Posts Tagged "family"

2Nov

‘Normalize it’: How to discuss adoption, donor conception with your child – National

by BBG Hub

Your child will eventually pop the big question — “where do babies come from?” — and your answer will have a lasting impact on the way they think about what it means to be part of a family.

This is especially true if your child was adopted or conceived with donated sperm or egg (also known as third-party reproduction), because their origin story will affect them in many ways as they age,

That’s why, in Shelley Steenrod‘s opinion, it’s crucial to be open and honest with your child. She’s a professor of social work at Salem State University in Massachusetts.

READ MORE: How to build a growth mindset in your kids: ‘They are going to be unstoppable’

“It’s essential for kids to know who they are and where they have come from,” she said. “It’s very important for them to integrate all aspects of themselves and their history into their whole self.”

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If you choose not to tell your child the truth, you run the risk of them finding out later in a different way — like through a DNA test.

“We live in such a high-tech world, children are going to find out one way or another,” said Steenrod. “As the holder of that information, you want to be somebody who shares it with your child in a way that’s going to be loving and nurturing and not surprising.”

Here, Steenrod and other experts share tips for telling your child their unique origin story in a loving way.

Tell the truth from the beginning

Keeping your child’s story a secret can inadvertently associate adoption and third-party reproduction with feelings of “guilt and shame,” said Steenrod.

“Families can be created in all different kinds of ways, and that’s something to be celebrated.”


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That’s why it’s critical to tell the truth from the outset. For Steenrod, this means talking openly about your child’s origin story long before they ask questions about it.

“You’re building it into the narrative of your family’s story and planting seeds that later, can become flowers … you can then tug on and pull on to talk about more complex pieces of adoption,” she said.

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Why a 27-year-old Canadian woman chose to be single and pregnant


Why a 27-year-old Canadian woman chose to be single and pregnant

Nikki Martyn, program head of early childhood studies at the University of Guelph-Humber in Ontario, agrees: “We need to start having these conversations with children right away,” she said.



“We are where we came from.”


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Martyn recommends building the story in a physical way, using something like a scrapbook. This will give your child an item they can go back to and say, “this is where I came from.”

“Emphasize how important they are, how much they were wanted and how much they were loved,” she said. “If this is what they are told early, they’re never going to question it.”

Expect to talk about it often

Your child’s origin story is a big part of who they are, so they’ll likely have questions about it for years to come.

At first, said Steenrod, focus on the basics. “Say ‘I want to tell you how families are made’ and then include all the ways out there,” she said. “Totally normalize it.”

Slowly and when you think they’re ready, reveal to your child a little bit more of the story.






Why training your child like a dog may be a bad idea


Why training your child like a dog may be a bad idea

As your child grows up, they’re going to develop the cognitive and emotional resources necessary to have more advanced conversations about it.

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“There may come a time when they start to think, ‘If my birth mom could choose not to keep me, she could have chosen to keep me. Is there something wrong with me?’” said Steenrod.

That’s when you want to re-emphasize “the child’s strengths and how lovable they really are.”

READ MORE: How to stop a bully when it’s your own child

If your child’s origin story contains trauma or some other adult subject matter, it can be tricky to find a good time to tell them the whole truth.

According to Martyn, it’s up to you and your empathy to know when it’s the right time.

“At a very young age, it would be [something along the lines of] ‘your biological mom wasn’t able to take care of you because she was having a hard time,’” she said.






Challenges of parenting highly sensitive kids


Challenges of parenting highly sensitive kids

When the child gets old enough, you can elaborate on struggle and pain — feelings that children understand. If their biological mother suffered from addiction, for example, you can explain the science behind addiction.

“All the while, you’re emphasizing that [the child] was your greatest gift,” Martyn said.

Emphasize love, connection and commitment

Many parents worry how this news will affect a child.

Parenting expert Caron Irwin suggests focusing on “tangible examples of the love and connection and commitment that your family has” during and after each discussion.

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“The thing that makes a family is the traditions and the rituals and the love and the connections and the things that you have that are unique among you all,” she said.

If you’re worried, try following the conversation with a “photo album of a special vacation” or “finish up … with the special hug that you have with your child.”

“Those kinds of things are going to … give them security,” she said.

READ MORE: Sisters ‘pre-create’ wedding photos with dad who only has months to live

Martyn backs this up — it can feel like the truth might hurt them, or it might make you less of a parent, but that’s not the case.

“They don’t need to be protected from their origin story,” she said.

“There’s nothing wrong. That’s why we have to re-frame it and celebrate these differences.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.






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12Oct

When political differences create family drama — and how to handle it at Thanksgiving – National

by BBG Hub

With the federal election just around the corner, Thanksgiving dinner will likely come with a side of political debate.

“There’s often that one relative who always has to be right … or a relative who is insufferable, won’t listen and wants to pontificate,” says Melanee Thomas, an associate professor of political science at the University of Calgary.



While some families have more civil discussions than others, Thomas says, research shows Canadian society may be becoming more polarized.

A recent political study found evidence of “affective polarization” among the Canadian public, which is described as a “dislike of parties or their supporters on the other end of the political spectrum simply because they belong to an opposing group.”

READ MORE: Got questions about voting in Canada? Here are some answers

This trend is troubling, researchers say, because it suggests “polarization does not just influence people’s opinions about the parties, but also how they view ordinary Canadians.”

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Thomas says this is happening in the U.S., too, and points to research that shows political polarization has caused people to adopt an “us-versus-them” mentality.

So how can you talk out political differences without turning Thanksgiving dinner into the first leaders’ debate? The first step is setting pure intentions.

Come from a place of curiosity

You may think your cousin is a tool for his views on tax reform, and that’s OK. But don’t jump into a heated argument with someone just because they have different views than you, says Ottawa-based etiquette expert Julie Blais Comeau.

Instead, approach the conversation from a place of genuine curiosity. If you want to understand why someone believes what they do, ask.






Which federal leader has post-debate momentum?


Which federal leader has post-debate momentum?

Blais Comeau suggests using prompts like, “Tell me more,” “That’s really interesting, I never thought about it that way” and “Can you give me an example?”

By using neutral language, you are not coming across as combative. This helps promote healthy discourse, Blais Comeau says.

Use evidence, not emotion

If you’re going to talk politics at the table, educate yourself on issues and be prepared to back up your points. Insults and below-the-belt remarks do not move conversations in a productive manner.

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READ MORE: Why isn’t violence against women an election issue?

“Present evidence and try to have a dispassionate conversation,” Thomas suggests.

“Ask people to explain why they feel a certain way to get them into a position where they consider they might not actually be correct.”

This tactic does not always work, Thomas says, especially if someone holds polarized views. When it’s clear you and another person are not getting anywhere, take a step back and regain your cool.






Leaders’ Debate: Scheer mocks Trudeau for being ‘oddly obsessed’ with provincial politics


Leaders’ Debate: Scheer mocks Trudeau for being ‘oddly obsessed’ with provincial politics

Don’t take things personally

It’s easy to say and harder to do, but try not to take someone’s political views personally, says Blais Comeau.

“People take [politics] very personally because what they feel is being ‘attacked’ are their own beliefs and values,” Blais Comeau explains.

“So if we’re going to talk about politics at the table, we should approach it from a fact-based point of view and we should definitely keep context in mind.”

READ MORE: There are stark disparities in access to mental health services across Canada

Thomas also suggests pivoting the conversation when it’s heading in a direction you find offensive.

“Try to find some common ground or pivot so that people can talk about a general issue without it necessarily being partisan versus partisan,” she says.

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Know when to walk away

If you know a certain family member is prone to taking a constructive conversation to a nasty place, you might want to speak to them beforehand. Blais Comeau says ringing up a relative and politely telling them that you want to keep Thanksgiving dinner civil can help prevent fights.

“Set the expectations that you don’t intend things to go into a negative direction,” Blais Comeau says. “Make it clear from the outset that the purpose of this gathering is to be grateful, to enjoy each other’s company and not to start a fight.”






How to vote in the 2019 federal election


How to vote in the 2019 federal election

If things do get heated at gatherings, it’s perfectly OK to put an end to the conversation. If your Uncle Jeff does not listen to opposing stances — no matter how well argued they are — you may have to accept that his mind isn’t going to change anytime soon.

In these cases, take the diplomatic “agree-to-disagree” stance.

“Say, ‘I recognize that we’re both passionate, and we can go back and forth on this for a long time, so why don’t we agree to disagree?’” says Blais Comeau.

“Or just put an end to it by saying: ‘You know, that’s interesting. I’m going to have to let that simmer for a few days.’”

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READ MORE: Paid leave, tax credits, more benefits — What the parties are promising parents

— With a file from the Canadian Press

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.






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22Sep

Canada’s health-care system isn’t designed for parents with disabilities: experts – National

by BBG Hub

Jessica Vliegenthart was 20 years old when she became paraplegic after suffering a severe spinal cord injury.

Doctors said she was still able to have children, but she struggled to see how parenting could fit into her new life.

“I always sort of thought, you know, at some point in my life, I would probably [want kids]… but after my injury, I immediately wrote it off,” she told Global News.

“I thought, ‘I don’t want to add to this nightmare.’”

READ MORE: Children with disabilities were excluded from B.C. schools more than 3,000 times last year: report

Vliegenthart says it took five years after the accident before she felt like herself again. “Spinal cord injuries are a massive physical trauma,” she said.

“I was lucky, I escaped a lot of the psychological trauma that can go along with it — I never experienced depression or anxiety or fear or anything like that — but it took me five years to re-calibrate.”

Around that time, Vliegenthart married her husband. Slowly, having kids was back on her mind.

“It was almost just like the next thing to do in life,” she said.

WATCH (Sept. 2, 2019): Kingston teen creates app to help open doors for people with disabilities





But starting the process to have children was more complicated for Vliegenthart because of her disability.

“I had to go off some medication I’m on that makes my life livable. That was really hard.”

She was also worried about re-learning things as a mom who is also paraplegic.

READ MORE: ‘I couldn’t believe it’: Why disability claims for mental health are often a struggle

“I’m a super active person… I had been travelling the world playing sports, now I have a full-time demanding legal career. I had gotten my life dialed in so well with my disability,” Vilegenthart said. “I was worried I was setting a bomb off.”

It didn’t help that, throughout her pregnancy, she had a lot of questions her doctors couldn’t answer.

“For moms with disabilities, especially when the mom has a (physical) disability and is carrying the child, trying to get the answers to questions about what’s going to happen and how things work… that data simply doesn’t exist,” she explained.

WATCH (Aug. 24, 2019): What to know before withdrawing from RESP savings





She had the pre-baby jitters like most other expectant mothers, but they were compounded by fear about how her disability could affect her pregnancy.

“Not being able to look it up and have an answer sitting there was really frustrating.”

Lesley Tarasoff can attest to a major lack of data about pregnancy and disability in Canada.

For her research as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Toronto, she has interviewed dozens of Ontario women with different types of disabilities about their pregnancy care experiences. One common thread exists: there’s very little information about it.

READ MORE: New rules present some greater barriers to air travel, disabled passengers say

“Just in general, a lot of health-care providers don’t receive a lot of training (or) education around disability broadly,” said Tarasoff.

Nearly 12 per cent of Canadian women of reproductive age has a disability… (but) we know very few doctors, nurses, social workers, et cetera have training around disability and pregnancy, specifically.”

This can contribute to feelings of confusion, fear and anxiety in expectant mothers who have a disability. It also makes it difficult to advocate for better health-care services — ultimately, it can perpetuate the barriers to adequate care that disabled parents sometimes experience.

Barriers to access

The needs of a parent with a disability will vary depending on the kind of disability they have, but one thing is clear to Tarasoff: most maternity care settings “aren’t really set up for women with disabilities in mind.”

“This is in terms of physical accessibility, but also around the different ways (people) communicate in learning and reading levels,” said Tarasoff.

Each time Vilegenthart saw a doctor, she was frustrated to find that the bed height wasn’t adjustable.

“For some reason, they don’t exist. Trying to get gynecological (and) obstetrician care… when you can’t get up on those beds is a challenge,” she said.

WATCH: Half of fathers admit to being criticized about parenting: poll





“I want to make it clear that my medical team did the best they could. I don’t want to make it sound like it was their fault, because, to be honest, they were kind of pioneers.”

The physical barriers continued after Vilegenthart had her son. She quickly realized that she couldn’t wear her baby in a carrier and also push her wheelchair — a reality which confined her to her house.

“The first six months was really challenging for me. It was like a force… I had to slow down,” she said.

READ MORE: Cancer patient was cut off from work disability benefits for 10 months — his story has warning for everyone

Access is worse the farther away you live from major cities.

“I’ve interviewed women as far as two and half hours away from Toronto who (…) come to Toronto for care because their community doesn’t have a specialist,” said Tarasoff.

Living in Kamloops, B.C., Vilegenthart had to travel to Vancouver for appointments regarding her pregnancy and her spinal cord injury. “You have to live in those places (or) you’re kind of stuck making it up as you go,” she said.

Everyone’s needs are different

“People with disabilities often make really great parents,” said Kristy Brosz, a medical social worker in Calgary.

She works with patients and their families after there is a diagnosis of disability or chronic illness.

“They’re very thoughtful about their priorities… they’re used to having to prioritize their day and be vulnerable.”

But these parents have unique needs, and Brosz says the medical system rarely provides specialized support for the pregnancy and parenting phases in a patient’s life.

“Often, patients are looking long-term (and want help) making choices about having kids or not… but a lot of times, the medical system is just saying ‘let’s focus on your diagnosis and treatment.’”

WATCH (Aug. 6, 2019): How to world school





In her work, Brosz tries to prioritize concerns like these, but it can be difficult to provide resources for people with lesser-known disabilities and illnesses. “In some ways, it does depend on what your diagnosis is (when it comes to) how much support you’re going to get.”

In reality, the needs of two patients with the same disability will be drastically different, which is why Brosz says there needs to be a more individualized approach to treatment.

“How do we capitalize on the strengths of a loving family?” she said. “A lot of patients have been living (with these symptoms) for a while, so they already know what they need,” and any external supports should focus on maximizing the systems a family already has in place.

READ MORE: Expert raises disability over proposed single-use plastics ban 

In Vilegenthart’s experience, having a community of other parents with disabilities has been life-changing.

“The single greatest resource out there is other people who have done it in your situation. Once I found a network of women with spinal cord injuries who had young kids… it was amazing,” she said.

“We ask each other questions about everything from labour and delivery to how to handle a kid’s birthday party when the place isn’t accessible to you.”

“Find other parents with disabilities who have figured it out, because somebody has figured it out.”

 

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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22Aug

Controversial U.K. animal expert wants parents to ‘train’ babies like dogs – National

by BBG Hub

A public television network in the U.K. is facing backlash for recently airing a documentary called Train Your Baby Like a Dog.

The series, on Channel 4, features two sets of parents who struggle to control their young children’s behaviour. Enter animal behaviouralist Jo-Rosie Haffenden, who recommends using dog training methods — like encouraging good behaviour with treats — as a way to manage misbehaviour.

“If everyone parented their child the same way we’re training our dogs, we’d end up with much more caring and compassionate human beings,” Haffenden said in a Channel 4 press release.

READ MORE: What happens when children don’t take sex-ed classes

In the show, Haffenden can be seen working with a three-year-old boy named Greydon, who has “daily tantrums and violent outbursts.” She also works with an 18-month-old girl named Dulcie, who refuses to sleep alone.

According to her website, Haffenden studied applied psychology and went on to earn a postgraduate degree in animal behaviour. Using her knowledge of animals, she aims to show people similar animals are to humans.

The documentary was announced on August 13 and met with criticism. Prior to its airtime on August 20, more than 30,000 people signed a petition that called for the show to be cancelled.

One of Haffenden’s most controversial recommendations is using a “clicker” to teach kids right from wrong. London-based organization Autistic Inclusive Meets, who started the petition, argues that this is especially worrisome.

According to the dog food company Pedigree, clickers are commonly used to train dogs “to associate the sound of a click with a food reward.”

“The children are shown no dignity or respect in click training behaviourism,” Autistic Inclusive Meets noted in the petition.

READ MORE: Children who watch ‘Sesame Street’ may perform better at school, study finds

In a statement provided to Huffington Post U.K.a Channel 4 spokesperson said that “throughout filming and broadcast, the welfare of all contributors in the program is of paramount importance and the process is supervised by qualified child psychologists.”

“The program explores a new approach to childcare, grounded in positive, science-based motivational techniques that are used widely by parenting coaches and animal behaviour experts.”

The documentary still aired on August 20, and parenting expert Kathy Lynn understands why parents are angry.

WATCH BELOW: Half of fathers admit to being criticized about parenting, poll says





“Your child isn’t a dog. It’s that simple,” Lynn told Global News.

“When we’re talking about our children and teaching [them] right from wrong, we’re using language, we’re talking to them, we’re communicating with them. We’re not just yelling orders at them.”

According to Lynn, treating a child like a dog isn’t a good idea for a number of reasons — the first being that the child is a human, and they will argue back if they feel disrespected.

READ MORE: Becoming a father can negatively affect men’s mental health, survey says

“They need us to set limits, of course, but they don’t need us to be barking orders and giving them treats,” she said.

“We don’t relate to dogs in the same way [as children]. Both dogs and children need training, no question, but we don’t sit down and have a conversation with a dog.”

For starters, Lynn is worried about classifying behaviour like Dulcie’s inability to sleep alone as “problematic.”

WATCH BELOW: Predators could be playing online games with your child





“If a child is crying, it’s because they’re hungry or they’re having a bad dream or they’re afraid of the dark,” she said. “Children cry as one method of communication with parents… and parents need to learn to listen and pay attention.”

Young children don’t yet have the language to explain why they’re upset, and it’s up to parents to understand this.

“A child who’s crying in the middle of the night needs you there,” Lynn said.

In her view, episodes of poor behaviour — like Greydon’s tantrums — are actually opportunities to teach your child how to communicate effectively.

READ MORE: 1 child a year dies on average from being stuck in a hot car, study says

“We need to be raising our kids to communicate with us,” she said.

By treating your child as you would a dog, your child is sent the message that “they won’t be heard,” said Lynn.

“Children aren’t stupid. If it gets to the point where they know that no matter what they say, nobody’s going to pay any attention, some of them will withdraw and stop trying.”

WATCH BELOW: New Zealand parliamentary speaker babysits during House debate





Other kids will act out “as they try even harder to get their parents’ attention,” Lynn said.

“Neither of these are an outcome we’re looking for.”

Instead, Lynn encourages parents to work with children to determine how they feel.

“[Try to discern] what their needs are [and] how we can best meet their needs [while] also letting them know that there are rules and there are expectations,” she said.

READ MORE: Should you take your baby to the chiropractor? Experts weigh in

Lynn also takes issue with Haffenden’s practice of rewarding good behaviour with treats, as one does with a dog.

“We don’t need to [give] humans a treat every time,” she said.

“We expect our children to behave well. I’m not saying to ignore [good behaviour], but if we bend over backwards every time they do something correct, they’ll start to think [basic behaviour] is going above and beyond.”

[email protected]

 

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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10Aug

Family therapy can make you feel ‘validated.’ Here’s what to expect – National

by BBG Hub

We all have assumptions about what a session of family therapy can look like: screaming matches, gaps of silence or just not being able to face the person in front of you.

Family therapy comes in all shapes and forms. It can be an intimate session for a couple or a larger session with parents and siblings in the room. A session can be done with a therapist, a psychologist, a counsellor or a social worker.

Michelle Baer, a registered psychotherapist and Canadian certified counsellor, focuses on child and family therapy. She told Global News that family therapy sessions are meant to be safe spaces.

READ MORE: Therapy is expensive — here’s how to make the most of your sessions

“You can expect to take away feeling witnessed and validated in a safe space where each family member is able to share their story, learn new skills to facilitate more positive interactions with family members, practise techniques for individual emotional regulation and gain new perspectives,” she explained.

“Family therapy can help your overall problems and concerns by expressing, exploring and resolving the underlying thoughts, feelings and experiences that are contributing to dysfunctions in relationship patterns and individual functioning.”

Family therapy can vary in price depending on where you live in the country and the limitations of your health insurance. For example, in Toronto, princes can range from $100 to $250 per session. Liz Ryckman, an office intake co-ordinator with Kells Counselling in Edmonton, said the typical price for a session in the city is $200.

Some common misconceptions

That being said, there are still misconceptions about going to family therapy.

Ryckman says a common one is the belief that family therapy has to last a lifetime.

“In reality, the goal is to equip clients to be strong on their own,” she explained.

Baer added that with teens in particular, there is often concern about opening up.

WATCH: What you need to know about mental health and EMDR therapy





“They are worried they will have to sit in a circle talking about all of their feelings, that it will end up in yelling and that they will be expected to change,” she said. “People fear they will have to admit all of their faults or be forced to address their deepest wounds with a stranger and in front of those they love.”

The purpose of family therapy is creating a safe space where all family members feel heard, she added.

What family therapy can address

Baer said family therapy can help people break down “complex family dynamics.”

“[This is] where relationship patterns are strained and members are experiencing challenges in their life and/or family transitions such as separation and divorce, grief and bereavement, trauma, medical or mental health diagnosis, attachment issues and parenting struggles,” she continued.

According to the Mayo Clinic, sessions can last about 50 minutes to an hour and family therapy is often short-term. Within the sessions, families (or couples) are guided on how to express their thoughts and emotions and solve problems in a productive manner.

READ MORE: As a person of colour, it’s a struggle to find therapists who look like you

“[In family therapy, you can also] explore family roles, rules and behaviour patterns to identify issues that contribute to conflict — and ways to work through these issues,” the clinic added.

Family therapy will also help you understand your family’s strengths and weaknesses and provide tips on how to confide in each other.

But it may not be a fit for everyone, Baer noted.

“It may not be of benefit for someone currently experiencing a severe mental health issue, such as psychosis, that limits participation in relational therapy or involving family members that perpetrated abuse against another member(s),” she explained.

Another limitation is when a family member is hesitant to attend the session.

“I find in my practice, especially with teens or an absent parent, presenting family therapy as an invitation to all feel better and work better together is often more readily accepted than demanding someone attend to change or to ‘fix’ something about themselves,” she continued.

“Family members willing to attend can also participate in some sessions on their own, and using creative arts therapies techniques such as role play, we might explore how best to address the family member who currently does not want to attend with the goal of having them participate down the road.”

How to find a family therapist

Often, family therapists, counsellors and social workers can be found through word of mouth, but online searches can also be a good starting point.

“Choosing the right one for your needs can best be done by speaking to a few therapists, having a consult or knowing what specific issues or ways of working would be most important to your family,” Baer said.

READ MORE: 8 signs your child may be going through depression

“Finding the best fit is important for the success of the therapy process, and sometimes, personalities just clash even though someone’s credentials and practice might sound perfect. You have to meet a therapist to get a sense of if this person is someone you trust and would feel comfortable supporting you and your family.”

Also, find out what kind of technique the professional uses, Baer says. This can include games, art, puppets and other forms of creative therapy.

[email protected]

 

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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6Jul

‘He had to give up his family’: When toxic in-laws ruin relationships – National

by BBG Hub

Carol Sartor always felt like her relationship with her in-laws was forced.

The 47-year-old from North Vancouver got married in September 2003.

“[My mother-in-law] was cold and [my father-in-law] was arrogant and sexist,” she told Global News. “However, I believed family was important so once we had kids I gave them their time — I included them in everything. Many people thought they were my parents.”

READ MORE: 8 signs you’re in a toxic relationship — and how to get out

But over the years, Sartor’s marriage started to fall apart. “I noticed how much my husband was like his dad. I pulled away from my husband but continued to put on the Stepford Wife face for my kids and the public.”

The couple officially separated in 2018.

No relationship is perfect, but often, when one partner has difficulty getting along with their in-laws, it can cause tension for everyone involved.

Dealing with toxic in-laws

Rana Khan, a registered psychotherapist at Couple Therapy Toronto, told Global News these toxic relationships, whatever shape or form, happen over time.

“It’s also helpful to define what toxic means. To me, a toxic relationship is a relationship that no longer serves its function and a relationship where this harm directed to one or more people.”

And sometimes managing these relationships is doing preventative work to ensure it doesn’t turn toxic to begin with, he added.

“If you are putting in more than what you’re getting out in return from the relationship, this may be a problem for you,” he continued. “More often than not, what these relationships need is time and space. If you can find a balance between time and space, you can ensure that your relationship does not turn toxic.”

But sometimes, people tend to cut their family members off. Khan said it would be his last resort.

“I think cutting people off can not only be extremely difficult and not practical at times but it also has unintended consequences such as guilt and shame which are often not as well thought out,” he explained. “Also, are you cutting them off because you think that will be best for you or would that be best for the relationship? All these questions are helpful to consider when making your choice.”

READ MORE: ‘Can I fully commit?’: The millennials who have never been in a relationship

But not cutting in-laws off doesn’t mean putting up with them either. “I like to think of the middle path and to reach the middle path I think it involves a lot of self-reflecting and asking yourself questions — have I done what I could for this relationship? or have I done my part for this relationship? It is also helpful to renegotiate the terms of the relationship.”

Fighting with your partner and other family members

And besides carrying the burden of maintaining a relationship with your in-laws, these toxic relationships also end up hurting the couple.

Sartor said overtime, her own parents got involved. “My family did not like them or how my husband treated me so that also caused strain on me and my marriage.”

“It made me feel guilty but I always did what I thought was good for my kids and husband.”

Khan said couples who are thinking about marriage or long-term, need to have conversations about their larger families early on.

“If you have in-laws who are heavily involved in the relationship, I would ask what about that is a problem for you? What is the heavy involvement of the in-laws preventing you from doing, that you would otherwise be doing?” he explained.  “The answers to these questions is what would be helpful to focus on rather than the heavy involvement of the in-laws.”

Credit: Getty Images

And if your in-laws are fuelling arguments, it’s about checking in with yourself and your partner.

“I always would ask to differentiate between is this impacting me, is this impacting you (your partner), or is this impacting us,” he continued.  “If it is something that is impacting you, is this something that you can resolve on your own, independent from your partner?”

When culture clashes

Sometimes, our relationships with our in-laws comes down to family traditions or culture. For examples, in some South Asian communities, it is common for their daughter-in-law to move in with her husband and his parents. This can cause stress for all parties involved.

Khan said for those who have toxic relationships with their in-laws and are part of these communities, it is an added layer that can be hard to mediate.

“However, I’m a firm believer of options and choice. Is this your own choice that you’ve decided to uphold certain cultural values? Are these your own values?” he said. “If you can own your own values, I think that can make a difference in how you navigate those values. Then, I would focus on establishing norms early on in the relationship and having those conversations early so both sides know exactly what they signed up for.”

READ MORE: Signs you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship and how to get help

Kim of Caledon, Ont., who chose to only share her first name with Global News, said she never had a good relationship with her in-laws.

The 40-year-old got married in 2008 and met her in-laws for the first time the year before. She went to India to shop for her wedding and spent two days with them. She was later told it was “disrespectful” she didn’t see them more — she felt as if her in-laws held a grudge going forward.

“For my wedding jewelry they re-gifted me a small wedding set from the first wife of their other son,” she told Global News. “When they finally moved to Canada in 2012, they made it a point to stay at the other brother’s house.”

Today, her in-laws barely have a relationship with her son and over the years, were the root of multiple fights with her husband.

“Divorce was on the table [at one point] and I slept on a couch for eight months,” she said. Her husband went to a counsellor who told him his wife and son should come first.

“My husband is reason we still together, he had to give up his family or break this up. “

Khan added for some, family therapy can help. “If you’re having difficulties managing all of this on your own, it’s helpful to know that you’re not alone in trying to manage these relationships and that help is always available.”

For couples in similar situations, it’s important to focus on your own relationship.

“I like to believe that people are particularly good at managing their relationships and if they know that they need to improve privacy or improve independence or any other thing, then I believe individuals will make it work and find their own unique ways of doing that.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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28Jun

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry announce first royal tour ‘as family’ – National

by BBG Hub

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex just announced they are heading to Southern Africa this fall for their first official tour since welcoming their son.

On Thursday, details of their trip were shared to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry‘s official Instagram account, revealing that the royals will head to multiple countries later this year — and hinted that Archie will join them.

READ MORE: Prince Harry, Meghan share new photo of baby Archie for Father’s Day

“This will be their first official tour as a family!” read the announcement on Instagram.

According to their social media post, Markle and Prince Harry will travel to South Africa, and then the duke will visit Malawi and Angola.

“His Royal Highness will also do a short working visit to Botswana en route to the other countries,” the post said.

Royal officials also said that Markle and Prince Harry are “really looking forward” to meeting fans on the ground, and are excited to continue to raise awareness “of the high impact work local communities are doing across the Commonwealth and beyond.”

While the date of the trip has not yet been announced, Archie will be around six-months-old this fall.

WATCH BELOW: Meghan Markle debuts new ring





Markle and Prince Harry welcomed their first child early this May, and have revealed a few photos of him since his birth.

Botswana is a place Prince Harry and Markle have visited before together. In 2017, the couple travelled there to assist help with elephant conservation efforts.

The couple previously shared private photos of themselves from their trip to Instagram in April.

Prince Harry and brother Prince William have travelled throughout Africa and both are involved in efforts to protect wildlife there. The Duke of Sussex is also patron to a charity helping children in Lesotho.

On June 20, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they had formally parted ways from the charity foundation they shared with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Markle and Prince Harry’s charity work will continue through their own foundation, royal officials said.

— With a file from the Associated Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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24Apr

Expectant couple angers neighbours after asking them to do their chores, cook their meals – National

by BBG Hub

A Philadelphia couple is facing backlash after asking their neighbours to give them free meals and clean their house for them once their baby arrives.

The request was shared online, first to the crowdsourcing platform Meal Train and then on Nextdoor, a private social network for neighbourhoods.

Both posts have since been deleted, but not before snippets were shared to Twitter by neighbour Jack Jokinen.

In his request, father-to-be Jim Burns writes that he is “teetering on a fence of emotions” about the impending birth of his first child.

READ MORE: ‘Snowplow parenting’ is preventing young people from learning ‘basic life skills’

“On one side is joy and excitement, of course. But on the other side, is a great deal of fear!” said Burns.

“One of the things I’m most afraid of is not getting a great deal of sleep and as a result not being in the best frame of mind to offer my wife the support she needs to recover from the child-birthing process.”

Burns asks his neighbours to participate in what he refers to as a “meal train” or “mental-health check-in train” or “do you need any help today train.”

He then proceeds to list recipes for dozens of meals, including things like banana oat bars, salmon sweet potato cakes and chicken soup with white beans and kale.

Burns also shares the couple’s specific dietary restrictions (“we try to avoid sugar whenever possible”) as well as their favourite and least favourite meals.

“Alex really dislikes mashed potatoes,” Burns said of his wife.

Neighbours who can’t cook are asked to instead drop by and offer to walk the dog or clean some dishes. Burns also notes that in the event the couple doesn’t want to be disturbed, neighbours can drop meals off in the white cooler in their yard.

READ MORE: Edmonton woman quits Claire’s job after refusing to pierce crying 7-year-old’s ears

According to the Twitter user who shared the thread, the first response from a neighbour was a positive one.

Someone living nearby wrote, “hey neighbour! We live across the street with the crazy dog and three-year-old… we certainly know how tough this time can be and what a big transition it is so count on us for support!”

However, the response from the larger online community was not nearly as warm.

Twitter user @jasondunn wrote, “meal trains are great! Supporting new parents is great! But, uh, normally it’s the *friends* of the new parents that support them with a meal train. I have never, ever, seen anything as bizarrely entitled as this.”

And @taellosse said, “you don’t publicly ask for the kindness of strangers then provide a list of recipes sorted by preference.”

In an interview with the New York Post, Burns said he was shocked and disappointed that his request was being received so poorly.

“I apologize if it was taken the wrong way — and I’m frankly just very surprised and a little disheartened by … the response,” Burns said. “If they are not interested, then they don’t have to check that site or do anything. This is the world we live in.”

However, according to etiquette expert Lisa Orr, it’s understandable that people are irritated by the request.

“It definitely sounded like an entitled young couple who is going to be in for a rude awakening when the reality of parenting sets in,” Orr said. “We do have an etiquette, particularly in North America, around how new parents should ask for help.”

“Typically, the first step is that family and close friends offer, rather than new parents sending out a request for help.”

In Orr’s experience, it’s common for a friend or family member to take the lead, putting together a list of things that need to be prepared prior to the baby’s arrival.

“It almost becomes an extension of a baby shower as a way to support a new family,” she said.

“If expectant parents do ask for help in advance, it’s [usually] a personal request, not some mass email.”

WATCH BELOW: Texas baby born without skin tentatively diagnosed with rare condition





For Orr, expectant parents need to recognize that their friends and family didn’t make the choice to have a child — they did.

“As such, it’s their responsibility to figure it out,” Orr said. “If they do make a request for help, it should be in a way that shows their gratitude in advance for the support that is clearly above and beyond.”

According to Orr, expectant parents shouldn’t assume that friends, family or neighbours are going to help.

“Any support that they do receive is a gift that they should feel very fortunate to receive,” she said.

According to Orr, there are appropriate ways for expectant or new parents to ask for help — and this is not one of them. Here are some things to keep in mind if you find yourself in this situation.

Help is a two-way street

Showing respect is especially important if you need to lean on people you don’t know well, which can sometimes happen.

For parenting expert Ann Douglas, you should try to build your network in a way that moves beyond your need for help.

“Ideally, you’re going to be making this request of people with whom you already have an existing relationship, but if you’re new to a community, you might have to turn and ask people you don’t know particularly well (or at least not yet),” said Douglas.

“Social media makes it relatively easy to build community with friends of friends, so even if you only know a handful of people in your community, the network you can access via these friends of friends may actually be quite large.”

In Douglas’ view, it’s fine to lean on neighbours, but it shouldn’t be a one-way street.

“Sure, you might benefit from a casserole right now, while you’re trying to adjust to life with a newborn, but that neighbour down the street might benefit from some help with yard work in a few months’ time when they’re recovering from hip surgery,” she said.

Be clear about what you need

In your request, get straight to the point, but be accommodating.

In Orr’s view, the few people who offered to help at your baby shower are the perfect people to ask.

“For example, ‘If there’s any way you might be able to come by the house a few times for a few hours to watch the baby in the first month… that would really help us out. Please let me know if there are times that work for you,’” Orr said.

Working around their schedule shows you’re not taking them for granted.

READ MORE: Should kids wear life jackets or personal flotation devices? What one viral video is teaching parents

Douglas believes there’s a fine line between a request and a demand — and the difference is in the way you ask.

“There’s no point having your freezer full of casseroles that you can’t eat because they contain foods you’re allergic to or that you and your family simply don’t eat, but maybe you might want to give people a little bit of latitude,” Douglas said.

“If you’re too specific in your language, it might sound like you are placing an order rather than making a request.”

It’s as easy as stating your dietary issues but allowing the other person to choose their own recipe.

Be respectful and show gratitude

“The father-to-be suggested people could leave food in the cooler outside for those times when the new parents didn’t want guests… [but] etiquette would clearly require people to say ‘thank you’ when the gift of a homemade meal is arriving at your door,” said Orr.

By suggesting strangers could leave their cooking on the porch [or in a cooler] like a meal delivery service, Orr thinks Burns shows a “complete lack of gratitude.”

Instead of doing this, Burns should have made it an individual and personal request.

“Email, text or call are all fine,” said Orr.

After things have settled down, take them for coffee or write them a note to tell them how much you appreciated the help. If possible, return the favour or pay it forward.

“Every new parent can benefit from support, but if they’re going to ask, they should really ask politely,” said Orr — and Douglas agrees.

“It feels good to be part of a caring community of people who look out for one another. It’s all about nurturing that village along — or building that village from scratch.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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23Apr

Royal Family celebrates Prince Louis’ 1st birthday with adorable new photos – National

by BBG Hub

The youngest member of the Royal Family turned one on Tuesday, and proud parents Kate Middleton and Prince William released home photos for the occasion.

Kensington Palace tweeted three new pictures of Prince Louis on Monday evening, noting that the photos were taken by Middleton herself at the family’s home.

In two of the photos, one-year-old Louis is smiling while covered in grass, playing in the garden. In the third, the young prince is wearing a blue sweater with a puppy on it.

“The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are delighted to share three new photographs of Prince Louis ahead of his first birthday tomorrow,” the Palace tweeted.

“The photographs were taken earlier this month by The Duchess at their home in Norfolk.”

WATCH BELOW: The Royal Family follows some peculiar rules





Royal fans were quick to point out that Louis looks a lot like his older siblings, three-year-old Princess Charlotte and five-year-old Prince George.

People also commented that Louis resembles his mother, too.

This isn’t the first time that Middleton got behind the camera to take royal portraits.

The Duchess of Cambridge, 37, was the photographer behind Charlotte’s first birthday portraits, too. Middleton has also taken shots of her children to share with the family’s official social media accounts, including a snap of George on his first day of school.

READ MORE: ‘It is a huge responsibility’: Prince Harry and Oprah team up for new show on mental health

The Duchess’ photos often offer a candid look into her family’s private life, as they capture the children in less formal settings.

Louis may be the baby of the Royal Family for now, but he will soon become an older cousin to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry‘s child — who is due any day now.

READ MORE: Meghan Markle, Prince Harry break tradition with ‘private’ birthing plan

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have not revealed the name or sex of their child, but royal onlookers are betting on a girl.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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20Apr

‘All of us have come so far’: How to reconnect with family after a period of estrangement – National

by BBG Hub


Julia, whose name has been changed for privacy reasons, was away at university when her brother and her father had a falling out.

“My parents divorced when I was six, and Jim (whose name has also been changed) was four,” Julia said. “Jim and my dad always had a tricky relationship and would go through periods of estrangement growing up, but typically they would last no longer than a few weeks.”

Jim, then 16, was staying with his father and his stepmom while his mom and stepdad were away on vacation. That’s when he and his dad got into an argument.

READ MORE: ‘We’re perpetuating our own suffering’ — Why some people can’t let go of family grudges

“My dad called me at university and told me that Jim had left while he was in the shower, leaving a note for him explaining that he would be at our mom’s house, which was empty,” said Julia.

“My dad tried to call… but my brother wouldn’t answer the phone… [so my dad] called my mom to let her know what was happening and explain that he didn’t think it was appropriate for a 16-year-old to be alone for a week.”

Julia’s mom said she thought it was fine. Her father was furious, but he couldn’t do anything else.

“That was the beginning of the end, and they didn’t speak for the next eight years,” Julia told Global News.

READ MORE: ‘I have no regrets’ — What it’s like to be estranged from family

Jim and his father have since reconnected, but it was a slow and painful process that hurt them and the people close to them. Julia believes the divide was a large contributor to her generalized anxiety disorder.

“It was definitely a catalyst in forcing me to come to terms with my mental illness and to start working on healing and moving forward,” Julia said.

“It absolutely deepened a lot of the harmful patterns that I learned in childhood. Specifically, feeling like I had to play the role of peacekeeper and ‘fix’ my family’s issues, ensuring everyone was happy and contented before I could have a hope of feeling safe or remotely content myself.”

Julia says she often felt responsible for fixing the rift between her dad and brother, being one of the only people who still interacted with both of them.

Julia and her mother often had clashing opinions about the conflict, which led to estrangement on a smaller scale.

“I felt she was too easy on my brother, made too many excuses for his behaviour and constantly blamed and shamed my dad to me,” Julia said.

“We worked through it, but I don’t think my brother or dad ever really understood the extent to which their issues rippled throughout the rest of our fractured family.”

READ MORE: Choosing your own family members can be life-saving. Here’s why these Canadians did it

It’s not uncommon for a period of estrangement to have a lasting impact on a family, said psychologist Joshua Peters, who works at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships.

The trauma can be felt across generations and even by relatives who weren’t involved.

That’s why reconnecting can be tricky. Here’s how to establish a new connection (or even reconnect with someone) while protecting yourself.

Create strict boundaries for yourself

Those involved in these kinds of situations need to “honour themselves and not take on everybody else’s stuff,” said Andriana Mantas, a Toronto-based psychotherapist who specializes in family conflict.

This means thinking critically about if reconnecting is good for you — even if you weren’t one of the parties directly involved in the initial separation.

“There’s a lot of healing [to be done] and a lot of different emotions taking place. Things have changed, time has elapsed and different people have experienced different things,” Mantas explained.

If you decide to try and rebuild a relationship, it needs to be on your own terms.

According to Peters, it’s important to have an explicit conversation about your expectations of others post-reconnection — especially if you have other family members who don’t want to rebuild a relationship.

“Assure that individual that you will still love and care for them, regardless of what relationships they may decide to engage in,” Mantas said.

READ MORE: How to address sibling rivalry involving special needs kids

It was only when Julia removed herself from the situation with her brother and her dad that it started to improve.

“I actually ended up stepping away from feeling like I had to fix their relationship for my own sanity and health, which was a good thing,” Julia said.

“I learned their reconnecting really had to come from them.”

Go slowly

First, you need to determine if the desire to reconnect is mutual.

“Sending emails or reaching out via text or anything along those lines is probably a good way to start,” said Mantas.

After making initial contact, you can decide if reconnecting is truly in your best interest.

READ MORE: DNA test reveals 10 half-siblings across western Canada — ‘I always wanted a sister’

“It’s really about honouring yourself… as you get back into the groove,” Mantas said. “Clearly, what was taking place [before] was not working. How do you want to do things differently [this time]?”

For Mantas, there needs to be a focus on creating a healthy arrangement between all parties.

“If you meet in person… definitely do it in a neutral territory where everyone feels safe,” she said.

In Mantas’ experience, it’s best to set a time limit for yourself for initial meetings.

“Make sure you’re not there for two, three, four hours if you don’t want to be. It’s not a free for all,” she added.

READ MORE: Overcoming abuse — Here’s how children can be affected by family violence

A casual, unplanned reconnection is what worked best for Julia’s family.

“It didn’t happen all at once, but slowly, they started speaking casually,” she said.

“I remember one Christmas a few years ago, when they seemed to be on the precipice of connecting, I made a childlike Christmas ‘wish’ that they would make up. They started talking that Christmas again, and it felt like magic.”

Reconnecting doesn’t work for everyone

Readiness is key. If you don’t feel ready to confront your family or the traumatic events that occurred, don’t do it.

“Everyone experiences trauma differently. It could easily bring up some triggers,” said Mantas.

If that happens, know that you can decide you no longer want to have a conversation with someone about past ills.

“You’re allowed to stop the conversation and say, ‘At this time, I prefer not to speak about this,’” she added.

READ MORE: When parents fight — The pros and cons of arguing in front of your kids

For Peters, sitting in tension can actually help you figure out if you’re ready to reconnect with someone.

“Understand that this person is both someone who has hurt you and that you may need to protect yourself from them but… also [that they’re] someone that you can see with empathy,” said Peters.

If you can do that, it may be time for you to find a safe space to reconnect with them. Just remember things may not go smoothly.

“Don’t force it,” said Mantas. “Make sure things don’t just go back to the way they were… because that wasn’t working.”

Remember that you have a choice. If revisiting the trauma is too difficult for you, then you don’t need to do it.

“Ask yourself whether this person is truly aligned with your values,” Mantas said.

Julia’s situation has improved, but her brother will still periodically disconnect from the rest of her family, which can be trying.

“I think he does that when things aren’t going well for him and he doesn’t know how to deal with it or ask for help,” said Julia.

READ MORE: 7 popular — yet tricky parenting questions answered

Earlier this year, Julia sent Jim an e-gift for Christmas and never heard anything back. Then, last week, Jim commented on one of Julia’s Instagram posts.

“It hurts, but I’m used to it now, and it’s better than no relationship,” Julia said.

“All of us have come so far. Reconnecting isn’t always the right thing, but for us, both the estrangement and the wounds gave us all a chance to expose and heal. It wouldn’t hurt so much if we didn’t love so much. So that’s something.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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