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By Vicki Lansky
The first holidays with your family structure are the most difficult, whether your children are with you or their other parent. That's the bad news. The good news is there is only one first time for each holiday. You'll survive each "first," and it will get better each succeeding year. Small comfort, I know. Turning the lemons into lemonade takes a bit of planning and effort. Don't carry the burden alone; share feelings with your children if they are old enough and let them help with your plans. And if they feel their own sadness, let them voice these feelings, too, for they are normal.
By Julie A. Ross and Judy Corcoran
In A Joint Custody With a Jerk: Raising a Child with an Uncooperative Ex, authors Julie A. Ross, a family counselor, and Judy Corcoran, a freelance writer, pooled their talents to develop strategies for effective co-parenting that are easy to apply, down-to-earth, and innovative. In their view, parenting is difficult enough in a family where two parents love and respect each other. In divorce, where the respect has diminished and the love has often turned to intense dislike, co-parenting can drive one or both parents to the brink of insanity. JOINT CUSTODY WITH A JERK provides examples of common co-parenting problems and offers many proven communication techniques for sticky situations. Here's what they have to say about the typical battles associated with children and money:
Divorced parents haven't cornered the market on disagreements, but they certainly have their share, with their primary discord relating to the issue of money. Many divorces proceed amicably as long as the monetary agreement is acceptable to both parents. When it becomes unbalanced -- when one parent needs more money or the other offers less, or if your child incurs unexpected expenses -- your ex can turn into a jerk in a second. And unfortunately, money problems usually do arise at some point simply because it costs between 30 percent and 60 percent more to operate two households than it does to run one. Often, too, one parent resents the other for having more money or feels taken advantage of for having to pay more.
By Julie A. Ross, M.A. and Judy Corcoran
Being a step parent is a difficult and many times unrewarding job. Think of all the fairy tales where the step-parent gets a bad rap and you have a not too unrealistic picture of society's view of step parents. Yet the bad press that step parents get is, in the majority of cases, totally unjustified.
Step parents can be a loving, supportive, understanding presence which can enrich a child's life immeasurably. If you delve beneath the surface of those fairy tales, you can see the difficulties which step parents do face. The doting biological parent ignores the misbehavior of the children, creating more work for the step parent, who feels left out, resentful and angry at the "raw deal" she or he was dealt. After all, the step parent fell in love with another adult, not the step children, yet they always seem to be around, interfering with the marriage. Likewise, the biological parent isn't always approachable about the subject!
By Ashton Applewhite
In recent years much has been made of the demise of the beleaguered American family. In fact the family is far from defunct, but as it struggles to accommodate the social revolution of the past thirty years, it is changing form. Because the roles of men and women at work and at home are in radical transition, the definition of "family" needs updating. The proportion of "traditional families" in the United States has declined by 35 percent since 1970. By the year 2000, nearly half the population will be part of a stepfamily. Sixty percent of American families are headed by a single parent, and more than half of those parents have never been married at all.
By Barbara Dafoe Whitehead
An excerpt from Barbara Dafoe Whitehead's "The Divorce Culture," Alfred A. Knopf, 1997, the author contends that the widespread shift from nuclear to post-nuclear family life dramatically erodes the durability, quality, and solidarity of family relationships.
Stresses of Divorce on Children
Because family disruption destabilizes childrens family lives, it weakens childrens opportunities to form strong social bonds. The breakup of a marriage often means the loss of the family residence. Children leave the family house and move to another, often more modest place. In community-property states, where assets acquired during the marriage are often split evenly between the two parents, the court usually orders the sale of the house, one among many legal practices that ignore the interests of children. Many of the postdivorce living arrangements are temporary, so children in disrupted families often face more than one residential change. Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefurs research shows that children who live with both parents enjoy the most residential stability, whereas children in stepfamilies experience the least; children from single-parent families fall in between, although their moves are most likely to be caused by eviction or other stressful experiences.