ParentsGuide of Las Vegas is moving into its third year of publication and we appreciate the support from the thousands of parents and grandparents who read our magazine every month. Through the feedback of our readers we work to continually improve the magazine, website and participation with social media. To that end I am pleased to announce we are adding members to our advisory board, beefing up our local editorial content and offering mail subscriptions.
One of the new additions to our advisory board is Leland Brandon. Mr. Brandon is a founding partner at Kidz Matter, as well a visionary pioneer for youth martial arts in Nevada. His work with Kidz Matter and ATA / Karate for Kids continues to improve the lives of many Las Vegas area families. Mr. Brandon’s input on our advisory board is much appreciated.
PGLV has always strived to provide relevant information to Las Vegas parents. You will notice more quality editorial content in 2011 than ever before. As many of our articles as possible are written by local experts who live and work in Las Vegas. For example, two of our newest editorial contributors are Cindee Huddy of Shine Etiquette School and Dr. Stephen Fife from the Marriage and Family Therapy program at UNLV. We hope you will find Mrs. Huddy’s column on ‘the social graces’ a must read each month. Dr. Fife’s articles in PGLV will deal with some of the most important issues facing parents as they raise children in Southern Nevada.
Finally, we have received several requests over the past couple of years to offer subscriptions to PGLV. While we will continue to provide the largest free distribution network of any family publication in Nevada, we have also introduced paid monthly subscriptions for those who want PGLV sent directly to their mail box (see page 2 for details on how to subscribe).
Thank you for your support of PGLV as we continue Helping Good Parents Raise Better Kids™.
By Dr. Stephen Fife
In America today, approximately 36% of all marriages taking place are remarriages, at least for one of the partners (U.S. Census Bureau). Nearly half these remarriages include biological children of one or both partners. Families that include children from a previous relationship are often referred as blended families, or stepfamilies. Because of the negative connotation that sometimes surrounds the idea of stepfamilies (for example, the wicked stepmother, mean stepsisters, mistreated stepchild), many experts prefer the term blended family. More recently, some scholars have moved away from the term blended family in favor of re-married families, in part because they recognize how difficult it can be for two families to truly “blend.”
One of the challenges facing blended families is that there are very few models of how to successfully bring two families together (with the beloved exception of the Brady Bunch). The primary family model that is embedded in our cultural consciousness is that of intact, first marriages (or the nuclear family). That leaves members of blended families comparing themselves to a cultural standard and holding expectations that may not be appropriate for their family situation. Although much of what we know about good parenting and creating strong families applies to blended families, there are some important differences between stepfamilies and first-marriage families. Parents who understand these differences and have realistic expectations will have a greater chance to build successful families. The following keys can help.
Build a strong, committed relationship to each other. As with all families, success in stepfamilies rests on the quality of the marriage relationship. The stressors of blended families (and life in general) put couples at risk of neglecting their relationship. Make sure you have alone time to nourish your marriage and keep communication lines open.
Have realistic expectations about the time it will take for new family members to get to know each other and learn to get along. All members are experiencing significant changes in their lives, and the adjustment process can be challenging. Be patient with each other and generous with understanding and forgiveness.
Be prepared for challenges and stay committed to the family’s success.
Look for the positive qualities in each child. Use constructive communication and complements, rather than criticism.
Support the discipline practices of the biological parent. Avoid assuming the role of a disciplinarian.
Have realistic expectations about developing relationships with your step children. They may not be happy with the situation, and the adjustment may be difficult. They may be feeling anxious about divided loyalties (i.e., if they like their step mom, then they may feel they are betraying their biological mom). Don’t expect too much at once. Patience is critical.
You play a critical role in the development of a positive relationship between your child and your new spouse. Encourage their relationship, but don’t try to force it.
Create structure in the household, and help your spouse understand the family rules and responsibilities. Try to include them in daily routines as much as possible.
Keep lines of communication open with your children. Invite them to express their feelings openly. Recognize that your children may have a difficult time adjusting to the changes of remarriage and a new step parent. Be patient and understanding.
Try to facilitate activities that the whole family can do together.
Dr. Stephen Fife is an Associate Professor in the UNLV Department of Marriage and Family Therapy. His research has been published widely and presented at national and international conferences. He is happily married and the father of two sons.
Mac King’s Magical Literacy Tour begins its journey as the Harrah’s headlining celebrity rallies the community to collect books for youth. In all, King has a goal of collecting 2100 books during this tour with the hopes of giving them to underprivileged students.
The tour kicks off with a special book drive at the Las Vegas Wranglers hockey games on February 4 & 5. The games begin at 7:05 p.m. and anyone who donates a minimum of three new or gently used school-aged books will receive two complimentary tickets to The Mac King Comedy Magic Show and a ticket to a future Wranglers hockey game.
Celebrating Nevada Reading Week (Feb. 28 – Mar. 4), King has partnered with Clark County READS, an initiative of The Public Education Foundation, to perform a special book reading/magic show for four at-risk elementary schools in our community.
King is reaching out to at-risk youth where literacy rates are at its their lowest to teach them the importance of reading and encourage these students to read. Each student from the assemblies will receive a book from Mac King’s Magical Literacy Tour book drive.
“Reading is very important to me because it literally changed my life,” said King. “One of the reasons I became a magician is because I checked a magic book out of my school library as a kid. I want to give kids the opportunity to explore new topics through the magic of reading so that they too can find their passion in life. Please help a kid by donating a book to my Magical Literacy Tour”
“We are extremely grateful to have Mac King’s support in promoting the importance of reading in Southern Nevada while working to end the cycle of illiteracy,” said Judi Steele, president of The Public Education Foundation. “We applaud his generosity and commitment to our children, and we hope the community will join the effort by donating much needed books.”
By Dr. Raymond J. Huntington
Meet Jake, a child who rarely, if ever, does school work on his own. Jake’s teachers report that he enjoys learning about topics that interest him, but seems unfocused during class time and fails to complete necessary school work, both in class and as homework. Although his grades are suffering, Jake makes no effort to improve his circumstances. His frustrated parents are convinced that nagging and constant supervision are the only ways to get Jake to complete his assignments.
Sound familiar? If you are the parent of a work-inhibited child, you probably feel helpless. Here are a few other traits of children like Jake and ideas on how parents can address work inhibition problems:
Common characteristics of work-inhibited children:
- They tend to lose things and are very disorganized.
- They don’t often follow through on things they say they will do (including homework).
- They do not work independently.
- They are more likely to do work when a teacher or parent hovers close by.
- During in-class work time (and homework time), they avoid work altogether by doing other things, walking around, talking to classmates and the like.
- They seem passive about school, although it is clear from interactions that they are knowledgeable, often bright.
- They may be self-conscious, get discouraged easily and demonstrate a “can’t-do” attitude.
How parents can help their work-inhibited child:
Work on the “work” habits. Encourage your child to be persistent in all that he or she does, even when a task is difficult. Set small goals (and teach your child to set goals for him or herself) and take frequent notice of any progress and effort toward them.
Trust in your child’s abilities. Your confidence in your child will improve his or her own self-confidence. Conversely, lectures about poor work habits and constant reminders about the negative consequences of unfinished homework can cause your child to be even more dependent.
Let your child know that you are there to assist. Often, children who are work inhibited are fearful about being wrong or asking questions when they need help. Teach your child that mistakes are nothing to be ashamed of and that everyone makes them – and learns from them.
Give your child responsibilities at home. Chores are a great way to empower children, make them feel competent and successful, and boost their self-esteem, but parents should be careful not to micromanage or nag. Try assigning tasks related to an area of interest, too. If your child enjoys trying new foods, let him or her plan and cook dinner one night a week – all on his or her own.
Communicate directly and positively. Rather than pointing out your child’s faults, focus on the things he or she is good at. Offer your support by asking how you can help your child do better, but don’t pressure or pester with loads of advice. When your child succeeds at something, give genuine, specific praise.
If your child seems to possess the intellectual capability to succeed in school but suffers from a reticence to complete his or her work, first work to uncover the root of the problem. Once you have a better understanding of your child, develop a plan to help him or her identify those feelings of insecurity and overcome his or her dependency and work inhibition. Increasing positive, productive communications with your child will not only take stress off your relationship, it will help him or her become a self-sufficient student.
Dr. Raymond J. Huntington and Eileen Huntington are co-founders of Huntington Learning Center, which has been helping children succeed in school for more than 30 years. For more information about Huntington, call 1-800 CAN LEARN.