Read these 47 Home Life Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Relationship tips and hundreds of other topics.
One of the key underlying problems in many mother-daughter relationships is that the mother sees the daughter as a "little her" - as someone who she can help avoid certain mistakes, and who can do what she never was able to do.
Try to separate your own feelings from that of your child. Your child is an individual, and may not want to do the things you wanted to do at her age. Sure, she may make the same mistakes, but just as you learned from them, so shall she.
You need to let your daughter grow and live and learn at her own pace, in her own style. Appreciate her for what she is, and don't try to make her into what you could have been.
Older children are often required to make many sacrifices when a new baby comes into the house - the attention given them is far less, the new baby is the focus of visitors interest, they must play quietly at nap time, they must share toys, and so on. This is a huge change for any child, and should be seen as such.
Make sure that visitors think to praise both children - instead of constantly talking about how cute the baby is, for example, they might say how much the baby resembles the older sibling.
Let the older sibling have his own space, and if the baby is always in his area, try to find ways to keep the baby otherwise entertained. Each child deserves his own privacy and time, just as adults do.
Although you don't choose family members, and sometimes you don't get along, these people are the only people on Earth that know who you REALLY are and still love you anyway. This honest kind of love is the most real, lasting, and valuable.
Remember that the next time you get in a fight and are about to say harsh things to each other. Stop and ask yourself how much saying what you are about to say will hurt the other person. How will it damage your relationship? Is it really worth saying?
Also, always remember important dates, such as birthdays, holidays, and your parents' anniversary. Celebrating these days will help you to renew the bond between you and your family members and keep it strong.
Friends come and go, but if you treat them well, your family will be there always.
It's tempting for parents to always jump in to an argument, but this can often reinforce the very fears that began the argument, and deprives the children of working the issue out for themselves.
Often parents will 'protect the weaker', reinforcing the stronger child's view that the weaker child is loved more, and giving the weaker child the thought that they can get away with more because they will be rescued. This also prevents the weaker child from building up his own defenses and becoming stronger.
As long as the kids aren't hurting each other, and are really bothered with what the other has done (and not about some more general situation that is going on), then let the argument run its course. If they are flaring up because of something larger (moving to a new house, for example), sit down and talk with them about the stress, and find ways to make the situation more manageable.
One night each week, turn off the TV and computer, and hang out in the living room or dining room with a fun game. Let someone different choose each week's game, and have soda, popcorn, and other snacks around. The game-chooser might get to choose the music too, or you can make those separate items. It'll get the family talking, and exercise your minds.
Older people usually have interests that they have set aside because they did not have the time or ability to pursue them. Help them rekindle those interests, taking them to shows, buying them equipment, or helping them enroll in classes. By sharing in their interests, you help validate that they still can learn and grow, and be interesting to others.
When kids think back on their childhoods, it's often not the big things that stand out. It's the little things, like waiting for the tooth fairy, or having you in the stands during his last game. Be there during the small events in his life - they may end up being his strongest memories.
You may subconsciously be helping sibling rivalry if you ever say things like, "How come you don't wake up on time? Your brother never has trouble with that." Do not compare the children with each other - each one is a unique individual, with his own strengths and weaknesses. If you compare them, then the children will strengthen their own comparisons, and dislike whatever seems to be unfair in those comparisons. Praise a child based on his own activities and actions - not how he compares with a sibling.
Many parents try to do everything together with their children - take them to the zoo, visit a science museum, read a book on the bed with everyone gathered around. While this family-building is important, it is also *very* important for parents to let a child know they respect and love that child for the individual that he or she is.
Make time to take one child somewhere special. If the child loves dinosaurs, take him or her to a dinosaur museum. If the child loves ballet, go see the Nutcracker. If each child feels loved and appreciated as an individual, then jealous feelings about "why did SHE get to do that?" will be minimized greatly. Each child will see that they are important, in their own way.
You can't turn a person from a child into an adult, giving them no trust until 18 (or 21) and then giving them total trust to live on their own. Use the teenage years as a 'guiding' period, helping your young adult take more responsibility and giving the opportunity to earn trust. When there are setbacks, as there almost always are in any learning experience, start again and work again. The end goal is well worth the effort.
There is often a tendency with step-households to try to equalize rules completely between the two families. This can often be impossible - the parents are very different individuals, and even the same rules can be interpreted very differently.
Children are very adaptable and have already learned that different rules exist for school, for home, for visiting, etc. As long as each family is consistant with its rules, and understands the rules of the other family, there is no need to make each and every rule match exactly in both places.
Relationships rely on trust, and with a step-family you have to build that trust from scratch. Be there for your step-family - make time to do things, and to attend events, even small ones. Do what you say you will do, and keep promises, even the inconsequential ones. It's the little bricks that build a solid structure.
With all of the mixed messages in society today, it's hard for a young man to know exactly what is expected of him. Should he join the army? Become a day trader? Sweep his girlfriend off her feet? Expect her to open the door for herself?
Give your son some space to figure out where he fits in, and what he wants to be. Sure, if he wants to go on a navy sub to see the world, this might be different from you wanting him to be a doctor. There's always time for him to take up medicine later, and the decision making and soul searching he works through will serve him well, no matter what his eventual course in life.
Your parents and elder relatives have been around for more years than you have - and have a point of view seasoned by the years. While you may not agree with their opinions, respect that they have the right to their point of view. Many disagreements in generation-gap situations are based on the basic respect a person feels is warranted them.
Many families have lots of pictures when the family begins, and they taper off as life interferes. Grab an inexpensive digital camera and take pictures weekly, showing the things you do and the places you go. You'll find that looking back through these photos later on will bring back great memories - and relatives will love having the updates mailed to them!
Often a parent wants to shield the child from all of life's hurts. However, if your child is going to turn into a functional adult, he/she will have to know how to deal with the real world. The teenage years are when this needs to happen. Help your teenager learn coping skills with things that happen. Don't try to fix everything, and don't try to 'stop any and all mistakes'. Every person learns best from first-hand experience. If the consequences aren't serious this time, and the lesson is learned, it might prevent something far more serious from happening later on.
With all of the difficulties that might go on in a family, it's hard to remember sometimes that you're humans who care for each other. Find something *fun* to do together. Maybe it's an early morning walk. Maybe it's a once-a-month trip to the Mall. It doesn't have to involve lots of soul-searching talking. Just *being* there is often what is important.
As people age, they can start to feel left out of the normal activities of their friends and family. Be sure to include them in parties and get-togethers, even if they have to leave early or only stop by for an hour or so. That short time might be exactly what they need to feel important.
One of the most common complaints in families is that "nobody listens to me". This isn't just asking "How was school" or "How was work". Learn who the other works with, studies with, what the names of bosses and teachers are. Find out what projects are going on. The more involved you can be, and supportive you can be, the closer you will become.
You may have known this relative or parent your entire life, but it's amazing what you can learn if you really sit down and talk with them. There may be things they never had time to tell you about, or things they felt that you were too young for before. Ask about their first love, their scariest childhood situation, or how they felt when certain world events happened. You might be surprised what you'll learn.
There's something for everyone in a garden - some like the flowers, others the pumpkins for Halloween, others the carrots and potatoes, and still others the herbs and spices. Find something each person enjoys and set aside small blocks for each individual. Choose easy-to-grow items as well as chosen favorites - that way even if the trickier things don't sprout, there are still green growing things in each block.
Calling a timeout for the child who hit is just the first step - the anger and jealousy that caused the hit is what really needs to be addressed. Children are vying for time and attention (and often toys) - and there might not be enough of these things to go around. Admit this to the child, and ask to find ways together to work with what *is* available to meet their needs.
Young children cannot always be expected to share - before a certain age the concept simply has no meaning for them. Work with what the child is capable of, and find ways to meet each child's needs within the limits of time and money.
Most importantly, let each child know that you love them individually. When a child is secure in this knowledge, other petty jealousies tend to fade.
Find special one-on-one time with each person in the stepfamily, doing something special. It's during these private times that bonds can really be formed, and lasting memories forged. It doesn't need to be something expensive or extravagant - it can just be walking in the zoo or driving to the beach.
Stepfamilies do not begin like traditional marriages do - in order to have a stepfamily, children were already born to another "couple". This means that a stepfamily tends to have built-in feelings of jealousy and loss that do not exist in the traditional first-time-for-each marriage. Realize that these feelings exist, and that they are normal, and work to accept and move past these feelings.
Think of it as an exam to study for. If you have to stop and ask "Who?" when your step-family talks to you, it will add distance to your relationship. If instead you know the relatives, and their friends and teachers and co-workers, it'll make a huge difference when you talk. You'll already be "in the circle" and acceptance will be much, much easier.
Keep a list somewhere, and add to it every time you hear about a new person. It'll make remembering them much easier.
When a decision has to be made, about clothes choices or ice cream or other such items, offer each child a choice of a few options. If you stay away from open-ended questions ("where should we go today?") and instead restrict it to two or three items you know are acceptable to all children, the chance of agreement is far higher.
Food is an integral part of a family - people gather around a table not only for nourisment but also for the emotional and social bonds. Take advantage of that and get your family interested in a fun breakfast. Let the kids decorate pancakes with chocolate chips, or draw designs in maple syrup on waffles. Let them dye the batter blue or pink. They'll feel part of the creation process, and you'll all have some fun.
It can be hard sometimes, but really try to treat both natural and step family members fairly. This can't always be equally, but respect what each family member has to offer. Giving visiting family members more rights because they visit less often would make the 'local' family members jealous, for example.
Members of a stepfamily start out coming from different "lives", and have different ways of doing things, different traditions and techniques. Take the time to learn about each others' ways of doing things, and adopt some as a sign of cohesiveness. Also, think up some fun and new traditions for your new family group - things and ways that none have done before. This will help build a new set of "memories" for you.
Sibling Rivalry is in essence when two or more children both are vying for the time and attention of their parents. The more children involved, the less individual time the parents are capable of giving to each child. It is important for each child to feel important and loved by the parents - both as a group, but also as an individual.
As a parent, it is easy to dismiss the complaints of children in a sibling rivalry. Take the time to acknowledge that their complaints may be true. When there is more than one child, there *is* less individual time for each child, so the older child may be right in saying they are being paid less attention to. The younger child *is* a source that is drawing attention of the parents, and so may both be getting picked on by older siblings, or may also be tormenting older siblings in order to get more attention for himself.
Sit down with the family and, trying your best based on the ages involved, acknowledge that there is less of parents' time to go around with more children. Discuss this as a starting point, and find ways to meet your childrens' needs given this basis. In the time that *is* available, what would they like to do? What individual activities would they enjoy? Be sure to not only do things as a group, but to spend time with each child one-on-one. It is important for them to feel valuable as individuals, not just as a member of the family.
Children often introduce a new realm for arguments in a relationship. Couples that get along perfectly often begin to fight when raising children is involved. If you get into an argument, sit down and discuss what is involved. Is it actually what the child did? Or are you upset with how your partner handled the situation? Once you realize what the root of the problem is, you can address it so it doesn't flare up again.
If you bring home a video one child enjoys, grab another you know that will appeal to the other. For small things that don't cost a lot of money, it'll show that you were thinking of both of them, and give them both something they will enjoy. They don't have to be exactly the same, and in fact it helps emphasize their individuality if you get each one something they would enjoy in particular.
I still remember the first time I looked through photos of my mom when she was a teenager. She looked a lot like me! She seemed like she might have had the same sorts of thoughts and worries as I did! The mom should spend time discussing real issues from the past - not sugar-coated morality lessons, but the real ups and downs. The more you can "relate", the better your communication will be.
It is inevitable that members of the stepfamily will compare each other against other members of the external family - the mom vs the stepmom and so on. Let those comparisons be brushed aside. If someone says "mom is a better cook that you are", then agree and say they should be proud of their mom. Don't try to compete - instead, help show how each person has their own strengths and weaknesses, and each person should be respected for being an individual.
Unfortunately, literature is chock-full of the wicked stepmother image. Children are affected by this, and often approach a stepmother with fear and trepidation. Accept that this starting image is normal, and work to show that you are an individual, and have nothing to do with any stereotype. Be fair, and be yourself.
Stepfamilies normally do not instantly "gel" overnight - a period of time needs to pass as the various members get used to each other, learn about each other, and grow to love each other. This won't happen in a month, or six months, or even in a year. Allow each family member to develop their relationships in their own time. The less pressure put on each person, the more easily they will relax and build the relationships.
All families have fun together, but with a step-family it's often hard to get past the uncomfortable feeling. Be sure to plan events that just let you relax together, let you laugh and enjoy yourselves. Go to a baseball game, watch a movie, ride in bumper cars, watch the Nutcracker. The more time you spend smiling and simply enjoying each other's company, the easier the other times will be.
A tree is something that lasts for hundreds of years, and that you can watch grow from a small seedling into a huge treefort-holding oak. Find a spot that will handle the growth of the tree, and make the planting a family event. You can even photograph yourself by the tree each year. For fun, plant two trees and twine them as they grow.
Look through the wide range of activities out in the world, and find one you all would be interested in. Give camping a try, or fishing, or hiking, or biking. Whatever it is, you'll all be learning together, so nobody will be inherently 'better' than anyone else. You'll be able to share the joy of discovery.
Do you spend all your time with your friends? Probably not - you value your time away from them just as much. Since kids don't choose their siblings, and they are normally of different ages, it can be likely that they don't share common interests.
If your kids are fighting, don't try forcing them to spend time together. Often, being able to spend time alone makes them appreciate their time together more, and make it less turbulent. Give each child their own space, and time to do their own thing unbothered by others. Spend time with each child one-on-one, giving them your full attention. This should ease the amount of fighting that goes on when they are together.
If you are responsible for caring for elderly relatives, seek help with it. It is natural to wish to do everything yourself, but if you burn yourself out, it will hurt both you and those you care for. Let others assist, even if it means paying a small fee for someone to help check in each day or deliver groceries. It will pay for itself in the end.
Someone who has been in the work force for 20 or more years may wish to keep working, but their temperment and needs may mean they are now better suited for a different job, or even a different profession. Look into these options. There is no reason for a 50 year old to be "stuck" doing what he or she chose to do when only 20!
No relationship works well right from the start, and each person needs space in order to feel comfortable. Don't try to spend every minute of the time with the other person. Even just reading in the same room, or watching a show together can help forge the bonds. Being able to relax in silence might get you to the point where talking together is also relaxing.