Be a Dad First, Then a Friend

not being a frined

Dear Mr. Dad: I’m a single dad and need some advice about my teenage daughter. She’s 13 and It’s just been me and her for the past five years. She is extremely smart and independent and even helps me with household decisions. I admit that I am very laid back in my parenting and our relationship is more of friends and equals than father and daughter. I feel guilty because she does not have the ideal two-parent household and I often work long hours, so I let her get and do pretty much whatever she wants. To complicate things even more, I will be remarrying within the next year to a woman that I have had a long distance relationship with. I am concerned that when she comes to live with us, the new family dynamic will be too much of a change for my daughter. I want to try and restructure our relationship and instill boundaries now before it is too late. Where do I start?

A: The good news is that you’ve already taken the first step: you recognize that there’s a problem and you’ve asked for help. The bad news is that you’ve got a huge amount of catching up to do.

The relationship you have with your daughter is incredibly common among single parents: they feel guilty about putting their children through a divorce and, as you say, for depriving them of the perfect two-parent family. And they feel guilty about working long hours and depriving them of having more time with even one loving parent. As a result these guilt-ridden single moms and dads do exactly what you’re doing: try to make themselves feel better—and make amends to their kids—by backing off on discipline and letting them get away with whatever they want. Big mistake.
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Parenting a Child with Down Syndrome + Inspiring Creativity + Kids and Divorce

[amazon asin=B00AEBEUCY&template=thumbleft&chan=default]George Estreich, author of The Shape of the Eye.
A memoir of a father raising a child with Down Syndrome
Issues: Hearing the diagnosis; health and psychological issues children with Down Syndrome face; worries about your child’s future; more.

[amazon asin=1591810760&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Bernie Schein, author of If Holden Caulfield Were in My Classroom.
Inspiring love, creativity, and intelligence in middle school kids.
Issues: What is No Child Left Behind and what does it mean to your family? Helping your child deal with peer pressure; helping middle schoolers tap into their emotions and realize that it’s their strengths, not their weaknesses that define them as individuals.

[amazon asin=B001F7BDE4&template=thumbleft&chan=default] Benjamin Garber, author of Keeping Kids out of the Middle.
Child-centered parenting in the midst of conflict, separation, and divorce.
Issues: Establishing conflict strategies that genuinely meet children’s emotional and psychological needs; building a safe, consistent healthy environment for your child; creating parenting plans that keep your child protected.

Getting Along with Your Mother-in-Law or Daughter-in-Law

[amazon asin=098881000X&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Deanna Brann, author of Reluctantly Related
Secrets to getting along with your mother-in-law or daughter-in-law
Issues: Understanding why your relationship with your in-law is so hard; powerful tools and techniques to bring peace and lasting change to your relationship; how to change your relationship without having to confront your in-law; what husbands and sons can do to stay out of the middle.

The Latest Cure for Obesity? Get a Divorce

We often hear that being in a good relationship is good for your health. Satisfied couples, for example, are more likely to take medication as directed and to schedule yearly physicals. But when it comes to weight gain, the opposite may be true. Couples who are satisfied with their marriage tend to put on the […]

Keeping Your Distance: American Men Deal With Intimacy

Intimacy is a scarcity for American men –if by “intimacy” we mean revealing and sharing what is innermost about us. Few men live by this creed. Intimate connection becomes an abstraction, a nice idea, a frustrated lack.  The typical American male can’t grasp intimacy, having precious little real experience of it. Just mentioning the word […]

Making Your Ex an Ally + Helping Your Kids Thrive after Divorce

[amazon asin=160882277X&template=thumbnail&chan=default]Guest 1: Judith Ruskay Rabinor, author of Befriending Your Ex after Divorce.
Topic: Making life better for you, your kids, and yes, your ex.
Issues: How to befriend your ex; the art of creating an ally from an opponent; when anger prevents befriending; how children benefit when exes cooperate.

[amazon asin=B006QZ789E&template=thumbnail&chan=default]Guest 2: Lisa Rene Reynolds, author of Parenting through Divorce .
Topic: Helping children thrive during and after the split.
Issues: Anticipating children’s emotions and reactions; practical advice to guide children through divorce while retaining a strong, healthy, caring environment.