His Number One Girl

teen girl

The family had just finished Sunday dinner. I clanked dishes in the soapy water, while everyone else sat around the fireplace enjoying reruns of The Cosby Show. Ten minutes later, I joined the group in the family room.

“Daddy, aren’t I your number one girl?” The hairs on my neck stood at attention. Our blended family consists of four boys and one girl. Our thirteen-year-old daughter, my husband’s oldest biological child, jockeyed for her position on a regular basis. I cocked my head to the left and with my eyes fixed on his mouth, waited for his reply.

“Baby, you’re daddy’s number one girl,” he said as he stroked her hand. My upper lip curled. “But Valerie is my number one lady.” He caressed my back and smiled. My contorted face relaxed a smidgen. The opportunity to affirm me presented itself and he wimped out. Later that evening, I expressed my contempt.

“Babe, why did you tell her that she was your number one girl?”

“Because she is my number one girl,” he said as he slapped some Colgate on his toothbrush.

“I know, but her motive for asking was to force you to choose between me and her.” I slipped on my pajamas, stomped into the bedroom and plopped on the bed. “Why didn’t you correct her?”

“I didn’t see a need to correct her. She didn’t do anything wrong.”

“See, that’s what I’m talking about. You miss all the subtle things she says or does to get under my skin.”

“So why do you keep exposing yourself?”

“Good night, Craig.” I snatched the covers and rolled over. No kisses tonight.

While compiling Blended Family An Anthology, I interviewed Brenda McKinney, a licensed social worker and family therapist. I shared the event with her.

“Can you believe that? His number one lady,” I said, with my head shifting from side to side. “What a cop out.”
“Actually, your husband gave the best possible reply.”

“Really? How’s that?” Curious George walked into the room and jumped on my back.

“His response validated both of you. He acknowledged her position as daughter and yours as wife. He put a stop to the game without creating chaos. I’m really quite impressed.”

“Wow. I wish I had known that seven years ago.”

Consumed with the princess’ attempt to dethrone me, I failed to realize that my queendom was never in jeopardy. She believed that if she lost her place as daddy’s number one girl, then she would also lose his love. Her statement was not an attack against me, but a call for reassurance that their relationship was still solid.

So after eating a full-course meal of shame salad, meathead meatloaf, stir-fried stupid, topped off with humble pie for dessert, I apologized to my husband. Kisses tonight.

Valerie ColemanThe bestselling author of Blended Families An Anthology, Valerie J. Lewis Coleman has helped thousands of families navigate the challenges of child support, visitation, discipline and more. With over twenty years of experience in family and relationships, this expert has given advice on varying issues including baby-momma drama, defiant children and disapproving in-laws. On her journey to assist others with building strong families, she shares her personal testimony and practical tools to help you stop the stepfamily madness in your home! To learn more about Valerie, her books and overcoming relational matters, visit PenOfTheWriter.com.

Photo credit © Paul Simcock

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Praising Your Child for Good Grades

girl doing homeworkIt’s no secret that children thrive on praise. It is an immediate boost to self-confidence and praise is a great motivator. The highest reward for good grades is praise. When a child does well in school praise is a way of encouraging them to “keep up the great work” and it helps assure them that their hard work is worth the effort.

From day one in kindergarten it is essential for parents to encourage good grades and hard work in school. Let the child know early on that working hard in school is expected of them but being rewarded for good grades is a benefit of their hard work. Giving praise to a child for a job well done is seen as something worth striving for.

As a former reading tutor for kindergarten students, I would often praise my students with a heartfelt hug and a “great job,” which the kids loved. I also saw many eyes light up when given a cute sticker for doing well on their reading assignments. After earning five stickers the student was then able to choose from an assortment of pencils, erasers or crayons as their “great achievement” reward. It was a perfect motivator for the children to want to do their reading—everyone wanted their pencil on Friday!

As parents, your reward doesn’t have to be an object or money but can simply be genuine praise. Kids loved to be praised and to hear mommy and daddy tell them they did well contributes to the emotional and psychological wellbeing of a developing child. Know the difference between genuine praise and excessive flattery, though, as you don’t want to create a false ego or bravado in your child.

If your child’s grades are not up to par help them by working with them on a daily basis. The greatest gift you can give to your child is your time. If your child is struggling with a particular subject be sure to review the schoolwork with them each night and help answer questions—but never do the work for them!

As your struggling child advances in school you may find that you are no longer able to help them. Speak with the teacher about possible in-school tutoring that may be available. Nothing is more debilitating to a child than struggling in the classroom so getting help early will benefit your child the rest of their school career.

Praise a struggling child as you see their work improving as it is a wonderful incentive to keep striving for better results. Praising a child for achieving a goal does wonders for their self-esteem and they’ll want to do it again and again. If the child falls short, encourage them to keep trying. Don’t get frustrated but be supportive and praise those baby-steps in the right direction.

Rewarding a child with praise is an incentive for them to set goals and strive to achieve those goals. Your child will see that an achieved goal brings about pride and satisfaction in their own accomplishment. This alone is motivation enough to always strive to do well.

LaDeneLaDene Mayville is the author of
Hallie the Harvester Ant
She is a freelance writer and has three grown sons.

Photo credit © Les3photo8

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Returning to school after their parents have separated or divorced can be difficult for any child. You can ease the transition, however, by making the school your ally. This will open the door to the many resources available to you through the school. The key here is in forming a cooperative relationship with key personnel. Making your […]

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PicMonkey Collage fruit

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Peter Rabbiit

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