OH MY GOD! I am going to be a step-mother. How do I learn about step-parenting? How do I help the children feel comfortable in a new living situation? How do I acknowledge the monumental changes in their lives? How do I co-parent? How do learn parenting skills? HELP!
These were my feelings 28 years ago when I became a step-parent. There were no readily available classes on parenting except legally mandated classes for abusive parents. Thus, it became my mission to learn parenting and step-parenting skills.
Luckily, in my roles as clinician and professor of nursing I was exposed to communication skills, theories of human growth and development and developmental psychology.
As a professor of nursing and as a clinician, I know that family of origin is a significant influence in how each of us learn to parent. But my family of origin was not perfect. (Whose is?) Can I overcome those deficits in my own parenting? What skills do I need to effectively parent school age children? teens?
I teach communication skills in my role as professor of nursing and nurse clinical specialist. Year in and year out, students discovered that the “therapeutic communication skills” that I taught them could be used to establish deeper relationships with partners, children and friends as well as with patients. Patients tell me that the communication skills that I taught them work in their relationship with family as well as in their work situation.
The core skills are called “active listening” where an individual listens to another individual in order to understand what it is like to “stand in the other person’s shoes” and then uses skills to demonstrate that understanding of the person and their needs. These skills can be learned and used in every walk of life including parenting.
I graduated from Stanford University with a major in Nursing Science. I began my career doing medical nursing and became interested in the effect of chronic illness on body image, self-esteem and a family’s response to a member with chronic illness. This led me to pursue an MS degree at University of California at San Francisco with a clinical focus on psychiatric nursing and major in nursing administration. I have worked in nursing administration in inpatient and outpatient settings but prefer working directly with patients.
As a clinician, working with patients, becoming familiar with their backgrounds, I am always reminded of the significant influence that family of origin has on a person’s interpersonal relationships, parenting style, self-esteem and coping. As a nurse, in inpatient and outpatient settings working with young adults and adults, I frequently need to assist patients to cope with and overcome the problems that they have that are based on family experiences. It is tough to be a parent and it is tough to be a kid. So, in my current endeavor of teaching parenting skills, I hope to assist parents to have a easier and happier time as parents, knowing that their children will benefit by becoming better adjusted adults. Parenting skills can be learned!
I am married and the step-mother of three happy, productive adults and a grand parent of two teen agers. I serve on the Board of Children’s Psychological Health Center in San Francisco and volunteer at Alzheimer’s Services of the East Bay.