Friday, June 27, 2008

What I wish for every little girl.

While doing research on challenges stepmom and biomoms face, I came across Christina's beautiful short story that I would like to share. This woman has lived the many facets of what motherhood is like. She also has a book for sale that talks about children in stepfamilies and ways to nagivate through the issues.

What I wish for every little girl.

To have a Dad who teaches her abundance, boundaries and self respect.

A Dad who is strong and balanced in himself.

A dad who has a life and lives it fully.

A Dad who is romantic with his wife not only because he loves his wife, but he is smart enough and wise enough to understand that little girls are "watching" every move he makes with the adult woman he is with because one day they will be adult women who want their own lives and if Dad mistreats, ignores, is out of balance with the adult woman-the chances that his daughter will grow up and meet a man who mistreats her, ignores her and is out of balance will be great.

To have a Dad who teaches his daughter to be a "Team Player" inside the family because he knows that his daughters life will blossom and grow in healthy ways if she learns early on how to particapate inside of a family and if she learns that other people are equally as important as she is.

To have a Dad who doesn't lead his parenting with guilt over a divorce or two houses, instead teaches his daughter the value of diversity and appreciation for the reality of life so she grows up with her own internal emotional strength to handle life on lifes terms.

To have a Dad who understands that sometimes when a little girl cries, to let her cry, and if you don't, she'll never be able to be in the world.

To have a Dad who does not "Save" her but teaches her how to handle things on her own and tells her how proud he is when she is able to make good choices for herself.

To have a Dad who will not violate her trust and mix boundaries and do things with her, that he should be doing with his wife.

To have a Dad who understands that every time he is with his daughter she is watching, she watches him when he looks at other women's bodies and how he looks at other women's bodies and she will formulate and compare what "men" think is attractive to what Dad does and if a Dad is not mindful of his behavior, she may think she's not OK based on Dad's behavior-so Dad's- watch who you are when you walk out the door .

This is what all little girls deserve.

Christina M Whinnery, Certified Massage Therapist

Author of: Navigational Skills: Inside the REAL Lives of Stepfamilies

If you have a story that you would like to contribute to this blog or are interested in participating in my research, email me at

For more information about Coaching Steps LLC and how I can help you create unity and peace in your home, visit

All information that I receive from you is kept confidential and under no circumstances do I sell, trade or give away your email address or personal information.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's day

This article written by Dr. Jeannette Lofas gives very useful steps to help dads and steps dad's being the role model children need today. If you have any questions regarding stepfamily issues, please contact me at

Father's Day
by Dr. Jeannette Lofas Ph. D., Westbrook University

Each year for Father's Day we offer some tips and solutions to the common dilemma's of divorced fathers and stepfathers. Please read on for more information on how to make this year's father's day a memorable one.

Dads, let this Father's Day be a reminder to you that even though you may not see the kids as often, that you are still their teacher, their guide and their one and only father. Honor your role as you continue to lead your children to be strong in character, in self-confidence and in self worth.


Continue to Father. You must continue to teach and guide---even if your time with your child is too short.

Exact Good Manners. The father teaches rules of the game, sportsmanship, respect for others, self-discipline and persistence. "We look each other in the eye when we talk, we allow each other to finish talking before we start to talk, we do not interrupt," and more.

Respect. Children must treat their father with respect in order to respect themselves. If you are partnered, know that it is often emotionally difficult for your children to look at and treat your partner, and even you, with respect, teach them anyway.

Structure and Establish Positive Rules. If you are alone, decide the rules of your house. If you have a new partner, decide together on the rules of "our" house. Check out The Family Rules Book for ideas on how to accomplish this.

Honor your Partner's Point of View. Know your partner's perspective is to be honored. She may have a different point of view on how your children should act, but remember, women have been teaching social skills since the time of the caveman.

Don't Overindulge. No time to discipline? Beware of becoming a fly-me, buy-me dad; A "Disneyland Dad." You are in good company. Most dads whose children visit are tempted just to be a pal dad. Know that kids need fathering.

Be Informed. If there are difficulties, give yourself the gift of information.

Do not Badmouth your Ex. If the other parent badmouths you? Teach your kids to handle it. Tell them they must respect both points of view and that taking sides only hurts them.

CO-Parent. Remember, there are NO ex-parents, only ex spouses. CO-parenting with your ex is vital. What about the stepfather?He is the male leader in his home, the mother's home. Yes together, they are male and female head of house. Just as is the father and stepmother is in dad's house.

Have a Happy Father's Day. Just do it!


The child's self-love is dependent on holding each parent in respect. It is a psychological fact that we cannot esteem our selves if we do not respect our parents. After all, we are one half of our mother and father. Divorced parents seem to forget that fact.

Badmouthing each other has become quite acceptable, even trendy. Think of Donney's story:"My Mom says my dad's no good, My dad says my Mom's no good, I guess I must be no good."

There are ONLY ex spouses. There are NO ex parents.

In our counseling we teach, we write legal and extensive CO-parenting agreements. First we work to explain the divorce in way that does not put down the other parent. (I know, you're saying "but he/she deserves it!" Well I say "grow up." Saying bad things, no matter what, hurts the child. STOP IT!

Use Explanations Such As:
"I wanted to work and mom liked to go out"
"He/she like parties, I was happy with a good book or TV."
"She wanted to decorate, I wanted to save money."
Etc., etc.
Whatever... as long as it is DIFFERENT not DEPRECATING.

WHY the divorce?

The sad fact is that in many cases --- if not most cases --- the child is torn between the views of each parent.

It is up be a parent to respect their separate and different points of view. For example we teach the father to tell the child that he must honor the mother's right to believe what she believes. But, also to direct the child that there are "two points of view.

And the child must honor both his mother's and father's point of view. And, it is not a child's job to decide which parent is right or wrong, or to take sides. If the child does this he damages himself.

Today regarding "The 21st Century Family" we have not developed a vocabulary, nor a paradigm for explanation of divorce for children. Only a very few have a paradigm to explain the family of today---the new majority of divorced and stepfamilies.

We hope people will take from our writings and use them. Children and many fathers, and mothers also, have no words, nor solutions, nor way of speaking to children to soothe the grief and heal the wounds. Many feel bad and over indulge.

For Father's Day, consider the role of the Stepfather. Mothers with new partners, make this day special for your husbands.

Stepfathers, remember the Ten steps to Stepfathering and have a GREAT Father's Day!

1.The Stepfather Can't Function as Does the Biological Father. He is not the father and never will be. The stepfather is the male head of the household. Together with his wife, the children's mother, he can be a guide, a mentor, and even a psychological father to the stepchildren, over time. Go slow.

2. Structuring the Household Is a Shared Task Between Husband and Wife. How is the time, energy, and money used? What are the duties, responsibilities, and contributions of each member of the household? This must be sorted out and decided by the couple.

3. The Norms and Forms of Discipline Must Be Discussed and Agreed to by the Couple. Generally, the biological parent does the disciplining and the stepparent reminds, "In this house we . . ."

4. "Over-disciplining Your Stepchildren"‹Watch It! The biological mother can perceive it as too much, too often. This can bring on the mama-bear-protecting-her-young-from-the-outsider syndrome.

5. "Under-disciplining Your Own Children"‹Watch It! The biological father without custody misses his kids and fears the loss of affection and his personal input to his children. This is a legitimate fear. The less time he has with them, the less he wants to discipline. Children need parents even visiting parents‹to set up predictable structures and limits. Set up the rules quickly so you spend less time disciplining.

6. Predictability and Organization Create Intimacy. In a home with structure parents and children spend less time negotiating and arguing. Parent/child power struggles over repetitive issues waste time and undermine the child's self-esteem. Talking about real issues and creating intimacy should be the goal during these limited times together.

7. If Things Don't Work, the Tendency Is to Withdraw. Don't. Stepfathering is complicated, and the notion of not being the "master" of your own household is tough. Indeed, the mother may be lax on discipline. Indeed, you want to change things. Stepfathering has to do with parenting. You and the mother must, together, work out the forms and norms.

8. Unrealistic Expectations Beget Rejections and Resentments. There are few models for stepfathers. Learn the dynamics of step and divorce. Know what to expect and what not to expect.

9. Be Aware of a Conflict between Sexual and Biological Pulls in Stepfamily Relationships. In the original family the couple comes together to have a child, and together their energies focus on that child. The child is an extension of themselves. In step the child is connected to only one person in the couple. The blood ties and sexual ties can be polarized and can pull the couple in opposite directions.

10. Guard Your Sense of Humor and Use It.
Those are the thoughts for this father's day. Fathers need congratulations on the hardest job that they will ever do.

© Dr. Jeannette Lofas Ph. D., Westbrook University

You can view more of Dr. Lofas' articles at

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Why is it that my daddy doesn't love me?

It's Father's Day and I'm really excited to see my daddy.
We're going to have dinner together, just him and me. It's Father's Day.
I made him a really special card with lots and lots of hearts
to show just how much I love my daddy.
He's my hero.
I've got my special dress so that I will look pretty just for him.
It's a really special day.
Mommy's bringing me to daddy's place-
he' too busy to come and pick me up.
I have his card and even a little bag of M & M's for him.
I hope he likes them.
I see my daddy.
I run up to him and give him a big hug
and wish him Happy Father's Day.
I ask him if we are going to have dinner together.
He says no.
He's too busy.
And it's not our weekend.
I look at mommy and my heart is broken.
I just want to go home mommy.
As we go back, I tell my mommy that daddies don't love little girls,
only little boys.
Mommy tells me to take a nap and all will be better.
When I wake up, I'm really sad
because it's still Father's Day.
Why doesn't my daddy love me?
What did I do?
Is it because I'm a little girl?
Does he love someone else better than me?
I wish I was a little boy
then maybe my daddy would love me.
A sad little girl on Father's Day, 5 years old.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

How do you tend your garden

I enjoy gardening. I love to see my flowers bloom and give off their beautiful aroma. That is what I love about gardening. And plus, it gives me time to nurture and tend to my needs of with nature. One of my issues with gardening is that the weeds creep up when I'm not watching. How can they just pop up so fast? I realize that if I don't look after my garden on a regular basis, these pesky little weeds just come in and invade my garden. It's a constant struggle to keep up with getting rid of the weeds. It takes time and energy to create a beautiful garden.

So you might be wondering, what does this have to do with relationships? As I take out the weeds, I realize that relationships also need to be looked after with love and attention. If we don't find the time to nurture and grow our relationship, they too will get taken over by those pesky weeds. These weeds can come in the form of work, alcohol, drugs, other people, etc.

Ok so what do I do to take care of my relationship? Start small. Just like when you first plant flowers, start with the easier ones, those that require just enough care to still grow well. In a relationship, that could be eating a meal together once a week, or playing a game together or watching a movie. Start with something that everyone is comfortable with and that is fun. When our kids were in their teens, having family dinners was getting boring for them. So occasionally, we would go to an affordable family restaurant. They loved the idea of going out together. The bonus for us was that we got to have great discussions because the environment was different from home.

Next, make it a habit. I water my flowers at the same time of day about twice a week (depending on the weather of course). This makes it easier for me to remember to do this when I plan my week’s activities. It’s now a habit. Do the same thing with your relationship. Create a new habit of doing something every week. Choose a day that will work out and put it in your planner or calendar. Make sure everyone is aware of this.

Put color and fun in your activities. I love bright colors and lots of variety. It keeps me motivated and excited about going into my garden and seeing what is coming up. Do the same for your activities. Be creative and most of all have fun. Why not go to the park and have that picnic? Try something new and adventures like indoor rock-climbing or canoing. We have tried so many different things in our family and have discovered a lot about each other and ourselves. Just like when I plant a new species of flower, I get to know if the area I chose works and how to take care of it in a different way.

So I invite you to tend to your garden and see the many blossoms that you can create. The more flowers you have, the less place for weeds to come up. If you would like to know more about how to create a great relationship, I invite you to try a complimentary coaching session at to help you create to goal that will inspire and move you towards the life that you really want.

Happy Gardening!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Getting from good to WOW in your relationship

In today’s world maintaining a satisfied relationship requires planning and commitment. With everyone’s lives so busy, it is not automatic anymore to have time to nurture and enjoy our spouses/partners.

Just like a project, you need to set aside time to plan activities that you do as a couple. This creates shared memories that build and strengthen a relationship-the more you have the better the relationship withstands hard times.

Commitment is another important component in building stronger relationship. You must commit to sharing of yourself with the other, not just in activities but of yourself as in your thoughts and feelings.

But you say “we don’t have time for all of this” Then make the time. When something is really important to you, you actually find time and energy for it.

· Start by sitting together with your daily planners or calendar and find 1 to 2 hours a week.
· Choose an activity that you would both enjoy doing.

· Pencil it in your planner/calendar

· Get ready for the event

· Do It and have fun

This is what relationship coaching is all about. Helping you find the goal you want, set the strategies to get there and then follow through with actions.

If you would like to know more about coaching steps and the one-on-one approach , give me a call (703-915-2470) or email me ( ) for a complimentary trail session

"How will the world be different tomorrow as a result of our meeting today?" by Kathie Dannemiller

"People will be accountable and commited to what they have a hand in creating" from "Community: The structure of belonging" by Peter Block

Monday, June 2, 2008

Power of words

Did you ever say something out of anger and thought that well, it's just words. It can't hurt that much. They will have forgotten all about this. This is a video that shows just how much it can hurt.

This is a group that went to high schools in order to stop bullying and discrimination. It is a very powerful exercise to show just how much words hurt. I see this in homes too, between couples, parent and child and siblings. Words have a lasting effect and sometimes we don't know the extent of the damage it has created.

Before voicing those thoughts out of anger or frustration, take a moment to take a deep breath and see what it is that is really the issue. Are you hurt, frustrated or tired? Do you want to get back for something the other has said? What will you gain out of saying those things? Will it hurt the other person? Why do you want to do this?

Words do have a lasting effect on people. Why not choose ones that will motivate and inspire them. Use words to show your love and appreciation, to boost the other's self esteem. You will in turn feel the inspiration and love for yourself and create a new world for yourself and your family.