Monday, May 16, 2011

Creating TEAM in StepCouples: Highlight to Interview on StepMom's Toolbox

After only a couple days, my interview was #3 in the ranks of 765 within its category. The biggest honor, truly, is simply being a guest on the show. I know that sounds cliché, but there have been so many respected knowledgeable experts and authors before me. Last month was the 3 Year Anniversary of The Stepmom’s Toolbox Blogtalk Radio Show. Peggy Nolan, the Executive Director and main host, obviously knows what she’s doing. To her credit, she has 2 great co-hosts, Teresa Thompson and Erin Erickson, who share in the interviewing. They all have personal experience in the trenches of daily stepfamily life. They offer valuable insights, as well as broaden the scope of every topic brought to the table.

Their show is live every Monday from 8:00 to 9:00 PM EST. But if you can’t make it, show up any time to listen to shows in their archives. Even better, download episodes to share with others. Each show has valuable content, insight, and advice. They target stepmoms primarily and secondarily others in or around a stepfamily. The educational value is there for the taking, even for somebody who hasn’t experienced stress in a stepfamily. A few of my favorite guests are Mary-Kelly Williams, Donna Ferber, and Erin interviewing her stepkids, as well as Gloria Lintermans talking about her book The Secrets to Stepfamily Success. Also, I’m anxious to hear Sheila Dean on Monday talk about How to Date Your Mate when in a stepfamily.

Now, the replay of my interview, Creating TEAM in StepCouples, has been added to my list of favorite Stepmom’s Toolbox archives. To make it more special, my sister shared with me that she had an “Aha!” moment while listening to me discuss how bio-parents can mistakenly keep the stepparent powerless. She now recognizes how she maintained the power differential in her previous marriage without realizing it. If you missed it, I wrote up a few highlights below. You’ll have to tune in, though, for the real-life examples I gave of a stepfamily.

Teamwork is the biggest ally between co-parents. Teamwork is Power, because it strengthens boundaries. It is a tool that builds unity and prevents it from breaking down. It is an assistant in building rapport between the stepparents and stepchildren. The stronger the (co-parent) team, the more cohesive the stepfamily, the less misbehavior by the children, the higher likelihood of staying together.

Teamwork is more important in a stepfamily than first family. Every relationship and family has challenges and disagreements, but many stay together in spite of them. Those same challenges and disagreements cause heightened conflict in stepfamilies. Why is there a difference? In a first family, parents have equal and automatic power and influence. They have equal advantages: history, biological bond, and unconditional love. Regardless of arguments or problems, these 3 things never change. Each family member adapts to the others’ nuances from the day each kid is born. In a stepfamily, the stepparents are essentially strangers to their stepchildren. History has to be learned through 2nd-hand stories and pictures. Memories – good times - have to be created. Love is conditional. Respect comes first. Love may or may not happen. If it does, it’s after a lot of time has passed and after the stepparent has proven herself. Teamwork is a shortcut to creating memories and building respect.

Dad has equal responsibility in building a TEAM with his partner, the kids’ StepMom. He should tell his kids that he respects her decisions and expects them to listen to her. He needs to follow-up his words through his actions. If he disagrees with a direction she gives his son, he should make sure his son obeys, but talk to her about it in private later. If Dad doesn’t back her, he breaks down the team and hinders her ability to gain rapport with his children.

When StepMom has been accepted emotionally as a maternal figure, she can take more initiative in making rules on the spot and creating new punishments. Once she is accepted, she has direct influence, so going through Dad is less important. StepMoms, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Has your partner ever outwardly disagreed with you in front of the kids?
2. Has he ever not supported an independent decision you made? This is usually by doing something contradictory to your decision.
3. Has he not backed you on ALL parenting (rules and consequences)?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your partner is not being a team player. Acquiesce to his parenting style, even if you disagree with it, but talk to him privately. The worst thing you can do is introduce new rules or ways of doing something. This may not be what you want to hear, but it will give you the least amount of stress. If your stepchild rejects your directive, your partner probably will too. Since he hasn’t always backed you, he probably still won’t, yet again undermining your authority and keeping you powerless. Influence your partner to change through private conversations with him. If he refuses to stop, continue to follow his parenting style and intermittently talk to him.

When you take hubby aside to talk personally, ideally it should be in a place where you’re sure not to be disturbed and the kids won’t overhear. I recommend framing the conversation in the context of how stepfamilies are different than first families and requires different tactics. Point to the myriad of research and resources that has documented the differences. Most of the resources are new within the last few years, but the first research dates back a couple decades. Explain a little about what you’ve learned and ask for his help in adapting to your new stepfamily. Phrasing your conversation with these 2 things in mind should hopefully keep him off the defensive and make him more receptive to changing.

What if Dad doesn’t change? What if he refuses to adapt to stepfamily life? Maybe he doesn’t understand that stepfamilies require doing things differently. Even if he says he understands, he may not *get* it. There is no magic wand you can wave over his head to make him get it. There are no magic words. We can’t place a spell on him. Continue to point him to the research, which documents the factual differences, along with the reasons, by many experts. My favorite book is The Secrets to Stepfamily Success by Gloria Lintermans. I’m also a fan of National Stepfamily Resource Center, and of course, The Stepfamily Foundation. If he still refuses to change, you are powerless. As a stepparent, the extent of your power goes only to the extent that the BioParent gives you.

The bottom line is that change happens when a stepfamily forms. Ideally, both adults should work together in managing the changes (adapting) in a way that is a win-win for everybody. If 1 person is trying to adapt and the other is steadfastly trying to hold onto a method that isn’t working, the couple is going to have relationship issues. The sad truth is that not everybody who should change does. And not everybody who we try to change need to change. Either way, sometimes we work ourselves into a frenzy trying to get somebody else to change a habit, behavior, or way of doing something. That’s the case in all types of relationships - not just stepfamilies. So to relieve a little stress of my clients, as well as myself in trying to help them, I came up with an easy way for people to keep ourselves in check – to not overwork ourselves in trying to change somebody who won’t change, yet also determine if the person will change. It’s the AWAIT system of change…- A – W – A – I - T. Awareness – Willingness – Action Plan – Implementation – Tracking. Whether they’re aware of it or not, everybody who decides to change a habit, behavior, or way of doing something, go through each of these steps. If we want somebody, like our partner, to change something, like his parenting style, we need to engage him in a conversation to see if he is:
• A – Aware of the benefits of making the change
• W – Willing to go through the process of making the change
• A – Acts by making a plan
• I – Implements his action plan
• T – tracks his progress. Tracking is the only step that is not absolutely necessary, but significantly increases the likelihood of success.
You can read more about my AWAIT system of change here.

Teamwork seems to be obvious and not disputed. Yet, it is frequently mentioned in stepfamily relationships. For one reason, adult children of broken homes and many others have never learned how to have a healthy relationship. Secondly, there are far more misunderstandings, miscommunications, and hurt feelings in stepfamilies. Thirdly, most families have very busy lives. Stress is constant: work, traffic, dealing with Customer Service Rep of XYZ Company about a wrong charge, and maintaining the household (scheduling kids’ activities and transportation, budgeting, parenting, and working on your relationship). It’s easy to get off track. We all need to practice teamwork and hope it will eventually become second nature.

The extent of a StepMom’s power is the extent to what the BioDad gives her. He has to respect her in order for the kids to respect her. He has to allow her to be parental toward his kids. If he doesn’t want it, his influence will negate her power. His kids will do as he does. If he undermines her authority, so will the kids. If he thinks she’s being too strict, the kids are going to work that to their advantage.

The imbalance of power is a more potent issue with a childless stepmom. When both adults have children, the power is equal with respect to their own children. Childless StepMoms, however, don’t have equal advantages: a past history, blood bond, and unconditional love. Moms who share homes with Dads always carry the role of Mom. Regardless of the other sources of stressors and dissention, she will never lose that title as part of her identity. A childless stepmom could easily lose her sense of identity because she doesn’t have a defined role within the house. Everybody is expecting her to behave a certain way or do certain things, often without telling her. They probably think she already knows. On top of that, their expectations often conflict with everybody else’s. Therefore, it is even more important for a childless StepMom to have an external support system and identity aside from the home. This could be co-workers, a support group, a woman’s group, or a church group to name a few. On-line groups, especially in Facebook, are very popular. Otherwise, a childless stepmom has the potential of feeling isolated and alone, which can lead to an emotionally unhealthy environment.

As usual, I welcome comments and questions.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Incomplete Grief is Overlooked as a Reason Relationships Fail

When people hear the word grief, they immediately think of mourning somebody's death. This is accurate, but it overlooks the many other ways of grieving. Random House Webster's Dictionary defines grief as "deep sorrow". By that definition, it logically follows that people grieve the loss of their relationship or family after divorce. Unsurprisingly, the grief feels more harsh to kids. Yet, it afflicts adults in profound ways as well. If people don't allow themselves or their children to grieve at all or enough, it can have detrimental effects on subsequent relationships.

Everybody needs to adjust to the "new normal" after losing a loved one. This is true whether you are widowed or divorced. The loss creates a hole which propels people to fill. The grieving process fills the hole with acceptance, forgiveness, encouragement, confidence, and happiness. Sometimes, it also teaches a lesson. Without the grieving process, people tend to fill it in other ways, including addictions and new relationships. Both are self-destructive in that they discourage or prevent healing.

Children learn from their parents directly through their words and indirectly by modeling their actions. Parents who overlook the grieving process in themselves also tend to miss signs of incomplete grief in their children. Consequently, nobody heals; nobody becomes healthy in mind, body, and spirit. Symptoms include discipline challenges, emotional or behavioral outbursts, lower grades, and difficulty forming new friendships.

Adults who immediately move on to a new relationship before fully grieving the loss of their previous relationship are least likely to have a fulfilling lasting relationship. It is likely they entered into the new relationship as a means of filling the hole, which is the wrong reason. They internally want things to be the way they were, while outwardly expressing acceptance and excitement over their new love. They place unrealistic expectations on the new relationship and partner, and then feel frustrated when reality hits. Their partner may be doing the same thing.

Sudden and unexpected separation causes the most grief. This is why grief is most harsh to children. Even when adults see or experience warning signs of pending separation, or slowly fall out of love with their spouse, the kids feel blindsided because they didn't see it coming. It takes time to come to terms with change. Grieving can only start after a person becomes aware of the loss. Ideally, this should be before the children are uprooted from their home, school, and friends. When this doesn't (can't) happen, parents should be keenly tuned to how the children adjust.

The Secrets of Stepfamily Success, by Gloria Lintermans, discusses the full process of grief in both adults and children. She explains the need to grieve both tangible and intangible losses, gives examples, and lists signs of incomplete grief. I highly recommend reading her book, especially if you are a separated or divorced parent and are considering forming a relationship with a new partner.

Judy Graybill
Stepfamily Coach
Sensible Steps, LLC
Solutions for Today's Families

Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

This is the time of year when people reflect on things they've accomplished or didn't. It is a time of evaluation and planning; a time of preparing to take action and change. The best way to do this is to be honest with yourself. We can't truly improve if we can't see the forest through the trees. Try to step back from your reflections and try to look at it from your partner's view. Or, instead of your partner, choose a person whom you respect and who portrays traits you would like to emulate. How would that person describe the circumstances you're evaluating and possibly want to change? You don't have to share your answer with anybody. Keep it to yourself, but be as honest as possible.

Look at both the positive and negative aspects - the big picture. Congratulate yourself for all of the positive. Reward yourself. Now, plan to change the negative. If it's a big list, don't try to change it all at once. Taking on too much change all at once, depending on what it is, could doom you to failure. At least, it may stack odds against your success. This is the best way, IMO, to choose New Year's Resolutions, because it increases your chances of achieving them.

The next best way to increase your odds of accomplishment is to have a solid action plan on how to resolve what you'd like to change. Many people often leave out this step and wonder why they weren't able to keep their resolutions. Some of those people spend excessive amount of time criticizing themselves for failure. This is unproductive. Spend some time working through the details of how you achieve your new year's resolution. Don't be shy about getting a buddy to work on the same goal or to ask for support from the people who are closest to you. Support and encouragement goes a long way in helping people, but it is often undermined.

One of my new year's resolutions is to work on balancing my mind, body, and spirit. My action plan includes specific times on when I will meditate, work, and do yoga. It includes the type of yoga, props, and an instructional video because I just started yoga a couple days ago. I already scheduled yoga classes to be recorded from the FitTV cable channel. This is one small example of how I plan to achieve my New Year's Resolution per my suggestion above. It is fairly simple instead of elaborate, but it is still specific. The next part of my plan is to implement this new regime for 40 days and track my progress daily.

This is part of a process I call AWAIT. It is an acronym for the following: Awareness, Willingness, Action plan, Implementation, and Tracking. You can read the full article here.

For other tips on choosing and keeping new year's resolutions, I recommend watching this short video of my friend, Coach Jenn Lee, who has had success helping many people. It is called How to keep a New Year's Resolution.

Good Luck! Feel free to keep me posted on your progress.

Judy Graybill
Stepfamily Coach,
Sensible Steps, LLC
Solutions for Today's Families

Friday, December 24, 2010

Have a Happy Holiday Season

I hope everybody has a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or other festival, and an enjoyable holiday season!

Please remember 2 things:
1) Take time for yourself as well. Giving is what Christmas is about, but give to yourself as well. Give yourself quality time of relaxation or to do something you enjoy. Savor the time with your family.

2) The best gift you can give your children, whether step or biological, is to not argue with the other biological or step parent. If they aren't around to argue with, don't talk bad about them. This is a sign of your love for them because it is truly in their best interest.

Best Regards,

Judy Graybill
Stepfamily Coach
Sensible Steps, LLC
Solutions for Today's Families

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Legal Rights Of Step-Parents

This video discusses a sensitive topic. Step parents are "legal strangers". This is a sad reality in times of a medical emergency. There are other circumstances as well in which a child's needs can be compromised due to this legal misfortune. Biological parents can change it, if they choose, through legal documents. In order for that to happen, both biological parents have to agree to set aside any differences with each other or the step parent, in favor of the child's needs.

This is a particularly poignant topic for me as I've personal experience as a step mom without legal rights. I had an unrealistic expectation of being a "normal family" when I first became an acting stepmom. ["Acting StepMom" was a term I created because I was cohabitating with my boyfriend and wasn't legally married.] I wanted to be involved and make a difference. After helping my boyfriend's son with his homework, checking his homework, signing off on assignments, it was always disappointing (to put it mildly) that I was not invited or welcome at parent-teacher conferences. It seemed wrong to me since I was the main person involved with the rest of the educational process - all aspects of homework.

On top of that, when my boyfriend's son was in an accident at school, they were not allowed to give me any information. I was the only person home, which was the first number called. I was left in the dark to worry. After fervently trying to get a hold of my boyfriend at work (as did the school), all I could do was wait. I felt like a glorified babysitter without the glory. Yet, I was expected to put my life on hold to care for him when he was in a body cast and couldn't go to school. I was the one who made sure his homework was picked up from school and dropped off completed. When there was an issue pertaining to his educational needs, I talked to various people at the school, including the principal, to make sure the issue was taken care of. For that, they knew me personally, even though they never knew how to address me. I was the girlfriend of the dad of the student. Usually, they didn't spell out the full title.

Judy Graybill
Stepfamily Coach
Sensible Steps, LLC
Solutions for Today's Families

Monday, November 29, 2010

What is a Dysfunctional Stepfamily?

A dysfunctional stepfamily results when a dysfunctional first family transitions into a stepfamily, by either cohabitation or marriage. Additionally, two healthy first families can produce a dysfunctional stepfamily, by cohabitation or marriage, if they have unrealistic expectations or don’t know how to make a cohesive stepfamily from two different families.

Stepfamily dynamics begin the minute a single parent becomes seriously involved with a partner and the new partner starts interacting with the kids. A stepfamily is formed when the single family and new partner move in together (cohabitate) or get married. A single family refers to either a never-married parent or a couple who is divorced, widowed, or separated but not legally divorced. Of course, this includes any adult, regardless or marital status and without children, who become seriously involved with a single parent.

The next logical question is to define a dysfunctional family. The definition has evolved over the decades with societal trends, and varies by researcher or statistic-gathering team. I define a dysfunctional family as a family unit who is emotionally or physically unhealthy. This includes sexual abuse, although I don’t discuss the subject here. Happiness, or rather unhappiness, is entirely different. Happiness refers to an emotion, whereas unhealthiness refers to a state of being or a state of mind. It is a long-term situational condition; whereas happiness is temporary. One’s happiness can change in minutes, hours, or days. An unhealthy living environment is ongoing. A person can be happy in an unhealthy environment or unhappy in a healthy environment.

A happy person in an unhealthy (dysfunctional) family may mean he/she is unaware of how unhealthy it is. In most cases, this would be a young child who may not be a target of unhealthy attitudes, not exposed to them, or simply doesn’t get what is going on around them. There are also many cases of adults who don’t know if their living arrangement is unhealthy enough to warrant leaving. They don’t want to be deemed a failure for giving up – quitting. Some people don’t recognize the warning signs because they can’t see the forest through the trees. Others don’t recognize red flags because they were raised in a similar dysfunctional environment. Adult children of divorce are more vulnerable to dysfunctional relationships because their parents were unable to model a healthy relationship. These are only a few possible explanations for becoming or joining a dysfunctional family. Researchers have come up with many more.

Divorce does not automatically beget dysfunction. Many single parents do a phenomenal job raising their children in a very healthy atmosphere. My mom is one example. I was shocked when a friend of mine had labeled my family as dysfunctional because I never felt that way. Likewise, he was shocked that I was in a dysfunctional family because of how well-adjusted I was. Respect and hospitality for everybody, and other healthy qualities, were commonplace in our house. Mom raised us without shame and never spoke badly about my dad, in spite of being an alcoholic and having an affair. My self-esteem had remained intact in large part due to my mom’s perspective and demeanor. Hence, my definition of dysfunction is unrelated to marital status or family structure.

How does somebody figure out if they are in a dysfunctional relationship? Moreover, how does one decide when it would be better to leave than stay? Disagreements, miscommunication, and unhappy times exist in healthy relationships. Couples in them try to ignore occasional unresolved issues. Nobody can be happy all the time. Everybody has bad days. All children test their parents and try to get away with something wrong. They don’t always listen and obey. Many parents argue about how and when to punish their children. Therefore, the mere existence of these ordeals does not define dysfunction.

Dysfunction is characterized by an excessive amount of arguments, unresolved issues, and unhappy times. Depression, addiction, and other behavior or personality disorders are often found in members of a dysfunctional family. Gottman and Markman derived the Four Horsemen to narrow down reasons relationships fail: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. These are grounds by which to re-evaluate your method of resolving conflict.

Ask yourself the following questions to help you determine if you are in a dysfunctional (step)family. Then rate your answers with the frequency: never, rarely, sometimes, most of the time, or always.
1. Do you care if arguments are resolved?
2. Do you enjoy spending time with your partner?
3. Does your partner make you smile by doing any of the following: complimenting you, doing something nice for you, say thank you/show appreciation, or remember special occasions?
4. Do you feel comfortable discussing personal concerns with your partner?
5. Do you feel that you and your partner are a team working together?

If you answered ‘most of the time’ or ‘always’ to 3 or more questions, congratulations! You are in a healthy relationship. If you answered ‘sometimes’ or ‘rarely’ to 3 or more questions, you are susceptible to unhealthy communication patterns. I suggest taking measures to improve communication or boost the romance with your partner, such as taking classes through your church or finding a common interest in a couples social group. Reading books or doing research on the internet would also benefit. If you answered ‘never’ to 2 or more questions but did not answer ‘most of the time’ or ‘always’ to any question, I strongly suggest you should take the time to do some soul-searching and get a professional opinion. These questions are only a guideline to set you in the right direction. Only you know if your situation is the best environment for you. Many professionals offer free evaluations or feedback.

Judy Graybill
Stepfamily Coach
Sensible Steps, LLC
Solutions for Today's Families

Friday, November 26, 2010

One Thanksgiving in a Dysfunctional Stepfamily – A True Story

I hope everybody had an exceptional Thanksgiving Day, stayed safe, had enough to eat, and found plenty of things to be grateful for. Blessings to you! This blog entry is not targeted to you.

This blog is targeted to the folks who had trouble finding things to be thankful for or otherwise had a miserable Thanksgiving. We all want to be happy, particularly on holidays. We like to think of Thanksgiving Day as an opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones – close friends or family. We like to laugh, share stories and food, and maybe play games together. In fact, this is what I did yesterday. However, not all of my Thanksgiving Days have been good. As much as I’d like to believe it was isolated to only my family for 1 year, I know that isn’t the case. It is an unfortunate reality that many people spend the holidays alone, depressed, knee-deep in arguments, fielding inquiries from police, or some other unfortunate circumstance.

The following is a true story of my Thanksgiving Day several years ago. It is one illustration of one holiday in a highly dysfunctional stepfamily. I decided to share this personal story so that other people who have had a depressing holiday may be able to feel better about their day. Sometimes, hearing of others’ misfortune makes us feel better about ours; it reminds us that somebody somewhere is in a worse position. This story is for you.

It was the first Thanksgiving I was going to spend with my boyfriend’s family. His entire family was going to be there: his dad, stepmom, kids, granddaughter, brothers, sisters, nephews, and nieces. I was very nervous to say the least. I figured it was going to be awkward and was feeling leery. On the other hand, I was looking forward to finally getting a taste of deep-fried turkey. It was our job to bring the kosher foods tray. I spent a considerable time finding the tiered serving tray and arranging the variety of pickles and olives in a way to make it presentable for a high-class affair. I had no idea I was going to be the only one eating it as I spent the day alone.

His children, who were living with their mother, would meet us at his sister’s house, about 11:30 AM or so. Plans changed early in the day when his daughter called. She had a major argument with her mom, which got a little physical. I don’t recall specific details, but know she was in a very bad mood and hid the car keys. Her mom called the police. I believe the intention was to have her removed from the premises. My boyfriend went over to try and resolve matters. He took my cell phone, since he didn’t have one, to call his sister and tell her we’d all be late. He was supposed to call me with updates. He also took my car because his daughter and not-quite-ex (they weren’t legally divorced) was borrowing his. They didn’t have a car, so he and I shared mine. The new plan was to resolve the issue and come back to pick me up so we could all go to his sister’s together.

He did not take me with him for 2 main reasons. One: he didn’t like to involve me in their personal struggles; Two: I was not allowed inside their house, so I would’ve had to wait out in the cold in the car or driveway. I didn’t mind staying at home, though, because I wanted to spend a little longer making the food tray look presentable.

A long time passed before I got a call. He shared very little, but it was clear we wouldn’t make it to his sister’s before they started eating. I was still expecting to go whenever his daughter would give up the car keys or they finally found them. Hours passed without a word. I called my cell phone a few times, but nobody answered. I no longer had any clue of what was going on.

At first, I tried to hold out on eating, but was too hungry to restrain. Then I remembered that we hadn’t had time to go grocery shopping yet due to the crazy schedule that week. The only part of the tray I liked was the pickles. I thought about finding a restaurant that was open on Thanksgiving, but remembered I had no transportation. I thought of calling his family to come get me, but their phone numbers were stored in my cell phone. So let’s recap. I was home alone. I had no food other than pickles and olives, and I didn’t like olives. I had no transportation to drive anywhere. I couldn’t reach my ex and didn’t have his family’s phone numbers. I wouldn’t know what to tell them anyway, because he didn’t want to share this stuff with them either.

I wasn’t really looking forward to spending an awkward day amongst his family. Yet, I would’ve given anything to do that over being alone. This was my third Thanksgiving in this cold state, far from my immediate family, and the previous 2 were no picnic either. I missed my family tremendously. I would’ve given anything to be back home that day. Instead, I cried while thinking of home. I called my mom, sisters, and friends to vent and cry on a virtual shoulder. My Thanksgiving dinner turned out to be a bologna sandwich and a few pickles. It didn’t fill me up, but I didn’t have much of an appetite.

My ex finally came home after dark. Apparently his daughter had got physical with him too, which resulted in his face getting scratched. She said many hurtful things to him and everybody else. She never turned over the car keys. They never found them. He finally got tired of lecturing her or whatever he was doing for so many hours. He made it clear to her that she ruined many people’s Thanksgiving Day that year. I found out later that his sister had called my cell phone several times. She was going to offer to come pick me up, but she thought I was with him at their house dealing with all the issues.

This type of episode was not that unusual, but happening on a holiday was the worst timing. In a society which prefers touching inspirational stories that make people smile, this story is made of stuff we don’t like to talk about or acknowledge. As sad as this story is, I’m sure somebody else can top it with a worse story. To everybody who feels their Thanksgiving was better, I sincerely hope you can realize all the wonderful things in your life to be gracious for. If you still can’t find something, write me so I can help you find it.

Judy Graybill
Stepfamily Coach
Sensible Steps, LLC
Solutions for Today's Families