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Episode 9


Susan Stiffelman

What to Say to Your Kids About Dating and Blending Families During the Holidays

Episode 9

What to Say to Your Kids About Dating and Blending Families During the Holidays


Susan Stiffelman

Dating Den Episode 9 – With Susan Stiffelman: What to Say to Your Kids About Dating and Blending Families During the Holidays

Say there’s a great new guy in your life and you think he can become part of your family…

He’s met your kids and it went well… or well enough…

You have given it time, and you think now it’s time to start to blend your two worlds…

In your happy place, you allow yourself to think… Wouldn’t it be great IF the two most important parts of your life could come together…

What happens when (and I mean when) your kids resist… how should you handle it?

Is it ever okay to bargain with your child… like, just do this one thing for me and you can, get that really short skirt you want… or play video games at the dinner table? (the answer will surprise you)

Should you, the parent, ever have to compromise with your child… or is it my way or the highway?

What if you don’t have your own kids but… that great guy you met has kids…?

How do you make sure your relationship survives the ‘blending’… and how can you be a great partner in that situation?

Get all of these questions answered on today’s podcast, as I explore dating and blending families during the holidays with the super smart and amazing Susan Stiffelman. Susan is a marriage and family therapist, a credentialed speaker, and a licensed psychotherapist. She is the Huffington Post’s Parent Coach and has devoted 30 years to working with families to create greater harmony and deeper connections between parents and their children.

Be the Captain of the Ship [2:51]

Susan says the most important thing for a single parent to do is to set boundaries in their relationship so the child does not become a partner or a companion.

Single parenting can take the form of a Captain, Lawyer or Dictator.

The Captain – The steady, sturdy person in charge. The child feels heard, understood and comforted especially when there is upheaval in their life.

The Lawyer – The negotiator who allows the child to believe there is no one in charge.

The Dictator – The authoritarian who deals in fear and intimidation.

So when your child says “I don’t know why you have to go on that date” or “I don’t like that guy you’ve been dating, He’s such a loser”, know that they are in feeling mode. They are masking what they are feeling in words that may have nothing to do with what they truly feel.

When a child is upset don’t engage them. Frustrated children become aggressive or they adapt. Help the child to feel their sadness by listening to them.

Is it OK to Bargain or Compromise? [21:55]

When parents are longing for companionship and starting to date it can prompt compromises in parenting. When responding to a child with a compromise or an uncomfortable fix you are undermining the development of resilience. It is basically telling the child you don’t have faith in their capacity to cope with this.

You can’t be afraid of your children. Kids need you to be solid and sturdy.

What if Your Ex Spends an Insane Amount of Money on Your Kid? [28:01]

The stories we tell ourselves is what derails most single parents. Kids are looking for a simple way to be with mom and dad. We know what nurtures kids and feeds them at the soul level are small demonstrations of affection, not money and gifts. A real connective moment with a child may be what they remember above all else.

Wealthy kids aren’t any happier than kids whose parents earn a baseline revenue.

How to Be a Great Partner to a Parent During the Holidays [32:25]

Realize the holidays are not an easy time for kids. It’s just a matter of adjusting your expectations. Kids should come first.

Don’t ask a man to choose between you and his children and don’t make them feel guilty. It announces you as inflexible and not so good partner for the long term. But, also don’t be a doormat or let it be ok if he breaks every date!

Tips for Blended Families [38:14]

  • Go slowly when establishing relationships with stepchildren.
  • Don’t force yourself on your stepkids and don’t need them to like you.
  • Stepparents should view themselves as a caring uncle or aunt instead of another parent.
  • Biological parents should always do the disciplining.
  • Let the child know you like to be around them.
  • Don’t force yourself on your stepkids and don’t need them to like you.
  • Understand the nasty comments they make are not personal.
  • Cut the kids some slack.

Children do best when parents are living a balanced and full life!

Tips for Blended Families [38:14]

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