Blog: Other People's Children®

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Parenting TechniquesAugust 4, 2022

One Important Alternative When Your Teens Struggle With School

As we head into the back-to-school season, we need to remember that for many of our kids, particularly foster children, school is a place of failure and added trauma. Not all of our kids are suited for academics, and we may not be helping them by forcing them into that mold. For older kids who struggle with school...

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Parenting TechniquesAugust 2, 2022

Five Things to Remember When You Can't Do It All

When I had kids at home, the back-to-school season was the hardest time of year for me. Changing from the summer schedule to the structure of the school year was hard for all of us. In addition, I had to field all sorts of well-meaning advice from education experts about how to get my kids ready for school, set up a...

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Parenting TechniquesJuly 28, 2022

How to Let Our Kids Know We See Them Clearly and Love Them Unconditionally (part 2)

In my last post, I discussed why it’s important to let our kids know that we see them clearly and love them unconditionally. In this post, I’ll discuss four more of the best ways to let our kids know that, even if they make mistakes, we will keep loving them...

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Parenting TechniquesJuly 26, 2022

How to Let Our Kids Know We See Them Clearly and Love Them Unconditionally (part 1)

Shortly after our marriage, my husband gave me a ring that his mother had worn for many years. A few years later, I misplaced it. As I frantically searched for the safe place where I had put it (and promptly forgotten), my husband kept telling me that everything was OK.

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Step-parentingJuly 21, 2022

Why It's Easy to Repeat the Cycle of Trauma and How to Stop

I ran across a story about a very sad and dysfunctional stepfamily that illustrates the problem of repeating cycles of trauma. It’s from a famous Reddit forum, and the person posting was a 16-year-old who says that his stepmother requires him to cook for himself as he’s...

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Foster ParentingJuly 19, 2022

Five Ways that Your Organization Can Support Foster Families

An article from PBS illustrates what I see as currently the largest need in foster care — the lack of sufficient support for foster parents. The article begins with the story of Isela Perez, who “estimates she moved more than 20 times among group homes, mental health facilities...

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ResilienceJuly 7, 2022

The Best Way We Can Encourage Resilience and Build Self-Esteem

A pattern that shows up very often in studies of resilience is a high correlation between resilience and self-esteem. It would be very easy to conclude that, if we help children develop self-esteem, we can also increase their resilience. It’s a small leap from that conclusion to trying to rise our kids’ self-esteem with positive...

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ResilienceJuly 5, 2022

How to Encourage Resilience Through Emotional Support

Anyone who spends enough time looking at the effects of trauma on child development easily could conclude that our children are doomed. Current research in child welfare connects trauma to everything from obesity to significant increases in anxiety and depression. Fortunately, there is a growing recognition in the...

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ResilienceJune 30, 2022

We Can Build Resilience By Providing Social Support

A recently-published research study from Canada found that children who witnessed parental domestic violence had a higher incidence of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse than children without that exposure. Among a sample of more than 17,000 people responding to a survey, 326 had been exposed to...

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ResilienceJune 28, 2022

How to Build Resilience by Encouraging Our Kids to Take Risks

One of my youth organization clients once had a three-year-old child sneak out of the facility, cross a busy road, and visit a toy store. Fortunately, he was not hurt, and the store owner called my client to come get him. I helped my client figure out where their system had failed and where it needed to be shored up...

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PodcastJune 27, 2022

Join Me on the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast

I had a great conversation with Melissa Ebken on the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast. Join us and learn more about her amazing podcast...

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ResilienceJune 23, 2022

New Study Says Risky Play May Be Good for Our Children

A fascinating new study from the UK found that children who engaged in risky play were more resistant to mental health problems during the COVID lockdowns. The researchers looked at two data sets, one with 417 parents and the other with 1919 families. They identified adventurous or risky play as “child-led play...

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Speaking EngagementsJune 16, 2022

Join Us at the National Foster Parents' Association Virtual Conference

I'm thrilled to be a presenter at the National Foster Parent Association's virtual 2022 Conference. They have a dynamite lineup of workshops. I will be presenting on the topic, "We Are Not The People Who Are Supposed To Be There, and That's OK." Join us and add to your store of knowledge about foster...

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June 14, 2022

How and Why Fathers are Important to Our Kids

Father's Day is coming up, and it's a good time to think again about the importance of fathers in children’s lives. Numerous studies show that involved fathers have positive effects on their children's development. Children whose fathers take an active role in their lives have better grades and fewer behavioral problems...

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SpeakingJune 9, 2022

Join Me (Virtually) at an International Conference

Next week, I will be speaking at the European Conference for the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. I will be helping my law partner, Tom Rawlings, present a workshop on "Establishing a Safety Culture" in youth organizations. There are virtual tickets still available, so if you work with...

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Childhood TraumaJune 7, 2022

A Common Reason Why Your Kids May Reject You

I tried to stifle my exasperation as I glanced over at my foster daughter in the passenger seat. She had run away — again — a few days before, I had picked her up at her case worker’s office, and we were on our way home. After a few moments of small talk, I finally broached the topic that was on both of our minds...

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Parenting TechniquesJune 2, 2022

5 Important Things to Remember about Our Teens and Summer Jobs

One of the best ways to teach teenagers the life skills they will need as adults is to help them get a summer job. One of the silver linings of the current Great Resignation is that more employers than ever are willing to consider hiring teenagers. Now is a good time to help our teens take advantage of the job market...

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Parenting TechniquesMay 31, 2022

5 Principles for Teaching Teens to Be Independent

With school graduations coming up or already behind us, one topic that I often hear is how to teach teenagers to be independent. It can be frustrating knowing that our children will soon be legally independent, but wondering if they will have the skills they need in time to be functionally independent. It can be...

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Childhood TraumaMay 26, 2022

Positive Childhood Experiences Can Boost Resilience and Help Heal Trauma

An interesting study recently looked at the competing effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and positive childhood experiences (PCEs). There are quite a few research articles about the effects of ACEs and PCEs on individual health, but this one took a different tack in surveying the effects on family health...

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Parenting TechniquesMay 24, 2022

Lowering Our Expectations May Be the Best Way to Lower Our Kids’ Stress

The CDC recently released a study showing that teen depression and suicidal thoughts have risen by more than 40% in the last ten years. At the same time, the American Psychological Association published a meta-analysis of various studies indicating that parental expectations may be the biggest driver of unrealistic...

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Foster ParentingMay 19, 2022

How the System Loses Good Foster Parents

A Massachusetts judge has dismissed involuntary manslaughter charges against two foster parents, Matthew Tucker and Cassandra Barlow-Tucker. The district attorney charged them after an infant in their care died from strep throat and pneumonia. The DA based her case on a belief that the foster parents failed to...

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Foster ParentingMay 17, 2022

How Foster Parents Can Protect Themselves Against Unfounded Allegations

One unfortunate part of being a foster parent is knowing how to protect yourself against false or unfair allegations. When you sign up for foster care, you sign up for increased scrutiny from your state’s child protective services. Foster children are more likely than biological children to make accusations, out of either...

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Foster ParentingMay 12, 2022

Why and How to Become a Foster Parent One Step at a Time

In my last post, I talked about entering foster parenting with realistic attitudes. In this post, I want to talk about how to actually start. Agencies will offer training, but you need real life experience. I recommend getting that experience a little bit at a time. Parenting other people’s children is a skill, and just like any other...

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Foster ParentingMay 10, 2022

7 Important Things to Consider if You Are Thinking About Becoming A Foster Parent

With the emphasis this month on foster care, we will hear a lot of appeals for people to become foster parents. The pull to provide a family to children who need one is strong, but parenting traumatized children can be difficult and messy. Even experienced foster parents sometimes find themselves wondering what they...

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Parenting TechniquesMay 5, 2022

Why and How To Keep Our Kids Connected to Their Biological Parents

Mother’s Day is one of those holidays that always creeps up on me. After my mother passed away, and I had no obligations to anyone, I stopped paying much attention it. It is a holiday that can cause a lot of stress in foster and blended families. I’ve written before about how one of the best ways to lower the stress is...

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Foster ParentingMay 3, 2022

Five Ways You Can Help Foster Parents

This is National Foster Care Month, and today is National Foster Care Day. Not everyone has the resources to become a foster parent, but there are many other ways to help. Here are some ways that you can help a foster child short of parenting them. Some contributions don’t take much time, while others require...

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Speaking EngagementsApril 28, 2022

Join Me at the Renew Retreat in Raleigh, NC

In two weeks, I will be speaking at the Renew Retreat in Raleigh, NC. I will be part of an amazing lineup of speakers helping foster and adoptive parents find “Grace for the Journey,” the theme of the retreat. I will be discussing the challenges unique single parents and blended families. If you are in the area...

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ResilienceApril 26, 2022

Boys Who Have Suffered Trauma May Be Less Resilient Than Girls

A study from Australia indicates that boys who suffer from abuse are less resilient than girls. If these findings hold true in the United States, then those of us who parent children with trauma need to pay particular attention to the boys in our care. Our culture tends to treat boys as defective girls, and we need to...

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ResilienceApril 21, 2022

Embrace the Power of Being Our Child's Plan B

One of the hardest parts about raising other people’s children is overcoming their sense that you aren’t supposed to be there. We are only in their lives because they lost their first choice, an intact biological family. All of my children are part of my family only because I was their Plan B parent. Fortunately, being...

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Speaking EngagementsApril 19, 2022

Join me in Wisconsin on Saturday

I’ll be speaking Saturday (April 23) at the Wisconsin Foster and Adoptive Parents Association Spring Conference. I’ll be covering several important topics, including...

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Parenting TechniquesApril 7, 2022

How to Remain Sane When Your Adult Children Still Live at Home

One frequent question that I have heard recently is how to maintain your sanity with adult children living in your home. Sometimes these are kids who have never left, sometimes they are children who circle back for one reason or another. Over the years, I have had a variety of adult foster children and stepchildren living...

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Media AppearancesApril 5, 2022

Listen to Living The Dream, Where We Discuss the Joys of Plan B Parenting

Check out my conversation with Timothy Douglas on his podcast, Living the Dream. We had a great time talking about how being a child’s Plan B parent can be a wonderful and rewarding job...

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ResilienceMarch 31, 2022

Why Empowering Our Children is Not the Same As "Blaming the Victim"

One well-known problem in the child welfare field is that children who suffer abuse are at much higher risk of being victims of violence later in life. For parents of abuse victims, it is extremely important to empower our children and help them avoid becoming repeat...

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Parenting TechniquesMarch 29, 2022

Why We Should Give Kids More Control Over Their Lives and How to Do It

One thing that’s easy to forget as adults is how little control children have over their lives. That fact is particularly true for foster and stepchildren. We are in their lives because of decisions that adults, sometimes family and sometimes strangers, have made and over...

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Parenting TechniquesMarch 24, 2022

What Hobbits Can Teach Us About Being Good Mentors

In my last post, I talked about the importance of being mentors to our kids. Tomorrow is Tolkien Reading Day, and Tolkien’s works are a good reminder of the power of stories in our lives. The Lord of the Rings has become a cultural touchstone for many reasons, but primarily because it is a superbly crafted story...

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Parenting TechniquesMarch 22, 2022

Why Raising Other People's Children Requires That We Become Good Mentors

One of the toughest parts of parenting other people’s children is recognizing that we are not the people who are supposed to be there. As I’ve explained before, from a child’s perspective, we are not supposed to be in their lives. They have an almost primal sense that, if the world worked the way it should, they would not...

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Parenting TechniquesMarch 17, 2022

Four Things to Remember About How Teens Search for Identity

I often hear from parents upset because their teen or pre-teen has suddenly developed a whole new personality, complete with teen “attitude” and cynicism. The vast majority of the time, those changes are developmentally normal and temporary. If we just wait, our kids will eventually grow up and revert to their old...

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Parenting TechniquesMarch 15, 2022

Three Principles for Helping Children You Don't Understand

I have often felt that I just don’t understand the children that I am parenting. Their impulses often don’t make sense to me, and I can’t figure out why they make such bone-headed decisions. Most of the frustration comes from the fact that we have different personalities, and it takes work to understand each other...

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ResilienceMarch 10, 2022

Resilience or Self-Esteem -- Which Comes First in Recovering from Trauma?

A pattern that shows up very often in studies of resilience is a high correlation between resilience and self-esteem. It would be very easy to conclude that, if we help children develop self-esteem, we can also increase their resilience. These studies, however, only measure correlation, not causation. Furthermore, other...

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Parenting TechniquesMarch 8, 2022

Does It Matter Whether Our Kids Can't or Won't Behave?

One of the most frustrating aspects of parenting children with trauma is knowing whether they won’t make good choices or whether they can’t make them. The only answer I have found is that we rarely know which it is, so we have to approach every situation with humility and a large measure of grace....

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Parenting TechniquesMarch 3, 2022

How to Start Planning for Spring Break

As we head into warmer weather and spring holidays for school, we need to start planning how we are going to handle those holidays. I know it seems a bit early, but there really is no such thing as early with you are dealing with the complications of biological family or rules for foster children. Down time from school...

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ResilienceMarch 1, 2022

More Encouraging Evidence that Positive Experiences Can Counteract Traumatic Experiences

A recent study analyzed the extent to which positive experiences helped counteract adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and found some important and encouraging protective factors. The study looked at more than 3400 teenagers, and used a logistic regression analysis to compare factors (full disclosure: I do...

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ResilienceFebruary 24, 2022

How to Use History to Help Our Kids Learn Resilience

This week we celebrated President’s Day, and we’ve seen all the usual handwringing about what terrible and unenlightened people our ancestors were. Our modern culture seems to be intent on tearing down almost every well-known person in our history, believing that no one had any moral authority until we came...

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Foster ParentingFebruary 22, 2022

Why Respite Care is An Important Resource for Foster Parents

In my last post, I discussed the importance of having a support network for single parents. One of the least understood and most important parts of that network is having access to respite care. Taking care of someone else's children can be exhausting, especially when you layer on the child's trauma history, government...

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Foster ParentingFebruary 17, 2022

Important Ways to Meet the Challenges of Single Parenting

Earlier this week, we celebrated Valentine’s Day, and the holiday prompted memories of my service as a single foster parent. I wouldn’t trade the experience, but I can’t deny that it posed its own unique set of challenges. Some of you may find yourselves forced by circumstance to be a single parent, while others may be...

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Media AppearancesFebruary 15, 2022

Join Me on Mothers of Misfits Podcast

I was thrilled to be on one of my favorite podcasts, Mothers of Misfits, discussing the challenges of being a foster parent and helping traumatized kids. Check out my interview and follow the podcast (@emilymelious and @mothersofmisfits) to hear excellent practical advice from guests with a lot of experience.

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Speaking EngagementsFebruary 10, 2022

Join Us at the Renew Retreat in Raleigh

I will be speaking at the Renew Retreat in Raleigh NC, scheduled for May 12-14, 2022. If you are in (or can make it to) the Raleigh area, join us! It promises to be an exciting weekend for foster and adoptive parents...

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Parenting TechniquesFebruary 8, 2022

Why and How to Help Our Children Find Groups They Enjoy

One of the most important things we can do for our children is get them involved in groups outside school. Doing this is not easy, especially when it loads extra chauffeur and chaperone duties onto our already-long lists. If we can manage it, however, the benefits...

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ResilienceFebruary 3, 2022

Study: Positive Childhood Experiences Can Counterbalance Adverse Ones

A recent study provides more evidence that positive relationships in childhood may mitigate the effects of adverse experiences. The study was small, only 113 women, and it combined self-reporting with physiological measures. Nevertheless, it adds a bit more...

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Parenting TechniquesFebruary 1, 2022

How to Help Our Children Change Bad Habits

For many years, I never paid any attention to the holiday of Groundhog Day. Then the movie came out, and I was captivated. Now I try to mark the holiday every year by watching the movie again. One year, I even coerced my adorable and long-suffering nephew into...

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Foster ParentingJanuary 27, 2022

What I Wish I Had Known About Foster Parenting

Every so often, I think back to when I started service as a foster parent and how little I know about what I was getting into. I certainly don’t regret being a foster parent, and the fact that I know more now is a good sign that I am capable of learning. For newer foster...

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Parenting TechniquesJanuary 25, 2022

Four Ways to Limit Parenting Stress

One challenge in raising other people’s children is handling the sheer volume of difficult behavior and advice about how to deal with it. One of the best things we can do for ourselves and our children is to start limiting the number of issues that we try to control and...

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Foster ParentingJanuary 20, 2022

Check Out the Latest Review of My Book

One of the very helpful websites that I follow, A Fostered Life, recently posted a review of my book, Raising Other People's Children. Check out the review and then check out the book. Then let me know what you think!

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PodcastJanuary 19, 2022

A Conversation with Justice for Orphans

I had the opportunity to talk to Sandra Flach of Justice for Orphans on her podcast. She adopted 5 children, including kinship care and international adoptions. It was inspiring to compare notes with her about raising other people's children. Join us!

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Parenting TechniquesJanuary 18, 2022

Why and How to Help Our Kids Find Mentors

One of the most important things we can do for our kids is help them find mentors. Numerous studies show that a child’s having a positive relationship with an adult other than his or her parents is the most common factor connected to resilience. If we can be that person or help...

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Parenting TechniquesJanuary 13, 2022

Case Study: We Need Boundaries to Protect Our Entire Family

I recently ran across a news story that illustrates why we need strong boundaries when caring for traumatized children. A teacher found herself sentenced to jail after a jury acquitted her of a sexual relationship with a student, but convicted her of pursuing an illicit relationship. The verdict...

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Mental Health ResearchJanuary 11, 2022

Attention Disorders May Be A Bigger Challenge for Abused Children Than Anger Issues

For many decades, it has been conventional wisdom that children who suffer abuse become angry, and that anger in turn leads to aggression and social problems. The correlation between childhood abuse and those problems has been well-documented. We don't know much about the...

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Parenting TechniquesJanuary 6, 2022

We Need to Be Careful What We Label Child Abuse

I have become annoyed and concerned about the increasingly sloppy use of the term “child abuse.” From the Internet, I have learned that not getting a COVID vaccine for your children is child abuse. Requiring them to wear masks is child abuse. Feeding your children fast food is child abuse...

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January 4, 2022

How We Can Start With a Clean Slate, Or At Least Come Close

A new year is always a time when we hear and think about starting with a clean slate. It’s always such a tempting thought, but of course none of us can ever start with a completely clean slate. We always carry with us the results of our decisions and backgrounds. Our children, and perhaps...

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HolidaysDecember 16, 2021

How to Celebrate with Children of Different Faith Traditions

Today is the start of Las Posadas, a charming Christmas tradition from Mexico that I learned about only a few years ago. It’s a good reminder that we can always learn from our children who come from a different faith tradition. If one of our children follows a...

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HolidaysDecember 14, 2021

Lessons About the Holidays I Learned At Walt Disney World

We have just returned from a trip to Walt Disney World with a set of our kids and grandkids. Or as I like to refer to my family these days, some of my grandchildren and their domestic staff. (Priorities, you know). Of course, the trip reminded me that I no longer...

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HolidaysDecember 9, 2021

How to Help Your New Family Adjust to the Holidays

If your blended family or foster care placement are new, the holidays can be quite challenging. Not only do you have the awkward getting-to-know-you phase, but you have everyone’s holiday expectations layered on top of that. Here are some ideas that may help you navigate through the...

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PodcastDecember 7, 2021

Catch me on the Legal Mastermind Podcast

I was a guest recently on the Legal Mastermind podcast. Although the discussion focused on my legal practice, I explained how my experiences as a foster parent and stepparent have informed my legal work and vice versa...

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HolidaysDecember 2, 2021

Be Prepared for Holiday Sadness From Your Foster or Step Children

Holidays can be a difficult time, especially for foster or stepchildren. No matter how wonderful we are, their world is out of joint. They feel, whether consciously or not, that if the world worked the way it should, they would be with their biological family and would not know us. They may have...

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Media AppearancesNovember 30, 2021

Approaching the Holidays with Realism and Joy

I had a wonderful visit with Jodi Jackson Tucker of Second Mother, talking about how to approach the holidays with both realism and joy. Check out our conversation (and her gracious praise for my book) on her YouTube channel.

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HolidaysNovember 25, 2021

Have a Happy Thanksgiving

Enjoy your Thanksgiving Day, whether you are with your family or still looking forward to a later celebration. Reflecting on the challenges of complex blended and foster families reminded me of a quote from my favorite author...

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HolidaysNovember 23, 2021

Should We Get Presents for Our Kids' Biological Parents?

As we look past Thanksgiving toward Christmas, we’ll face one controversy that crops up every holiday season, i.e., what to do about kids’ presents to their biological parents. As a foster parent, I never questioned that I needed to help my children strengthen whatever relationship they had with...

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Foster ParentingNovember 18, 2021

Adoption is Wonderful, But It Doesn’t Cure Trauma

Many foster parents are able to eventually adopt their foster children. It’s a wonderful way to add to your family, and it’s an important step toward stability for a child. But as wonderful as adoption can be, it’s not a magic wand that resolves all of a child’s trauma. If...

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Parenting TechniquesNovember 16, 2021

We Need to Be Grateful for Our Kids, and Let Them Know

Most advice to foster parents and stepparents, including mine, focuses on the challenges of parenting those kids. There’s good reason for that emphasis, as the job can be daunting. I’ve often said that raising other people’s children (cough) is the most challenging...

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Step-parentingNovember 11, 2021

Honoring the Unique Challenges of Military Stepfamilies

This Veterans Day is a good opportunity to recognize the unique challenges that military stepfamilies face. I have never been in the military, but I know from listening to friends that raising a blended military family can be daunting. Sometimes, the biological parent is deployed, leaving the...

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Step-parentingNovember 9, 2021

Four Tips for Decreasing Holiday Stress

The fall & winter holidays always are difficult times for foster and blended families. Very few of us can manage peaceful meals with our kids’ extended biological families, and trying to plan all of the expected celebrations can be incredibly stressful. We have to balance competing needs of

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Parenting TechniquesNovember 4, 2021

It's Important to Our Kids When We Show Up

A Louisiana high school has discovered an age-old principle: when fathers show up, kids pay attention. Parents of the students became concerned after a series of fights and resulting arrests at their high school. But instead of simply demanding that...

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Parenting TechniquesNovember 2, 2021

It's Never too Early to Start Planning for the Holidays

One of our extended family emailed me last week, asking about our family plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was surprised, since I was still working on my plans for October. I hadn’t even thought about later months, much less made plans. At first I...

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Foster ParentingOctober 28, 2021

Five Ways to Help Foster Families

Not everyone has the resources to become a foster parent. Yet, it’s not an all or nothing proposition. If you want to help foster youth but lack the resources to parent them, there still is a lot that you can do. This Saturday, I will be speaking on this topic at the...

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Foster ParentingOctober 26, 2021

How To Decide If You Want to Be a Foster Parent

When I speak or appear on podcasts, one common question I hear is, “How do I decide if I want to become a foster parent?” It’s an understandable and very good question. The pull to provide a family to children who need one is strong, but parenting traumatized...

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Parenting TechniquesOctober 21, 2021

What It Means To Recognize Our Children Have Agency

I have been reading through a federal review of Missouri’s foster care agency. The headlines are alarming, proclaiming that Missouri lost track of many children in its system. When I read the review, however, it became clear that the vast majority of the missing “children” actually are teenage...

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Childhood TraumaOctober 19, 2021

Our Children's Trauma Does Not Control Their Future

“No,” my foster daughter patiently explained. “I can go to college without getting good grades. I can write a killer essay about how my dad deserted us, my mom is a drug addict, and now I live with you old people who don’t understand me. I have more than enough victim points to make up for...

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ResilienceOctober 14, 2021

One Important Way to Show Children How to Resist Bullying

When I was a young adult, I got a letter from an old schoolmate apologizing for some of her behavior during our school days. The letter surprised me, mainly because I had no memory of the incidents that she described. I realized that I probably had been the victim of her bullying, but it didn’t...

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BullyingOctober 12, 2021

How to Teach Empathy to Children with Trauma

One common theme in advice about how to respond to a child who is bullying another is to concentrate on teaching empathy. That task is easier said than done, and it can be particularly hard with a child who has suffered trauma. If you find yourself in that situation with one of your children...

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Parenting TechniquesOctober 7, 2021

How to Respond When Your Child Is the Bully

Another problem that we can face with traumatized children is that they can become the bully in a given situation. Children who have suffered trauma, particularly violent trauma, can learn the message that they have to be the one in power to avoid abuse. Or they can unconsciously...

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Parenting TechniquesOctober 5, 2021

How to Help When Your Child is Being Bullied

October is National Bullying Prevention month, so we will hear a lot about the topic over the next few weeks. If we parent children who have suffered trauma, our children are at high risk of being bullied. Their trauma makes them vulnerable, and vulnerable children are at much higher...

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Parenting TechniquesSeptember 30, 2021

How To Reduce Burnout By Letting Go of Decisions

While we are talking about the importance of not trying to be perfect, let’s consider a common problem of deciding on consequences for rule violations, particularly when you and your spouse don’t agree. It’s a common area of conflict between parents, but I have learned that it also...

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Parenting TechniquesSeptember 28, 2021

One Key Reason that We Burn Out as Parents

One of the common themes I hear, and have experienced, about raising other people’s children is how exhausting it can be. Parenting any child is difficult but stepping into a child’s history has its own sets of stressors. I have long thought that a big part of the problem is the high standards

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Step-parentingSeptember 23, 2021

Another Reason That Step Parents Are Important

 One of the principles that I constantly encourage is to realize that, while we as stepparents are not the people who are supposed to be in a child’s life, we should never apologize for the fact that we are the people who are there. We are making a commitment to our children, and we should...

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Media AppearancesSeptember 22, 2021

Listen to My Conversation with the Aging Out Institute

Check out my visit to the AOI podcast, which concentrates on preparing foster children for independence and adulthood. We discussed such topics as how to let teens safely learn from their mistakes, the importance of logical consequences, and how to give kids a glide path to becoming...

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ResilienceSeptember 21, 2021

Ways to Build Resilience in Young Adults

Young adults recover from childhood trauma through a combination of supportive relationships and self-reliance, according to a survey of 13 previous mental health studies. The total sample size was small, only 277 young adults, but the small population allowed researchers to ask...

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ResilienceSeptember 14, 2021

Less-Than-Perfect Parenting Is Good For Our Kids

I often wonder what some of my now-adult children think about my blog posts, given that they lived through many of the mistakes that I have made. I imagine them rolling their eyes and saying, “It would have been nice if she had done that way back then.” And they are right. It would have been...

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ResilienceSeptember 9, 2021

Ways to Help Build Resilience

As we look at resilience this month, some mental health articles offer some interesting data about how we can help children exposed to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). An older study of sexually abused girls had a small sample size, but gathered information from in-depth interviews...

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ResilienceSeptember 7, 2021

Building Resilience by Building Relationships

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, an important issue for those of us who work with children who have suffered trauma. To help long-term with depression and anxiety, we need to find ways to help our children build resilience. Life is going to throw hard things their way in the...

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Parenting TechniquesSeptember 2, 2021

Why I Look for Low-Maintenance Consequences for Children

In my last post, I discussed the doctrine of logical consequences for motivating kids. In this post, I want to discuss the importance of low maintenance consequences that impact your child more than you. I have always had jobs that take a lot of my time, and many popular parenting...

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Media AppearancesSeptember 1, 2021

Listen to the OG Inspiration Podcast

Check out my wide-ranging conversation with Dr. Odell Glenn about my book and the life lessons I learned from my foster children and stepchildren.

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Parenting TechniquesAugust 31, 2021

How to Use Logical Consequences with Children

Sometimes it’s hard to motivate kids to develop good habits and follow house rules. The technique that is easiest for us, nagging and lecturing, only works (at best) for a short time. Our instinctive response to just lecture longer and louder doesn’t help and can make things worse. To make any...

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Childhood TraumaAugust 26, 2021

How to Help Our Children Untangle Their Emotions

One of our dogs is a rescue, and her early life experiences have left her a bit anxious and high-strung. Whenever we come home, she spins in circles, vocalizing her displeasure that we left without her in the first place. One afternoon, my youngest stepson was watching her antics and...

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Parenting TechniquesAugust 24, 2021

How to Respond to "You Are Not My Parent!"

One of the hardest things to hear from one of our kids is “You are not my parent! You can’t tell me what to do!” Stepparents and foster parents usually hear that in the middle of an argument about house rules, boundaries, or advice. I never heard that reaction from my stepsons, but I heard...

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Media AppearancesAugust 19, 2021

Join Me On The Other Side of Potential

Check out my visit to Sharon Spano's podcast, The Other Side of Potential. We discussed childhood trauma, how to be a Plan B parent, balancing responsibilities, and many more themes from my book.

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Media AppearancesAugust 17, 2021

Keeping It Together . . .

I enjoyed my podcast visit on Conversations with Toni, whose motto is "Keeping It Together, One Podcast at a Time." Check out our conversation...

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Childhood TraumaAugust 12, 2021

The Trap of Blaming Other People

The first Friday-the-13th of every year is “Blame Someone Else Day.” This year, that day is this week. I love these made-up holidays because they give me an opportunity to think about things that I usually overlook. This humorous day is a good reminder...

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Parenting TechniquesAugust 10, 2021

Don't Forget About the Quiet No-Problem Child

This Thursday is National Middle Child Day, a good time to think about the children in our families who tend to get overlooked. Now, I don’t know that middle children really do get overlooked. Dr. Alfred Adler’s famous theory about birth order...

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Foster ParentingAugust 5, 2021

Important Principles of Accommodating Childhood Trauma

Finding good educational accommodations for children with trauma requires thinking outside the usual box. The techniques that teachers and administrators are used to implementing often do not help our kids. We have to explain that trauma can cause children to feel unsafe and to be on...

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Media AppearancesAugust 4, 2021

Radio Show Appearance

I spend an enjoyable hour talking to Donna Seebo on her radio show. Listen to it in her archives here. Search for Show #2841 on July 22, 2021.

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Childhood TraumaAugust 3, 2021

Insisting on Accommodations for Children With Trauma

The school year will start soon, or already has started. Children with trauma have a very hard time fitting into routines, and we need to be prepared to advocate for them with whatever schools they attend. I have never recommended being a helicopter parent, but...

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