When clever discipline becomes child abuse

Remember the story a few months ago about the 15-year old  girl who was forced to get up in front of the whole school and announce that she was pregnant? Or the 14-year old boy whose parents forced him to stand on the street with a sign declaring that he’d receive Fs on his report card?

New research is just now confirming what most sane parents already knew: humiliating punishments actually do more harm than good. And that’s certainly the case with the newest entries into the ”it-seemed-like-a-clever-idea-at-the-time” category of parental stupidity.

Child sitting in a corner

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Getting Back in Touch with Your Husband

I’m a stay-at-home mom and ever since our baby was born, it seems like my husband and I are growing apart from each other. We hardly even talk anymore. We used to be great at communication, talking to each other about our days, discussing our child and what she is learning. We used to do things as a couple. But now I’m afraid our relationship isn’t as strong as it used to be. What happened?

When you first get married, spending time and doing things with your husband is a great pleasure. The two of you are developing ever-tighter bonds as you share and explore new experiences together.

But after a couple of kids come along it’s easy to lose track of what brought the two of you together in the first place. All of your focus is on the children and there’s often not a lot of time left for each other. If you’re like most parents of young children, it may take you a few minutes (and a few guesses) to remember the last time you and your husband went out to dinner and a movie alone.
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Taking a Look at Your Relationship with Your Father

My own father is an alcoholic and we’ve always had a pretty rocky relationship–especially when I was growing up—and I think he’s a horrible role model for how to parent. I’m scared to death that I’m going to turn out be the same kind of father that he was. Am I doomed? Are my children doomed because I didn’t have a positive role model for a dad?

Not at all. Most dads, as they grow and develop as fathers often find themselves spending a lot of time thinking about their own fathers. And they tend to ask themselves the same kinds of questions you asked yourself: Was my dad someone I’d want to use as a role model, or was he exactly the kind of father I don’t want to be? Did he support me and nurture me when I was a kid myself, or was he absent or abusive? Like it or not, the relationship you had with your father when you were young is going to have some influence on your relationship with your own children.
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Helping a Step Mom Adapt to Her New Role

I’m the divorced father of two kids. I’ve been going out with a wonderful woman for a few months now and we’re heading in the direction of getting married. The problem is that she’s not quite sure how to behave around my kids. What can I do to help her—and my kids—feel more like a family? How do I help my kids accept her as part of our family?

You are the single most important factor in determining how the new woman in your life will deal with her roles as your girlfriend and possible step-mother to your children. You’re the one who has to welcome her into your family and you’re the one who has to make sure the children understand her role. Like just about anyone stepping into a pre-existing family unit, your girlfriend is probably going to feel a little insecure. Doing some of the following will go a long way toward helping her feel more confident:
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Helping Your Kids Cope with Your Divorce

My kids are having a terrible time coping with my divorce. As their father, I am trying to be there for them as much as I can. But nothing I say or do seems to help. What should I do?

Sometimes, despite all your efforts, your children will need more help than you’re capable of providing. This doesn’t mean that you’re a bad parent, just that you know your limitations. Here’s what you should be looking for:
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Coming Up With Your Own Child Support Plan

My ex and I are getting a divorce. We get along pretty well and we don’t want to spend a bunch of money that we could otherwise use to raise our children haggling about child support in court. Can we come up with our own agreement, rather than getting attorneys and a judge involved?

If you and your ex are on pretty civil terms, in most states you can write your own child support agreement. As long as the needs of the children are being met, the courts will approve pretty much anything the two of you come up with. And since no one knows your kids, their needs, and your own individual financial situations better than you and your ex, your agreement will undoubtedly be a lot more reasonable for everyone.
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