Co-Parenting, Uncategorized

“Should I get my 10-year-old a smart phone?”

“Alan” in Green Cove Springs, FL asks us:

“Should I get my 10-year-old son a smart phone? I hate even asking that question because I’ve dreaded this coming age because of the social media influences. However, if I want to talk to my son, I have to call my ex-wife’s cell phone. She either doesn’t pick up or she’s always sitting right there when I talk to my son. He’s always very guarded, and the conversations feel forced. Should I get him his own phone? BTW, I would be paying 100 percent for the phone, of course. I appreciate any advice you can give me.”

What advice would YOU give Alan?

Stepfamily Consortium will reply with an answer later this week.

Verses For The Journey

My Lord Goes As A SHIELD Before My Enemies! – A note from site administrator and Coach Lynnette Flatt

This verse means a lot to me. The word “shield” was first revealed to me when I cracked a Bible as a struggling 12-year-old. I was facing some harsh enemies, a.k.a. the “mean girls” at school. After one particular emotionally exhausting day, I sat on my bed with my mother’s Bible. I was desperate to read any verse that would guide me through a dark night. I placed the Bible across my lap and I let it fall open. I looked down and saw it was open to the Book of Psalms. I started reading. The tears flowed as I lifted my eyes upward. The Lord, My Shield. He was my shield during that dark time. He remained my shield in many more dark times throughout my youth and adulthood. This word and this verse show up without fanfare or expectation. This is the verse. I hope you feel protected and “shielded” by God’s love also.

“Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, “There is no help for her in God. BUT YOU, O LORD, ARE A SHIELD FOR ME, My glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord Sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O Lord; Save me, O my God!” Psalm 3:1-6

Client Stories

True Client Stories by Dr. Jeannette Lofas


Names and data are changed to protect their identity

                  Owen is a psychiatrist.  He is tall, handsome, quick, friendly, and sometimes ill tempered.  His wife Alexandra is lovely – blonde, womanly, and an elegant hostess.  She has a quick and sharp tongue; she is witty and sometimes sassy.  A few months into their marriage they came to see me.  Alexandra related:  He doesn’t listen, he doesn’t understand.  He was wonderful before we got married, attentive and caring.  What happened to my love?”  Alexandra was uncomfortable and angry.  She shifted in her seat and looked at me.  Owen was losing all his patience with her about what he should and shouldn’t do.  I could see his eyes glaze over.  I could see his mind leave the room as Alexandra went through a lengthy litany of complaints.

                  As I listened to them I noticed all the hallmarks of gender related problems.  He stopped listening to her as she got more and more into her feelings, as she used more and more words and described her pain to him.  Just like the current thinking, we should let it all hang out, we should tell the truth of how we feel.  She related this event and that event.  What he did, what she did, and what others said.  I stopped her.

                  Then I talked to Owen.  We discussed his opinion in the latest findings:  Prozac issues with insurance, data facts.  Owen seemed to perk up and we had a good discussion together, linear-to-linear, task-to-task, solution-to-solution.  After a bit I said to him, “now listen how I talk to Alexandra.”  I began to talk to Alexandra about my new rug, new movies, the weather, the newest fashions, did she want more coffee, and then about my rug.

                  I noticed that as I spoke to one the other one focused away and grew bored and annoyed.  And then I told them what I had just done.  With Alexandra, I talked the way women talked.  With Owen, I talked about the way men talk.  “Now Alexandra”, I said, “what did Owen and I talk about?”

                  “Oh you know, medicine and boring stuff”, she said.

                  And Owen, “what did Alexandra and I talk about?”

                  “The rug,” he said. After the rug and the movies he hadn’t been listening hard enough to notice anything else.  I had video taped the session.  We watched it together.  We took note of Owen’s face as Alexandra and I talked.  We saw that on the video that when she noticed him scowling, her response was to talk faster, and use more words.  Using the film I showed Alexandra how she had lost Owen.  He wasn’t following her circular mode of thought.  He looked overwhelmed and annoyed.

                  Owen unable to follow her did what men often do when we use too many   words/thoughts/messages, he zoned out. Unable/unwilling to follow he left the space.

Also it is said that woman’s verbal contact/way of speaking can actually overwhelm a man’s brain causing what therapists call flooding.

                  I told Owen that what he needed to do was to say something like I love you, but I am not following…could you use less words? Could you give me the headline about what you want. 

I want to hear you but I cannot.  MORE?

                  It is abundantly clear to me that Owen and Alexandra had a classic problem of men and women.  They do not organize or speak the same language.  In fact they use language quite differently.  It took only a few more sessions to teach these two intelligent people their different modes of communicating.


Mother’s Day Is Just Around The Corner – By Dr. Jeannette Lofas

It is Mothers’ Day in the stepfamily / blended family.

Despite the cards and flowers stepmothers face these daunting issues.

Did we miss anything?  Tell us about you.

Some Issues and Complaints

The Stepmother may say:

  • “It’s Mothers’ Day and little to no thanks for what I do
  • “He’s asked me to take the kids and get a present for Her
  • “What is my role in this family?
  • “I thought it might be hard, but not this hard!
  • “He won’t discipline his kids
  • “My dilemma… discipline or not to discipline.
  • “Who comes first?
  • “Everyone in his life, his kids, his former wife, and his business, comes before me.
  • “His ex calls and he jumps to her commands It seems as though she has more influence on him than anybody.
  • “My money goes to support this family because his money goes to take care of the ex and the kids.
  • “When his children come over we have no sex life.
  • “I think I’m becoming the “cruel stepmother.”

It is Mothers’ Day in the Stepfamily/Blended Family.
Mothers’ Day can underline the stepmother’s questions. For many stepmothers they still face these daunting questions:

1.    I know a stepfamily/blended family just doesn’t always work like
       a biological family.  But how do we manage our
       stepfamily/blended family?  ……………………………………………….      
2.    Who comes first, the partner or the kids?  ………………        
3.   What is my position in this stepfamily?  …………………      
4.    The prior spouse.  Help?  ……………………………….       
5.   We love each other, now the children are pulling
this relationship apart. ………………………………….. …..      
6.   We cannot agree on discipline.  Is it normal?  …………..      
7.  Why does guilt seem to run his relationship, the kids?.  …        
8. Should the kids visitation cause upsets between us?  ……   

We welcome your comments.


Guest Blogger – Lynnette R. Flatt, Certified Stepfamily Foundation Coach

Parental Alienation Syndrome – An Ugly Reality


“If you don’t encourage the child to have a relationship with the other parent, you’re a bad parent or a bad grandparent.  You can either encourage it or discourage it.”  Judge Judy 

Does “Judge Judy’s” statement sound harsh? Alienating a child from a biological parent, caring relative, or ANYONE the child loves and respects IS harsh.  It is called Parental Alienation.  Alienating a child from a loving family member can lead to PAS, Parental Alienation Syndrome.  Some members of our legal system consider PAS to be a form of child abuse.   

What exactly is Parental Alienation Syndrome? PAS is defined by USLEGAL.COM as “a term used in child custody cases to describe one parent’s manipulation of a child to harm the other parent.  It may involve:  

  • Rejecting (spurning), terrorizing, corrupting, denying essential stimulation, denying emotional responsiveness or availability
  • Unreliable and inconsistent parenting
  • Mental health, medical, or educational neglect
  • Degrading/devaluating the other parent
  • Isolating and exploiting the child.  The alienator parent seeks to alienate the victims from other family members and social supports.  There is a conscious or concerted effort to disrupt the child’s affectionate relationship with the other parent and/or stepparent and co-opt all of the child’s affection on to oneself.  In PAS, the children are used to destroy the targeted parent as a mean of revenge.”

According to, some classic Warning Signs that Parental Alienation Syndrome is taking place are: 

  • Anger is promoted towards the targeted parent.  A co-parenter will speak negatively about the targeted parent to the child. For example, the co-parenter might say, “I can’t afford to buy you nice things because I am broke and it’s your Dad’s fault.”  Another hurtful and direct comment might be, “Your Mom left us, and she doesn’t care what happens to us.
  • Covert attempts to promote anger take place. Sometimes a co-parenter will deny saying anything bad about the targeted parent directly to the children.  A malicious co-parenter might tout himself or herself to be “moral” and “good” while at the same time badmouthing the targeted parent (and/or the new stepparent) when the kids are within earshot.  THIS IS STILL JUST AS BAD.  It is a passive-aggressive way to promote anger, and it’s still just as hurtful to the child.  If the child can hear your negative comments, it’s still wrong.  This also applies to social media.  If you don’t badmouth the targeted parent directly but you post on Father’s Day that their Dad is a “jackass”, well that’s pretty bad. (True story.) 
  • The child is witness to grown up details.  A manipulating co-parenter will tell the child intimate details about the divorce and ongoing struggles between the co-parenters and the households.  They also might call his/her child their “best friend”.  That is SUCH an inappropriate title for a child!  It creates lots of confusion about the parent/child relationship within young minds.  Don’t do this.
  • Negatives messages not necessarily in the form of words are expressed to the child about the targeted parent.  This can include the co-parenter shaking his/her head or rolling his/her eyes at something the targeted parent said or did.  This behavior by the co-parenter can be just as damaging as negative words spoken. Children are quite perceptive and they know eye rolls and head shakes are meant to be dismissive.  The co-parenter is clearly sending a message that he/she thinks the targeted parent is wrong or foolish in some way.  Such behavior can affect a child’s self-esteem.  When negative words or actions are expressed about a targeted parent, it hurts the child.  Remember, they are half of the other parent as well.  

  • The co-parenter refuses to co-parent reasonably.  This one is personal.  Steve was not allowed to pick up his elementary/middle school-aged son from his exe’s house.  She would drop off Keegan at a nearby park to avoid seeing Steve.  Sometimes, this was at night.  Keegan would be sitting there, in the dark, clutching a tiny suitcase.  This infuriated us.  His ex was more concerned with her own feelings than the safety of her son.  Steve would have to do the same routine at drop-off, but he would wait to make sure it was indeed the ex who picked up Keegan.  This went on for a couple years until finally we had enough of this ridiculous request.  Steve decided to start picking up/dropping off Keegan at the exe’s house.  We did this until he was old enough to drive and meet us.  His ex didn’t care for this too much, but this wasn’t about her.  The safety of Keegan was our number one priority.  
  • The co-parenter might make false accusations of abuse.  I’m sure there are many parents who are unable to see their children because of such wicked claims.  Granted abuse is real and it can and does happen, but when used as a false claim it is the lowest of the low.  Lying about physical, sexual, or emotional abuse makes permanent, deep scars within the child’s mind.  

I know this was a very heavy subject for today.  I don’t like talking about this either, and I wish PAS didn’t exist. On the other hand, PAS has existed since families became intertwined, and its affects are finally being recognized.  Tomorrow I will discuss the seemingly “innocent” things we do or say to our stepchildren that take on various forms and levels of PAS.  Go ahead and do some research on the topic as time permits today.  The recent articles and extensive studies about PAS are very enlightening. P