How Toxic Families Affect the People We Become

How Toxic Families Affect the People We Become

What are the effects of codependency in childhood and of narcissistic parents (with NPD or even just narcissistic tendencies)? Many children of narcissists spend their whole lives thinking "I wasn't good enough," and wondering if their mothers/fathers/other caregivers could and would always be better than they.

The faces of parental narcissism have a number of effects on the children - and as they become adult children of narcissists (ACON), their personalities are formed around this sort of misunderstanding of themselves as seen through the eyes of the narcissistic parent.

If you have (or know) a child who has a narcissistic parent or grandparent, you may be asking yourself how you can help them cope and what you can do to avoid the negative effects of being the child of a narcissist.

Whether you're dealing with a covert narcissist mother or an "out there" narcissist father or grandparent, you are or were dealing with gaslighting and manipulation, to say the very least. In this video, I'll explain the effects on the children in various stages and also how you can help them combat it.

Co-Parenting With a Narcissist: Identifying and Managing Effects on the Kids

Co-Parenting With a Narcissist: Identifying and Managing Effects on the Kids

So, you're co-parenting with a narcissist. First things first, you're not alone - and there is even free help available for you. According to the DSM IV-TR, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is diagnosed in between 2% and 16% of the population in clinical settings (between 0.5-1% of the general population). And most narcissists (50-75% of all patients) are men.coparenting with a narcissist how to help the kids

But what about the kids? If you're you're dealing with a narcissist co-parent, are you worried about how it'll affect your children?

The Statistics on Child Abuse in the United States

Statistically speaking, nearly one million children are victims to child abuse each year in the United States. Plus:

57.2% of victims suffered neglect (including but not limited to emotional, mental and medical neglect),

18.6% experienced physical abuse

9.6% experienced sexual abuse

26.6% experienced other types of abuse, such as emotional, verbal and mental abuse.

Stress is a Killer - Even for Kids

 

Studies indicate that as many as 20% of all school aged children experience symptoms of anxiety - and you can bet that a good portion of those are the kids who are being abused at home. Stress is in another category, and it's estimated at 100% of our children who experience stress in some form or another throughout their school years.

Stress can weaken a child's immune system and cause illnesses - just as it can in adults. It's important for children to get enough sleep and eat well so that the immune system stays strong - and even though stress is inevitable, they can cope with it physically.

One essential part of teaching your children how to deal with stress and anxiety is setting an example for the child.

So, if you come in from a hard day's work and immediately reach for a drink to "relax," the kids will learn that it's okay to dull the pain rather than face it head on.

A cocktail in the evening is fine, but don't use it as a crutch with your own anxiety problems. When your child sees you dealing with stress by relaxation and other techniques, he'll learn a big lesson in coping.

How to Help Your Child Cope With the Stress of a Narcissistic Parent

Recognizing the symptoms of stress and anxiety in children is the first step in helping them. They're not completely different from the symptoms when adults experience stress.

Depression and panic attacks can ensue from too much stress in adults and children, so it's important to recognize the early signs of a much more serious problem.

What Are the Symptoms of Stress and Anxiety in Children?

Most adults have experienced stress in the form of a rapidly beating heart, breaking out in a cold sweat and taking shallow breaths. While we may know and understand what's happening, kids sometimes don't - and they may hide the symptoms or not know how to verbalize the suffering.

Symptoms of stress may remain unnoticed because your child lacks the vocabulary or doesn't understand enough about what's happening to him to talk to you about it.

It's vitally important that you maintain a strong and open line of communication with him so that he can learn how to communicate his feelings and get help.

Here are some symptoms of stress you may notice in your child:

  • Physical Symptoms of Stress in Children - Physical symptoms could appear in your child as headaches, stomach aches, a loss of appetite or other changes in how he eats, wetting the bed and lack of sleep. After making sure there's no illness causing the problem, you can assume that there's something stressful going on in the child's life. The stress could morph into panic attacks, which would include more exacerbated stress symptoms.
  • Behavioral Symptoms of Stress in Children - Your child's behavior is a good way to gauge if he's going through stress and anxiety. Acting out in an aggressive manner might be one way a child deals with stress. Stubbornness, crying, anger and attempting to control situations he's in are also behavioral problems that might be accurately identified as stress symptoms in a child.
  • Irrational Fears - One really common red flag that may identify stress in children is that they're expressing irrational fears. For example, a typical fire drill in school could cause the child to become panicked, crying and expressing fear about a real fire, even though they know it's a drill.
  • Extreme Sadness - If your child seems excessively sad about a situation or worries constantly about the "what ifs" in life, he may be experiencing stress and anxiety in his life. A pet or close family member's death may trigger sadness symptoms that last a long time and it may be difficult for the child to overcome.

These symptoms or any changes in the physical or behavioral makeup of your child should be considered red flags that he may be suffering stress and anxiety in his life. Monitor your child closely to make sure they don't become so out of control that they harm the child's mental and physical health.

Types of Anxiety in Children

As children grow from babies to toddlers to young children and teens, they may experience various types of anxiety that could have an impact on the rest of their lives if they don't learn how to cope with stress they encounter. Of course, there are many children who, like their adult counterparts, end up with PTSD or C-PTSD. But that's not all - others end up with definable stress and anxiety disorders. 

Some types of stress and anxiety disorders sometimes found in children after narcissistic abuse by a parent include the following:

  • GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) - Children diagnosed with GAD often worry all the time about anything and everything. Their brains just create anxiety out of the most ordinary things such as an impending test, grades or friends. 
    • The probable causes of GAD could include environmental factors such as family dynamics or even a chemical imbalance in the brain. Symptoms may include anger, lack of sleep, irritability and unwarranted worry.
  • Panic Disorder - Recurring panic attacks can affect your child both mentally and physically. Panic attacks are often uncontrollable and symptoms may include rapid heart rate, nausea and trouble breathing. 
    • Panic attacks in children are also unpredictable and may stem from the child thinking too much about such dire situations as illness, dying and other situations that he can't control.
    • The child also might develop a fear of heights, being left alone and other thoughts that a child doesn't usually worry about.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - Children experiencing this stress disorder are often irrational about the most common daily tasks. They may be obsessed about washing their hands and imagine all types of consequences if they're not clean enough.
    • Repetitive actions are also the norm for children with OCD. A child with OCD might begin counting obsessively or checking on something over and over again and think that something bad might happen to him if he doesn't.
    • It's important to recognize OCD early in a child or they may get caught in a cycle that will be difficult to recover from. The child has no control over his irrational actions and may not be able to suppress them.
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD) - Separation anxiety can often be a normal reaction when children go through a certain stage from 6 months to 18 months old.
    • SAD occurs when children see or sense that their parents are leaving when dropped off at day care or somewhere else. Usually, the problem subsides as they get further into the routines of school.
    • This type of anxiety becomes a disorder when the child begins to worry that something horrible is going to happen to them if their parents leave. They might cry and cling to the parent, have trouble sleeping and refuse to eat.
    • Children usually outgrow this disorder by the time they're two years old. If they don't outgrow it, it could become a real disorder and you may need to seek treatment.
  • Stress Phobias - A child who perceives danger or fear in normal situations may have a phobia. This may occur when a child has to fly in an airplane, sees or comes close to a dog or bug or has to get a vaccination at the doctor's office - and while a certain amount of stress phobias are normal in young children, when it becomes life-altering or excessive, you need to do something to help.

Dealing with Irrational Fears and Phobias in Children

The situations that children often fear might seem ridiculous to us. But even though something may be trivial, to a child it could be monumental. If a child restricts their play and other activities and becomes withdrawn, the phobia needs to be addressed immediately.

Some children's phobias may be solved by taking some quality time to spend with him to show him that what he thought was so scary, really isn't. It may be necessary to get help from a therapist to solve some issues.

Anxiety in children can become a serious problem if you don't recognize and cope with it early. Each child may have a different reaction to anxiety, just like in adults - and you may not always recognize it for what it is.

Tip: Attempt to get your child to verbalize his or her feelings so you can better figure out how to help him. You may need to see a therapist if the anxiety continues or if it gets out of control and your child loses the ability to go to school and function in activities that children usually enjoy.

Of all the types of anxiety in children, a panic attack is usually the one that reveals itself in a physical manner. You should be able to recognize when your child is having a panic attack so that you can take steps to calm him down and help him cope with the situation.

Early intervention is necessary to successfully help your child with certain anxiety disorders. If you need to seek treatment from a specialist, you should know that there are highly effective ones available.

How to Recognize a Panic Attack in Your Child

  • Panic attacks stem from stress that's escalated into visible panic symptoms. In children, as in adults, a panic attack can be sudden and unexplained fear and worry.
  • Physically, you could experience a shortness of breath, feel a rapid heart rate and have actual pain in the chest area. The child may also be dizzy, sweating profusely and have trouble telling you what's wrong.
  • The causes of panic attacks could be difficult to pinpoint and might be genetic in nature. They could begin and get worse because of a traumatic experience or stressful event such as a divorce.
  • Marked changes in a child's behavior because of the panic attacks may also be symptoms that you can recognize and do something about. If a child has a panic attack and then becomes withdrawn socially, he may be afraid of having another attack in public - around his friends.
  • Treatment for panic disorder in children may involve behavioral and cognitive therapy, certain medications or a combination of the two. It's important that you make sure your child has a healthy lifestyle if he's plagued with panic attacks.
  • A healthy diet, plenty of sleep and a good amount of exercise can go a long way in helping the child manage and eventually get rid of the possibility of a panic attack. Let the child knows he has support and can come to you with any problem he might perceive. No worry is too small to talk about.
  • Another thing you can do for your child to help minimize a panic disorder is to make sure there's plenty of time in the schedule to relax. Don't fill your child's calendar with too much, and make sure you talk to him about whether or not he wants to participate in certain sports or activities.

How to Help Your Child Cope with the Reality of Stress

We'd all love to shield our children from ever having a moment's stress in their entire lives, but the fact is that they're going to be faced with some sort of stress almost every day - and sadly, this is especially true for children who have a narcissistic parent.

The key is to teach them how to cope with the reality of stress, face their fears and stand up for what's right.

Children will eventually learn that stress and anxiety runs its own course in time and that finding ways to relax and get their minds off the situation will go a long way in helping them gain control of the situation.

You have to encourage your child to work past the stress and anxiety they may feel and to avoid getting trapped in feelings of inferiority.

  • Accentuate the positive. Your child may be lost in negative thoughts and criticism about his or her looks, performance in sports or academic pursuits or social aspects of their lives.
  • When you notice your child drowning in negativity, try to boost his self-esteem by reminding him of his great attributes and how he can turn a situation into a positive experience.
  • Set an example. If you're anxious and stressed, your child will be too. Show your child how you can face fears and overcome them or accept the outcome and go on. Taking care of yourself is also an important part of life that you need to show your children.
  • Stand up to fear. Fear can be a horrifying experience - but once you face your fears, they gradually shrink and aren't as scary as they were before you knew the facts. Fear of giving a speech in class, performing in sports, going on a date or entering a class full of kids you don't know can be an overwhelmingly stressful experience for a child.
  • Encourage him and teach him about how to face and overcome fearful situations. Communication with your child is imperative to conquer stress and anxiety. Help is available online in the form of "feelings" charts and other ways to help you recognize your child's body language and what he's trying to express in his actions.

Since narcissists are notoriously selfish and typically unreliable, you have to the dependable one - so try to be consistent, but flexible in your attempt to help your kid overcome the stress and anxiety he or she may be experiencing as you deal with your narcissistic co-parent.

Are you co-parenting with a narcissist? Have you seen symptoms of stress and anxiety in your children? How have you dealt with it? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.

The Divorced Mom’s Guide to Dating Again After Narcissistic Abuse

The Divorced Mom’s Guide to Dating Again After Narcissistic Abuse

"Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it." ~Oprah WinfreyDivorced Mom Guide to Dating After Narcissistic Abuse

In any situation, when you get a divorce or move on to a new relationship and you have kids, it makes dating a completely different experience. No longer are you just trying to find someone who’s right for you – you’re trying to find someone who’s right for your kids. 

And when your ex is a narcissist, it's a whole other ball of wax. 

Even so, there are some common truths for all moms who are dating again after divorce.

The fact is that you might find yourself looking for a "new dad" or someone to fill the void left in your life by your ex - but don't fall into that trap! You might end up scaring away Mr. Right - because unlike most narcissists, Mr. Right is willing to take things slowly - and that's what you should want to do as well - after all, you definitely don't want to attract another narc, right? 

Read more: Top 17 Early Warning Signs You're Dating a Narcissist

So, before we continue - a bit of harsh truth for you.

Being a Mom doesn’t mean you have to be looking for a forever commitment – even though most women do seek out that stability for their children in these circumstances.

You don’t have to latch onto the first man who is willing to date a woman with children – you can take your time finding Mr. Right and vetting the prospects to see who would be the best fit for your family.

When I was a single mom, I'd ask myself "Is this guy someone I'd want my son to grow up and be like?" It is an incredible way to really get a good read on a guy, if you can be honest with yourself.

You never want to settle for someone who is right for you, but not your kids – or right for your kids, but not right for you. He needs to be the total package. That means you prioritize things a bit differently sometimes.

How Soon Should You Start Dating When You Have Kids?

This is going to be a different answer for every woman. Only you know your kids and your situation. But there are some guidelines you can use to figure out when the time is right.

Is your ex-narcissist influencing your kids against you? If there’s chaos in the post-divorce stage (and it's likely when you've been involved with a narcissist), then he might disparage you and make the kids think less of you because you’re dating again.

This kind of thing happens frequently. You don’t have to wait forever, but it might be best to either postpone dating until the raw feelings fade away, or make sure that your kids are okay with it before you go there.

Some kids will be loyal and fierce to your ex no matter what – and no amount of time is going to make them okay with you dating again. You might have to get family counseling so that an unbiased third party can help them see that you’re an individual now, not a couple, and that you should be allowed to enjoy life, too.

When your kids are too small to understand, then you can begin dating as soon as you see fit. The older they get, the more resentment they may feel – but that all depends on the relationship they have with you and their father.

Many kids embrace the idea of their parents getting out on the dating scene because they like to see their parents happy. This is perfect – but don’t force yourself into it if you’re not ready.

What Type of Man Would Be Right for Your Family?

Like I mentioned, when you’re looking for a man who is right for you, you have to always be thinking in the back of your mind, “Is he right for my kids?” You might have your own criteria, but here are some things to consider.

Is he willing to take things slow? Some men will want to come right over and spend the night – practically moving in on week one - and be careful, because that's a sign of love-bombing. You want a man who will respect your boundaries on when he should meet your kids, spend time at your home, and anything further than that.

Video: How to Tell the Difference Between Love Bombing and Healthy Romantic Interest

Does he respect the role of their biological dad? Regardless of his flaws, the kids will already have a father – and you might have problems if he assumes that the two of you dating means he’ll be taking his place. 

In some instances, the kids won’t have a father in their lives – and that means this new guy might be seen as a father figure. Is he okay with that position? Some men might feel uncomfortable.

What kind of parental role do you want him to have? Should he be like the fun uncle who comes over to play and act silly or eat dinner once in awhile, or will he be stepping up to the plate to be “Dad” pretty soon?

These are things that you need to be open about and honest with yourself about - even though your heart (and other tingly bits) may not go along with at first - but you and I both know this MATTERS - you don't want to fall into old traps and old habits. You need to make it clear to your new potential love how involved you want/expect him to be with your kids if at all. 

Personally, I had a rule that no guy got to meet my son unless we were able to date consistently and monogamously for 3 to 6 months. Yes, it made life a bit more complicated, but it protected him from a lot of heartache in the end. This way, he didn't develop attachments to people I dated who weren't right for me. 

Can/will he discipline the kids, and if so, how? Some families have it written into the parenting plan during a divorce that other people can’t punish the kids at all, or that no corporal punishment should be allowed.

Is he good to your kids? You want someone who is protective over them and wants everything in their best interest – even if he’s not leading the family as a father figure at all.

You want your kids to be excited about him coming over, not resent it or head off to their rooms when he arrives. This is where a sense of humor (which is different from biting sarcasm) comes in handy. It’s great to find a guy who will play ball with the kids, engage them with a video game, or just chat with them about their day.

Does he have kids of his own? This brings another layer to the relationship if you decide to date this man. The Brady Bunch makes it all look easy, but mixing families can be difficult.

If he does have kids, be sure you each meet each other’s kids and get to know them before you start introducing the kids to one another - this will help to take the edge off a bit. Take it slow and make sure each child feels adequately loved and important during this transition.

Uncomfortable but Necessary Warning: It’s a simple fact of life and you need to be aware of it so that you can protect our family. There are some dangerous men out there who seek out single Moms to date because in reality, they’re pedophiles.

These men will date you and even marry you – and you might have a thriving sexual relationship – but they’re doing all of it to gain your trust so that they can abuse your children. Educate yourself about this before you start dating because it’s a real issue with serious consequences.

First Date for You Versus First Meeting With the Kids

There are two different situations here. The first time you meet a man and the first time your kids do. Your first date should come quite a bit of time before your kids are introduced to him. For me, the 3 to 6-month rule worked, but that might be different for you - don't get stuck on numbers. 

For your own first date, keep yourself safe. You should do this anyway as a single woman, but as a Mom, you have a responsibility to your kids now, too. Don’t have anyone pick you up at your home.

Meet him somewhere else instead. If possible, take a friend along (have him bring one, too) and make it a double date. If not, that’s okay – just meet somewhere visible with other people around.

You want a place where good conversation can take root. Meals are great! You can talk while eating – and if you want to have a quick date, try doing brunch or lunch instead of dinner.

Sporting events are another great idea. You can really get to know each other if you’re sitting at a baseball game for your local team (if both of you enjoy it and are fans).

When should you introduce your kids to your new man?

When you have kids, it becomes difficult to decide when to introduce them. On one hand, you don’t want to go through man after man after man with your kids. They need stability and it doesn’t make them comfortable to see their Mom dating dozens of different men - and that was part of my reason for the 3-6 month rule. 

On the other hand, you don’t want to get too serious with one man before introducing him to your children because you have to see how it works with your children first.

So sometime between “just met him” and “I’m ready to be exclusive with this person,” you should introduce him to your family. Start off by letting them get used to the idea.

You can initiate conversations about your new guy first. Don’t just spring him on them out of the blue one day. Mention him in passing as a friend who you’re having dinner with, etc.

Don’t bring him to your house to meet your kids – and don’t take them to his. Have all of you meet at a public, fun destination like the park where your kids can play and he can interact with them.

You might want to clue your new date in on some things your kids do and don’t like before he meets with them. For example, if they hate someone teasing them or can’t stand it when someone throws them in the pool, give him a heads up so that he doesn’t become public enemy #1 without warning.

How to Help Your Kids Cope With Your New Dating Life After Divorcing a Narcissist

Sometimes, no matter what you do to try to alleviate the strain of your new dating life, your kids will have a problem with it anyway. Sometimes their feelings are justified and you can help them by acknowledging that, so don’t dismiss it just because of their age.

Let’s look at some common complaints kids have when their parents start dating and how you can address each one:

"You don’t spend time with me anymore."

If dating starts to consume you, then it can get things started off on the wrong foot. It’s understandable that you want to spend lots of time with your new guy, but remember that your kids view him as an invader – and they’re going to dislike him if he is favored over them.

Make sure that you take each child and spend some one-on-one time with them throughout the day. Don’t text or take phone calls during this time – focus all of your attention on their needs.

It’s great if your kids can see you recognize a call from your new guy and say something like, “Oh that’s Bob – I’ll call him back later – right now, I’m playing with you!”

Though I got remarried 15 years ago, I still try to make at least an hour a day to spend with each of my kids (we've added two to the fold in that time) - the mornings are great for that in my case. 

"He's just not right for you, Mom!"

Sometimes we’re so desperate to get into another relationship that we forget about our list of deal breakers. We fall into old patterns. Our kids may be able to see it – the way you become “different” around this new guy versus when you’re by yourself.

If they have concerns, make sure you give them the freedom to speak up and talk to you about it. If they say he puts you down, for instance – ask for examples and keep an open mind. Don’t excuse his behavior – address it with him.

"He doesn't like us (or we don't like him)!"

Some men may be right for you, but when it comes to your kids, he just doesn’t have the right mindset. Maybe he’s always grumpy or he comes off as “weird” to your kids.

You want your kids to enjoy the time they’re spending around him, so work with both your kids and your new man to see if things can get smoothed over to a better place. If not, then you may need to let him move on to someone else.

"We already have a dad and we are fiercely loyal to him!"

This is a normal reaction for kids to have, even if Dad is also a narcissist. If you’re on good terms with your ex, have him sit down with you and the kids and have a discussion about how it’s a positive thing that the two of you are dating new people. 

Chances are that most narcs aren't going to be okay with it, especially if they're not already moving on (and in some cases, even if they are - narcissists aren't known for their ability to empathize or for fairness/equality - they'd have no problem being with a new woman and still not being okay with you being with a new guy, especially if they perceive him as somehow superior to them). 

But, in the rare case that he can or will work with you, remember that if they see that Dad’s okay with the new guy, they might be more open to accepting him, too. Invite both of them to something like your child’s birthday party and let your child see them shaking hands and being friendly to each other.

Tip: You can sometimes convince a narc to do what you want by convincing him that first, he's the most amazing dad you know - and "how wonderful that he's so secure in himself that he's willing to be so selfless with his kids that he can at least pretend to like the new guy."

When the Narc Won't Budge

If the ex is part of the problem, then you might need to have an honest discussion with your child about the situation. Don’t disparage their dad. Instead, explain to them how you just weren’t right for each other and that the new guy has nothing to do with the fact that you’re no longer a couple.

He may have believed that if the new guy wasn’t in the picture, then you and your child’s father might get back together. Explain to him that this isn’t a possibility even if you stay single forever so that he doesn’t sit there “wishful thinking” anymore - it will help you BOTH, even if the initial discussion is a little uncomfortable. 

Finding Balance Between Your Dating and Parenting Lives

Parenting will always be your most important task in life. But you also need to take care of your own needs – and that includes forming meaningful relationships.

Put your needs and those of your children first. Then try to accommodate the new person you’re dating, because it will be difficult for him, too to come into an existing family and try to fit in while being judged. Dating with kids doesn’t have to be a struggle, even if you've been in a toxic or abusive relationship in the past. Just be mindful of everyone’s feelings and do the best you can!

You feel me? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments, below. 

Holiday How-To: 5 Ways to Keep Your Family Traditions Alive

Holiday How-To: 5 Ways to Keep Your Family Traditions Alive

"Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world." ~Susan LiebermanHow to Keep Your Family Traditions Alive

Family traditions can give comfort and build stronger relationships. Whether you're just building your own traditions or you're sticking with the ones your family has been following for generations, it's important to preserve them, so they don't fade over time.

So what can you do to preserve the traditions your family enjoys? 

Try these strategies to sustain your family traditions.

1. What are your traditions, anyway? Recognize and define your family traditions. The first step to keeping them alive is to find them.

Each family has a unique set of traditions. Ask yourself these questions if you're having trouble defining yours. 

  • What were the traditions you noticed as you grew up?
  • What were the traditions you heard your grandparents and parents discuss?
  • How did you handle holidays, special occasions, and other events?

Tip: Traditions can come in many forms and vary greatly from family to family. They can include favorite meals, different ways to celebrate the holidays, special gifts for unusual events, or vacations to the same spot.

2. Carve it in stone! Write it down. Make a list of your family traditions. To help keep the traditions going, you can make a written record that can be passed down from generation to generation.

  • Family traditions can fade and change over time. They can be completely forgotten after the death of a loved one. They can also be replaced with new ideas that matter to the family.
  • You may want to gather the thoughts and memories of grandparents, parents, cousins, and others to fill out the list.

3. Consider the future generations! Create a guidebook to your family celebrations. Don't be afraid to use visual media to your advantage. Your list doesn't have to be limited to words. Photos and videos add a visual element that helps keep the traditions alive. They can help family members understand important events that contribute to the traditions.

Tip: The various types of media can be a growing project with new additions each year. You can ask other family members to share their photos and videos that add interest and memories to your traditions. Consider a website that an be printed yearly into a family almanac!

4. Hang loose! Stay flexible. It's important to keep traditions flexible enough to work with your lifestyle. It's fine to change traditions over time to make them realistic.

* You may admire your grandmother's tradition of cooking an eight course meal from scratch every Thanksgiving without help. However, you don't necessarily have to follow the exact procedure. Traditions should enhance the family's experience. Don't feel guilty about letting others help.

* The ideal family traditions will help your family members bond and make cherished memories together. They aren't meant to feel like challenges or annoyances.

5. Build your own traditions to add to the list. Consider creating new traditions. Saving old traditions is only one part of the process. You can build new ones, too, as your family grows and changes. The old traditions can be adjusted or set aside as needed.

Tip: If you would like to create a new tradition, experts recommend starting slowly and asking other family members to get involved. Try out your ideas together. If the plan adds to your family's enjoyment and succeeds in bringing your family members closer together, you might just have a wonderful new tradition!

Family traditions can help build stronger connections among family members and help keep the family together, even during difficult times. You can enjoy these traditions and preserve them for future generations by following simple steps. Your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will thank you for keeping these traditions alive.

Your Turn! Tell me in the comments about your family traditions! What are your favorites? Which ones would you like to add? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Looking to make new family traditions? We've got ideas! Be sure to check out our holiday posts from our Pinterest Queen!

Hot Wife Guide: Celebs Offer Relationship Advice for Working Moms

Hot Wife Guide: Celebs Offer Relationship Advice for Working Moms

"When Valentina was not even 1 month old, my aunt [gave me the best advice]: 'Put her to sleep yourself every night. Sing to her and cradle her in your arms and sit by her side — every night. Because one day you won't be able to, and it's going to happen really fast." ~Selma Hayek 

Salma_Hayek_Cannes_2015_2It's not easy to balance a successful career and family life. But I've got great news for you!

Working moms are usually pretty happy to share their relationship maintenance secrets - even celebrity ones, such as Selma Hayek, pictured left. 

How about that? Can you dig it?

 

Are you a hot wife? Do you wanna be? Learn exactly how to do it, right here. 

Hot Relationship Advice From Hot Celebs

Fox sports reporter Erin Andrews offers the following advice for keeping your marriage hot - and it comes from her own parents.

"...because they're happily married for a long time: Just listen. Listen to him," Andrews says. "I'm so independent and driven and stubborn. Just let him talk. It's about not being so stubborn and having to win every argument. My parents set a great example. They love each other and take care of each other so much."

"It's kind of cheesy, but my mama, who you all have seen on the show, says to cook for your man," says singer Jessie Lewis. "She's Southern, so when he comes home, be pullin' a pie out of the oven. That's always been her advice, and you know what? It works. Your man wants to see you in the kitchen, puttin' some love into some food; it works for Eric, that's for sure."

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Alyson Hannigan's advice is simple: "Don't ever spend more than three weeks apart," the How I Met Your Mother alum says. "Two and a half weeks, maybe three, was the longest we ever did."

Queen Bee QT: How to Keep Your Relationship HOT and Be a Mom at the Same Time

Maintain your romantic and family relationships and your job with these tips from the Queen Bee moms. 

1. Find a reliable planner. What do you use to plan your schedule in advance? A reliable planner is an important part of trying to balance work and family.

  • A planner will help you schedule your work and family time to avoid missing an important event for either one.
  • Use the planner to schedule relationship time, too. Date nights and fun activities with the children are popular options.

2. Cook ahead. Planning and cooking your meals ahead of time will give you the chance to focus on your relationships. Cook multiple meals in advance and stock the freezer.

  • If you have a freezer filled with meals that are ready to be heated, then you can spend more time enjoying your family. Instead of worrying about what they will have for dinner, you can have a meal plan in place for an entire month.

3. Set guidelines at work. Does your career make it difficult to see your family every night? Working mothers can set guidelines at work, so their lives are more balanced.

  • Does work prevent you from seeing your partner and enjoying dinner together? If you can establish overtime rules, then you can try to find a balance between long hours and your relationship.
  • Let your boss know about important family events ahead of time, so your work is aware that family is a priority.

4. Pick up tips from other working mothers. Your friends and coworkers can share valuable advice with you about work and relationships. You shouldn't be afraid to start a conversation about maintaining your relationship.

5. Find a reliable friend. It's not easy to balance work and family at the same time, but a reliable friend can help you during difficult situations.

  • Who can you turn to for help balancing your career and relationship? Do you have a trustworthy friend who can support you? Instead of trying to control every aspect of life, you can delegate certain activities to a friend.
  • Strong friendships are built on mutual trust and assistance, so be prepared to step in if a friend needs you.
  • Did your babysitter cancel on your date night? This is a good opportunity to turn to friends who can help you maintain your relationship. Your child can have a sleepover at their house while you have date night.

6. Spend five minutes a day alone with your partner. Working mothers rarely have any alone time with their partners. However, just five minutes a day can make a big impact on relationship maintenance. It's important that you be completely alone with your partner for at least a few minutes a day.

  • You can set aside five minutes in the morning or evening to spend with your partner. Children, friends, and other family members shouldn't be in the room with you. In addition, put away tech gadgets that distract you.
  • You can set a timer for five minutes and talk or cuddle. The goal is to focus on each other.

Relationships need to be nurtured so they thrive. If you're a working mother, take advantage of these tips to help you find a balance between your job, sweetheart, and kids.