Two Become One - Combining Step Families for Thanksgiving

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Dr. Bonnie suggests a new approach: combining families for Thanksgiving, and encourages exes to work out an arrangement where everyone can be together on the holiday.

It's important that parents are able to be mature for their kids - focus on togetherness, not on any leftover emotions or sexual chemistry with the ex

When families split up, the holidays can be difficult to say the least, and the kids - who are perhaps the only innocent parties after a divorce - end up taking the brunt of the dysfunction. To remedy this, Dr. Bonnie suggests a new approach: combining families for Thanksgiving, and encourages exes to work out an arrangement where everyone can be together on the holiday. This could include new spouses and step-families but the important thing is that the kids involved in the split feel like they're part of a cohesive whole.

"It's important that parents are able to be mature for their kids - focus on togetherness, not on any leftover emotions or sexual chemistry with the ex," says Dr. Bonnie. This is an important step for families that have split up as the kids are less likely to feel torn and are essentially getting "permission" to love their step-parents if one or both parents have remarried since the divorce.

Additionally, it's important for parents to lead by example and model conflict resolution for their children. But parents and other family members must also be sensitive to the fact that blended family dynamics get even more complicated during the holidays. This is one reason why it's crucial for parents to provide one centric place for kids to process everything as opposed to shuttling them from house to house. “We have to teach our children that being part of a family unit is like being a shareholder in a company," says Dr. Bonnie. "Everyone has a vote, and a responsibility to be part of a successful team, and not bail when the going gets tough. Teaching this concept starts with the parents.

Dr. Bonnie suggests parents employ the following guidelines, and adhere to these rules especially during the holidays.

Use Smart Heart Dialogue Skills a technique (found in Dr. Bonnie’s book Make Up Don’t Break Up with accompanying DVD Falling in Love and Staying In Love) that ensures a safe, communicative place for each person to voice their true feelings.

Always fight fair (no blaming, shaming, or judging)

Have weekly talks including all family members to voice grievances and solve problems
Reward members for getting along

By putting these tactics into operation during the holidays, kids can learn that conflict is a time for learning, growing and resolution - not a time to split up the family and bail.

Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil, PhD, author of the 2010 New York Times Reader’s Choice Award winning book Make Up Don’t Break Up with accompanying DVD Falling in Love and Staying In Love. Dr. Bonnie counsels couples considering breaking up, people who have committed adultery, and couples who want to strengthen their relationships damaged by resentment or unresolved anger, teaching people to “fight” to increase passion, bring back magic and restore the sizzle. Dr. Bonnie teaches Smart Heart Dialogue along with communication and connection tools, and counsel’s families and children.

Known as “The Adultery Buster” and the “No. 1 Love Expert,” she is the best-selling author of Adultery: The Forgivable Sin (adapted into a Lifetime movie starring actress Kate Jackson) Coming Nov 2011 as eBook, Make Up Don't Break Up, Finding and Keeping Love for Singles and Couples (Revised edition Feb 2010, including DVD How to Fall in Love and Stay in Love for Singles and Couples), Can We Cure and Forgive Adultery?, How Not to (S)mother Your Man and Keep a Woman Happy, and Financial Infidelity.

Dr. Bonnie has appeared on a Discovery Health documentary titled "Unfaithful" and A&E on addictions. ABC’s Good Morning America, a three-day series on NBC’s The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show five times, a four day series on Fox TV regarding dating. She appears frequently on ABC, Fox, CBS and NBC News, The View, 20/20, and CNN. Visit Dr. Bonnie at http://www.DoctorBonnie.com.

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