tell if someone is likely to be more patient or impatient simply based on their credit history.

Economists from the Federal Reserve’s Center for Behavioral and Economics and Decision-making surveyed 437 people asking them whether they would prefer a small reward now or wait for a larger reward later. Those who were willing to wait for a larger reward later had credit scores that were 30 points higher, on average, than those who said they’d prefer a smaller immediate payment. The findings also revealed that the most impatient subjects had average FICO scores below 620 – a commonly used cutoff for prime and subprime lending.

Patience – or lack of it – can make the difference between being able to buy a home or a car, qualifying for a good interest rate...

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How to Fill Your Child's Emotional Tank

Many families have experienced an unusual level of stress this year due to job loss or changes, online schooling, social isolation, and anxiety about illness affecting them or someone they love. Some of you may feel as though your physical and emotional reserves are depleted. If you, as an adult, feel as though you’re running on fumes, you can imagine that your children, who don’t have your years of maturity and experience to draw upon, may be running on empty emotionally. 

Kids who are stressed or depressed may act out their feelings with misbehavior, back-talk, appetite changes, aggression, poor sleep or bad dreams, headaches, tummy-aches and unexplained crying. As a parent, you may not be able to fix everything that’s going on, but you can put some small habits into your relationship to strengthen your children’s resilience. 

Here are some ideas that will help refill their little emotional tanks: 

Demonstrate simple kindness. Say...

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Are You Contented and Thankful?

I read a survey that revealed over half of all Americans would choose a new line of work if they had the chance. It’s amazing to think that every single day millions of people in our country spend their most productive hours at a job they wish they could change!

This statistic makes us ask the question, “WHY?” Is it because there are very few jobs that are truly satisfying and rewarding? Is it because they like the job but dislike the management or the people they work with? This is no doubt true in some cases because relationships on the job are such a big factor in how you feel about going to work each day.

But, I believe there is another important factor to consider: many people who are unhappy with their work are also discontented with other areas of their life as well. There are a lot of people who are living day to day with a general feeling of dissatisfaction in almost everything. Maybe you know someone who is never quite satisfied. Maybe you feel that way....

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5 Keys to Building Greater Stress Resilience

The first month of the new year has already proven to be a continuation of challenges and stress for many people in our country and around the world. 

With the ongoing needs to cope with and respond to the pandemic, as well as significant political events and transitions, many people face enduring uncertainty and discouragement. They were hoping that, once 2020 was over, life would settle down a bit – but most of the same stressors are still interfering with “normal” life. Clients frequently ask how they can learn to cope more effectively with the stress and negative emotions these challenges present. 

My recommendations for navigating this new year are the same ones I do my best to focus on every year. For me, these 5 intentional strategies have proven extremely effective in keeping me focused on what I need most to strengthen my resiliency to all types of stress. 

Here they are: 

  1. Commit to growing deeper in your faith. 

In an effort to...

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Do You Worry About What People Think?

It has been said that more people are held captive in the prison of their own minds then in all the jail cells in the world… and worry is their Warden.  There are countless things we can worry about, but I have worked with many people who significantly struggle with the worry of what people think about them. 

Many of the decisions you make on a daily basis, e.g., the clothes you wear, the music you listen to, what you say in a conversation, or who you associate with, are governed, in large part, by a goal-directed conscious or unconscious process that attempts to influence what people think about you.  We call this process impression management. 

As humans, we all have needs for belonging, affection, and acceptance.  To not think about how others perceive you to some extent is to deny these needs.  Unfortunately, many people are trapped by a powerful impulse to over engage in impression management.  In other words, they are overly focused on...

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