So you're successfully divorced, you've fallen in love again, but the problem is you're not
sure you'll like her kids. Let's talk about that today on Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint.
I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and
families live happier lives. I lead two organizations, the group Private Practice Teen Therapy
Center and the nonprofit 501c3 organization, Child and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland
Hills, California. And every Wednesday at noon, I jump into Facebook Live to answer your parenting
questions. Let's talk about today's. I'm a divorcee who started dating again fairly recently.
I have two kids, ages nine and 13. I started dating a woman last year who also has two kids around
the same age. It's been getting more serious, and I see a future where we could possibly blend
families. Because of COVID, I hadn't really spent too much time with our kids until now. I'm
starting to realize, though, that I'm not totally
comfortable with them. They're really what I would consider to be a little rude and disrespectful.
From what she's told me, I don't feel like they really respect other kids' boundaries either,
which makes me real nervous about bringing our kids together. What's the most positive way
to let my girlfriend know my feelings? And if I'm going to be those kids' stepdad someday, how
do I assert myself as a parent to them? I'm so glad you're asking this question, because you should
be asking this question now, not once you've already blended families. Great question. Here's
the first and foremost question you need to answer. What relationship is more important to
you? Which relationship is your priority? Is it your relationship with this woman, or is it
with your kids? You need to choose. Because if you don't choose, one will be selected for you.
And it's probably going to be, you know, the person in your life. And what I would argue, and of
course, you can make whatever choice you want, but I
would argue is this. Your kids are your dependents. They are relying on you to make healthy choices
for you and their family. Also, I want to caution you on, you don't have to move too fast in this
relationship. I get the feeling the relationship is not that old. It's been fairly new. You
don't have to just jump into moving in together or getting married. Take your time. Make sure
this is the right relationship for you and for your kids. Because with this relationship, what
are you talking about? You have you, you're still going to be other, her kids and your kids. That's
six people you have to navigate for. And obviously, she has to help navigate as well. But if you're
not considering what's right for your kids, it's not going to go well. You can't just shoehorn
your kids into this relationship, hoping that it all works out. Because I guarantee you, it
probably won't. If they're not ready for it, if their boundaries are being broken, if they can't
trust to be in that same house, they don't
have a safe place to be in the house, no one's going to be happy. And you especially will not be
happy. So what I would encourage you to do is talk to your girlfriend. Be very respectful, but
be very direct about what your concerns are and how it can affect your kids, how it can affect
her kids. If she can't handle this conversation, she's not going to be able to handle it six months
or a year from now when you guys move in together or when you guys get married. If you can't handle
this conversation now, it's not going to happen later on. So you need to have the conversation
now. And if it turns out that you guys can't figure this out, it may not be the right relationship.
Again, she may finish your sentences, she may feel like she's the perfect fit for you, but she
and her kids have to be a good fit for your kids as well. That may mean that you guys date, live in
separate houses, until like the last kids out of the house or the last kids in the house go on to
college. Maybe that's when
you guys come together as, you know, and because then your kids are out of the house, they're
in college, they don't need to blend as much together. Is it possible your kids and her kids could
blend together? It's possibly, but you want to take that slowly. You want to figure that out.
Again, I don't know how disrespectful or how strong these kids break boundaries or not. Is it
just they're a little rambunctious? Maybe that's not so bad. Is it that they are really disrespectful
and they have a hard time with empathy towards your kids and you don't want to put your kids in
that situation? You need to protect your kids. That's really important. I have so many families
I work with who did not ask this question before they got in this situation and now there's no
way out because they're already married. Until what happens is occasionally those two people
who got married again, divorce again. Because if your kids aren't getting along, it's going
to cause tension between you and your new spouse.
So take your time. You don't have to rush into anything. If she's pressuring you to rush into
something, let her know that you need to figure this out. And if it means bringing your kids together
occasionally to see how they fit together and it's not working, it's not working. Again, all
six people have to be on board. If one person's like, I don't like this, it's not going to just
magically go away. And again, that may put a wrench in your plans, but don't let perfection become
the enemy of good in this relationship. If this relationship is really good as dating, then
date. And I know you'd rather live together and share lives together, but you have two kids,
she's got two kids. And that really has to be paid attention to really strongly. Anyways, that's
our question for today. Thank you for sending your question in. If you'd like me to answer your
question, please email us at tipsonteens at teentherapycenter .com. We love your questions.
Again, my name is Kent Toussaint from Teen Therapy
Center and Child and Teen Counseling. And I will see you guys next Wednesday at noon on Facebook
Live, assuming I don't have jury duty, which is a possibility. I got to go in next week at some
point. Not sure when. So if you don't see me Wednesday, it's because I'm serving on a jury. So
wish me luck. Bye bye, guys.
Life In The Blender?
So, you’re thinking about becoming one of those “blended families.” You’re successfully divorced, but you’re not sure you like her kids! What do you do about it? Here’s a good question to answer right now: which relationship is your priority? Is it with your partner, or with your kids?
Your kids are relying on you to make healthy decisions for you and your family. With this in mind, are you sure it’s the right relationship for you and your kids? You can’t just shoehorn your kids into a blended family and expect everyone to be happy. Have the conversation now, and if your partner can’t handle it now, it might not be the right relationship. You might just have to date for a while and live separately until everyone is out of the house. Take it slow and watch this week’s Tips on Teens.
Here’s The Question:
Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. We love to hear from you!
Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE! Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.
So, therapy's not working for your teenager. Would medication help? Well, let's talk about
that today on Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist,
and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families live happier lives. I lead two organizations,
the group Private Practice Teen Therapy Center, and the nonprofit 501c3 organization, Child
and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. And every Wednesday at noon,
I jump onto Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions. Let's jump into today's. My 16
-year -old daughter has some issues. She's really unmotivated, on her phone all the time, and
sleeps a lot. For a while, I just thought she was a typical lazy teenager. But about a year ago,
my husband and I realized she might be suffering from depression. She doesn't seem to have one
particular thing that bothers her, so it's hard to tell. We tried therapy, but she wasn't into
it. And eventually, we stopped. What I'm wondering
is this. How do I tell if her problem is something that needs medication? Should I take her to
a psychiatrist? How do I get this diagnosed? Thank you for your question. It's a great question,
and I wanna touch many points on this. First is the medical standpoint. First of all, I wanna
remind everyone that I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and not a medical doctor.
So if you want to have a world -clear medical opinion whether your kid needs medication, you
probably need to talk to a psychiatrist, and I strongly recommend that psychiatrist is someone
who focuses on kids, teens, and families. You know, teenagers especially, because the adolescent
brain is different than an adult brain. So you can take your child to an adolescent psychiatrist,
and they can evaluate, and then prescribe accordingly. Now I know some of you are like, wait
a minute, I don't really wanna put my kid on psychotropic medication. That scares me. What about
the side effects? Those are legitimate questions,
and appropriate to ask your psychiatrist those questions. They should be able to alleviate
those fears with how they respond. And if they're not alleviating those fears, then you get
a second opinion, or you try something else. When I think about referring to a psychiatrist
is if therapy's really not working, if there are things like self -harm, suicidality, maybe
if it's extreme, where your kid is kinda losing touch with reality, and having delusions. Those
are just a few examples of many that you would wanna consider. But it's a tough decision. You
can also, if you wanna get diagnosed, really specifically diagnosed, you can go to a clinical
psychologist, or a neuropsychologist who focuses on teenagers, and have them go through a
battery of tests, which is they fill out surveys, answer questions, there's interviews. It
probably takes a couple weeks to go through all the tests, and then they come up with a full report.
And they say, this is our exact diagnosis of what we think it is from
what these test results are. You give that to the psychiatrist, and now that psychiatrist has
a lot more information to go on to prescribe. So, again, there's a lot of moving pieces here.
A lot of it costs money, unfortunately. Finding a child psychiatrist, or a child psychiatrist,
or a psychologist who's on an insurance panel is kind of a unicorn. I'm not saying they're not
out there, but they are hard to find, and hard to find with availability. There are people who
are in private practice, cash pay, who are doing this, but again, it does cost more money. You
can also try to go through your school system, and get the school to test. But again, it's a lot
of hoops to jump through, a lot of paperwork, and it's a lot of proving the need. If your child,
or your teenager, is not willing to do therapy, and I understand that, it could be that one therapist
was not a good fit. Again, finding a therapist who really understands teens, understands teenage
resistance to therapy, and knows how to
work through that, I think is important. If your child is in real danger, again, they're cutting,
they're using a lot of drugs, they're possibly suicidal, or something like that, you may want
to consider a residential program to put them into, which is basically, they're in for, three
weeks, six weeks, 90 days, whatever that is, to help get them on the right track, where they're
focused, they're away from drugs and alcohol, they're in group therapy every day, individual
therapy every day, kind of get them in a stable place, find the right medication, to help get
them stable. So there's a lot of different aspects to this. Again, I encourage you to look into
therapy, even if you get the medication, because medication is often there to help create a
more stable balance for your kids, so they can do the work, so eventually, with the guidance
of the psychiatrist, can eventually wean off that medication, hopefully, that would be the
goal. Again, there's a lot of moving factors, moving pieces
in this, it's important to get help, my concern is, if you don't do anything, it just continues
to get worse, and we don't want that, so again, reach out, get help, talk to your therapist, talk
to, get a psychiatrist referral from your pediatrician, or your therapist, if you want to get
testing, find a psychologist who can do that, but again, some of this stuff does cost money,
unfortunately, right now, almost every child psychologist, or psychiatrist I know, is booked
out for the next three months, there are some exceptions, but child psychiatry is booming right
now, there's a lot of people in need, especially with COVID, it's really knocked a lot of kids
down, anyways, that's our question for today, if you'd like your question answered here on
Tips on Teens, you can email us at tipsonteens, at teentherapycenter .com, or direct message
us right here on Facebook, we love your questions, keep them coming, I'll be here next Wednesday,
again, my name is Kent Toussaint, I'm a licensed marriage
family therapist, from Teen Therapy Center, and Child and Teen Counseling, and we'll see you
guys next week, thanks a lot, bye bye.