Monthly Archives: January 2014

Top 15 Tips for Enlightened Stepfamilies

Would you be surprised if I told you…

  • One of three Americans is now a stepparent, a stepchild, a stepsibling, or some other member of a stepfamily.
  • More than half of Americans today have been, are now or will eventually be in one or more step situations during their lives.

You became a stepfamily because one of you made a decision based on the belief that you could “do this” and that “this will be worth it to be with my Honey!” Those are powerful reasons that deserve your time, attention and energy.

The imperative in front of you is to create a family structure that is a safe and loving place for everyone to grow and be their best self; model respectful, thoughtful, value-driven choices and behavior; and live your best and most passionate life.

Across the pond and around the world stepfamilies are the most challenging family constellation—for stepparents and for stepchildren!

Dr. Jackie’s Top 15 Tips for Enlightened Stepfamilies

1.   Don’t try to fit a preconceived role. Be yourself.

2.   Accept that stepfamily members don’t have to love each other, especially right away. You all must behave respectfully toward each other.

3.   Parent with the *End* in mind. Value-driven parenting will help you stay mindful of EVERYBODY’S legitimate needs and avoid power struggles.

4.   Develop cooperative and respectful relationships. Look for the good in every family member; offer frequent positive feedback; and respect everyone’s need for space and privacy.

5.   Define household rules and rituals.

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About Having Needs and Getting Them Met by Others

It is our personal responsibility to become mindful and stay mindful of our own needs and wants as well as the needs and wants of our partners, children and others in our family and social systems.

I think most of us are better at keeping track of what others need and want than we are staying current with our own needs and ourselves.

  • Are you comfortable with the notion that it is your right to have needs and that you cannot meet all your needs?
  • Are you clear about some or many of your current needs? Do you recognize your needs and respect them?
  • Do you have a good understanding of which needs you can meet and which needs can/must be met by others?
  • Do you agree, at least in concept, that it is acceptable and, in fact, reasonable to ask others to meet some of your needs?
  • How able and willing are you to honor your needs and ask others to help you meet your needs?
  • In the U.S. especially, we are becoming a culture of “do-it-yourselfers.” Autonomy, self-reliance, self-sufficiency and independence are too highly valued and I think we are taking some of these behaviors and beliefs to a dangerous extreme.

Some of us are actually excluding others and not taking advantage of help and support when we could or should do so.

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On Being Single

I bet you didn’t know there are 100+ million single men and women in the United States today.

What does being single mean to you?

Being single is not…

  • An affliction
  • A condition
  • An unfortunate state
  • A problem
  • Something that you need to change

Being single is not evidence …
…that you are not lovable
…that there is something wrong with you
…that you need to be better, different or more

Each one of us has a unique purpose. We create meaningful work, rich relationships and a magnificent, fulfilling life when we live on purpose. When we live from our being we live a life in alignment with our vision, values and life purpose. 

When we live from our being we can genuinely love and be loved by others.

Don’t confuse being single with living a life that is “less than.” Avoid judging and comparing the lives of others. Richness, passion, satisfaction, fulfillment and personal reward come in many different packages.

If you find yourself judging yourself or others, stop and listen to the voice deep within you. What are the words that are being spoken? What are the thoughts associated with this judgment? Can you identify the energy or the feelings inside you? Do you notice any tension anywhere in your body?

What does your mother believe about being single? What does your father believe about being single? Was there a time in your life when someone you respected offered a derogatory point of view about being single?

Sit down for a few minutes and invite your thoughts, memories, feelings and body sensations to be present inside you. Take a few deep breaths. Allow yourself to just be with this experience. Resist making any interpretations or any meaning about what you are experiencing.

Our judgments, actions and reactions are a rich source of information for us to explore and to learn from.  Thank yourself for becoming aware of this judgment you hold about yourself and or others. There is nothing to do in the moment.  Allowing the awareness is a big enough job. Respect it and let it just be for now.

There is an old saying, “All things in their own time and space.” Let this be the time that you are becoming aware. With increased awareness comes increased choice and deeper knowing. Trust the process.

Remember, only YOU can make it happen!


Original Content by Jackie Black, Ph.D., BCC ~
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Guest Blogger Rosalind Sedacca, CCT: 5 Ways to Minimize the Impact of Divorce on Your Children

Happy New Year! Welcome to Ask Dr. Jackie, the relationship-focused blog that brings you down to earth advice and relationship success skills every week from a relationship expert who has been there -me!

This week I have invited Rosalind Sedacca, CCT, and the Voice of Child-Centered Divorce, to write a blog post.

Rosalind is the author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! and the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and International Child-Centered Divorce Month.

It is not an accident that January is International Child-Centered Divorce month and Rosalind is kicking off the month with a blog post here at Ask Dr. Jackie.

During the entire month of January, divorce professionals around the globe will unite to educate parents about how to prevent negative consequences for children during and after separation or divorce.

In North America, Europe, Australia, Africa, Asia and beyond divorce experts will be announcing teleseminars, workshops, coaching, press conferences and other activities designed for divorced parents and those contemplating divorce.

Parents are invited to visit and download free gifts–ebooks, audio and video presentations, and learn about professional services and other perks from a growing roster of child-centered divorce experts.

I hope Rosalind’s article offers you new information inspiration and hope. Please share this post with anyone you think might be supported or encouraged by reading it.

And please listen to my recent radio (podcast) interview with Rosalind at

See you next week!

Until then, Remember only YOU can make it happen!


5 Ways to Minimize the Impact of Divorce on Your Children

By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT

Communication with our children is always important, but never as essential as when they are impacted by separation or divorce. Children are vulnerable and easily frightened by changes in their routines. The more you talk to and comfort them, the less stress and anxiety they’ll experience. This is the time to reassure your children that you are taking care of matters and everyone in the family will be okay. Then, of course, take responsibility for doing what needs to be done to assure their well-being.

Here are five important ways you can minimize the impact of divorce on your children to help them thrive during and after your divorce.

1.   Strive to keep as much normalcy in your children’s lives as is feasible. Maintaining relationships with friends and neighbors provides a sense of stability and continuity. Keeping children in the same school and remaining in the same house, when possible, serves to remind children that life is still going on as usual in many ways. That awareness makes it easier to adapt to the other changes happening at the same time. Always make decisions based on their emotional security.

2.   Make spending time and attention with your children a priority. With all the stress in your life it’s easy to overlook your kid’s need for stability and security. The best source for that is you. It’s easy to take solace with friends or bury yourself in work, but your children need you more than ever right now. Your love and attention are the most valuable resources you can share with them. Make sure you are generous with both!

3.   Talk to your children about ways to discuss the divorce with their friends and extended family. Coach them on answers to probing questions from the outside, such as, “I don’t know. My mom and dad are working on that.” Or “You’ll have to ask my mom about that.” Do whatever it takes to remember that your children deserve to have and keep their childhood. Let them be kids. Never burden them with adult responsibilities or communication.

4.   Seek out other families who have experienced divorce as part of a new network. This can provide support and new friends for you as well as your children. They will appreciate meeting other kids who know what they are going through and can share feelings and stories. School guidance counselors may be able to help you find support groups, clubs or other gatherings.

5.   Don’t wait for emotional or behavior problems to appear. It is often wise to talk to a family therapist in advance about issues to be aware of. Or schedule a few sessions with your children so they can express their anxiety, fear, anger, etc. and feel “heard” by an objective third party. Ask friends, pediatricians or school professionals for referrals to therapists experienced with divorce.

Some days you may want to hide in a closet or under the blankets in bed. So may your children. But they can’t always express what they are feeling and why. It is your responsibility to be diligent in protecting your children — emotionally as well as physically. Keep the doors to communication open as non-judgmentally as you can. This will go a long way toward helping the children you love get through these challenging times with the best possible outcome.

*     *     *

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Divorce & Parenting Coach and author of the internationally-acclaimed ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! For her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right!, her blog and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues go to:

© Rosalind Sedacca, CCT  All rights reserved.
Printed with permission of author.


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Hello. I am Dr. Jackie Black, your Couples in Trouble Expert. Since 1999, I have guided many formerly frustrated and desperately unhappy Couples in Trouble to happiness, closeness and having more fun together than they ever imagined. My years of experience combined with your commitment to your personal growth will enable you to welcome the results you have always wanted and never believed were possible in your marriage.

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