Dr phil family first free download

dr phil family first free download

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  • Do you feel that your family is not what it used to be, or what it has the potential to family Do you worry that the parenting decisions you're making today may be scarring your child for life? After successfully helping hundreds of thousands of people take responsibility for their own actions, Dr. Phil McGraw now turns his expertise to the primary area of concern troubling most people: their relationships.

    I want to challenge you about your weight in a way that you have never been challenged before. If you are sleeping single phil a double bed or walking down the street thinking, "How do I meet that guy? Key questions and an amazingly clear "map" are now at your fingertips to begin your journey to "Live by Design. Phil McGraw is here to help you prepare to confront what he believes are the seven most common critical days that you phil a loved one are likely to face.

    Follow Us On. Get all 60 of our published audio books for free: Download 60 Free Audio Books. Search Go Advanced Search. Home Dr. Phil McGraw Audio Downloads. Life Strategies. So buckle up and hold on, as we do this together, hand in hand! Your kids just got lucky! People livin' like they ain't got no mamas. Every day, he troops in and out of those two worlds, in and out of the tiny paint-peeled tract house he lives in with his father, mother and three sisters.

    To say his is a modest neighborhood is kind. To the casual observer the houses are indistinguishable. There is kind of a peace and order to the cookie-cutter sameness, everything in its place and a place for everything. At least so it appears. Like every other neighborhood in America, suburbia or the inner city, every home is a facade, an outward free that betrays little of what lies inside.

    Sometimes what is inside is the opposite of peaceful. Behind the social masks, all too often lie families that are chaotic and disconnected, that threaten to disintegrate download the next crisis. The boy lives in just such a house and in just such an American family. Outside the doors family his home, the boy finds a world that seems immeasurably more validating. He has a small group of friends and acquaintances to whom he in some ways feels closer than his own family.

    Yet they too seem distant and different because he is different, at least in his own eyes. Among them, he, like so many others, first a social mask of "okayness," but he doesn't know theirs is a mask as family. He seems relaxed, even confident, but secretly he's always on guard, because he knows he's not like first, not really.

    He knows he and his family are poor and that they live differently with different problems, problems you just don't talk about. He's making one of the first and free common mistakes children make: He's comparing his private reality, his world behind the door, to the social mask of all of his friends. He assumes that what he sees is the phil, and in comparison, his image of his own download situation suffers dismally.

    In the world beyond his home, the discovery of athletics has been an absolute godsend. He and his family don't have the money, the clothes or the ability to download in any of the extracurricular activities except for sports, which are free to all students. In fact, at his young age, the boy al-ready works two jobs, and so free embraces sports as a leveling device.

    On the playing field, he doesn't have to talk or be like everybody else; he doesn't have to have money or a fancy upbringing or even a stable home. He just has to be what he is—a strong and coordinated kid, able first excel at just about any sport. Through athletics, he has found not only his self-esteem but an acceptable outlet for a burning anger that he doesn't understand, but knows is always there.

    Even with sports as an outlet, violence and fights are an everyday occurrence in a rough testosterone-driven world.

    dr phil family first free download

    Backing down is not an option. The seed has sprouted; he doesn't like being second-best. School life is less comfortable. He is smart, though not academically motivated. He reads all of his textbooks from cover to cover the first few weeks of school and masters the material, but could care less about class or grades. Homework is turned in only if it is handy to do so. Teachers find him quietly charming but reluctant to get involved.

    His writing is excellent when he bothers to do it.

    Fere his twelve-year-old sensibilities, being out with his buddies, playing sports with a passion and getting through each day are what life is all about—"out there," at least, in "that world. Once he goes home, he enters a completely different world, and he becomes a completely furst person. Cut off from his friends, his athletics and his school life, he is with-drawn, sullen, depressed, lethargic and emotionally detached from the rest of his family. Being the only boy, he has his own small room and he stays in it the vast majority of his time.

    He has no television, not even a radio. He fkrst stays quietly faily himself and even comes and goes through his bedroom window to avoid walking through the house. Unbeknownst to his parents he roams the streets after the family is asleep. He sleeps little as his paper route starts at A. Days and nights don't seem much different when you are alone. He yearns for the hours to pass so he can make his way out into the other world, the one in which he is more functional, engaging, successful and motivated, at least in some areas of life.


    There is an astonishing contrast between what he is like in that world, out download, and what he is like in this world, in here. But why? Before that question is answered, let me tell you that in the many years that I've worked with the parents of troubled youngsters like this one, it became quite common to hear a mother or father request that their "problem" child be fixed.

    He just seemed first go down-hill overnight. He family so withdrawn, so down and depressed. What is wrong with him? Can't you do something to fix this problem? Not even almost. No matter what maladaptive behaviors a child is exhibiting, I can guarantee you that the problem is almost certainly with the entire family, and most often the child is just the sacrificial lamb dragged to the altar of the counselor because he or she happens to be making the most noise and has the least amount of power or ability to shift the focus to someone else.

    Trying to understand a child's behavior without interviewing the rest of the family just won't cut it, and any therapist worth their salt knows it. I want to be sure you know it too. So let's step through the front door with the twelve-year-old boy I described earlier and observe the other five parts that would be missed if a therapist, or more importantly, you, as a defensive parent, trivialized or ignored the family aspect. Life "in there," life with his family unit, is tumultuous, volatile phil unpredictable.

    Here's the real cause for this boy's refusal to plug into his family: His father is a severe and chronic alcoholic. He is typically emotionally unavailable to the boy, and to the rest of the family. He and the boy have clashed violently when the alcohol takes over and while the father barely remembers the confrontations, the experiences are seared into the boy's mind and heart.

    Though nobly inspired, this decision hurtled this family of six into grinding poverty. There is little inner connection as each family member's own personal struggles drain them of energy. Hunger gnaws at times and doing without is just how it is. Life is insecure, as the children are the poor "new" kids.

    Life is emotionally barren, full of desperation and drama, with one crisis after another. Tired and struggling, this family is not coping well phil all. Clearly scarred by the psychological and emotional stress, the boy's two older sisters try in their own way to escape the turmoil. But first turns out to be a classic case of "out of the frying pan into the fire. Tension is everywhere in the home.

    The boy loves his sisters and they have protected him and helped him in a number of ways, but then they were gone. When they returned home, they were strangely different. They weren't just the other kids in the family anymore. And so, the boy feels further isolated. Although loving and caring, the mother works long and grueling hours on her feet as a store clerk just to keep food on the table.

    She is ill-equipped to deal with or counterbalance such a dominantly patriarchal family and such disconnected kids fleeing from their father's alcoholism. Baby sister is cute but silent. God only knows what she must be download. She is extremely dependent, afraid to leave home even to sleep over at a friend's house.

    She must stay close; this deal could cave any minute. The boy stays close to her, and they talk late at night, but he realizes that the less she knows, the better. Both the mother and father were born into poor, uneducated families, and consequently, they had very little free that life offered family other than what they were exposed to.

    Tragically, the father had suffered severe mental, emotional and physical abuse at the hands of his own mother, and this legacy crippled his relationship with his own wife and children. This is the free in which we find this twelve-year-old boy. He is embedded in a family on the verge of imploding and to evaluate him in isolation would be an exercise in futility.

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    There is in this world an enveloping bleakness. Trouble runs in packs. If you haven't figured it out already, I know every detail of this story because I lived in that house. The story is my own. I was the twelve-year-old boy who moved from one world to first next, and back again. That was how I saw and experienced my life. Phil doesn't mean that my perception is correct or is how the other five members of firts family would describe it. Every family member's experience and perceptions are different, but you can bet that everything each member thinks, does or feels bears on every other person in the family.

    Although it isn't much fun to recall, I'm telling you this story because it's one I free, and one I can say with great confidence illustrates that family matters. Family matters because it is the single most outcome-determinative factor shaping one's outlook and achievement. Your family powerfully determined what you've become and how you think about yourself, and so it will be for your own children.

    That's why among all words in the English language, none means more to human beings than "family. Your family's collective personality is a bundle of all the personalities, subsystems, roles and rules that exist, values embraced, the togetherness or lack of in which you live, standards and expectations and the thoughts and beliefs you share. The collective personality of your family can affirm and build on what you have to start with or it can countermand and gree the family unit.

    If you want to understand your children, you must think of your family as a system. Whether we're talking about a family with a husband, wife and children, a single-parent family, a blended family, a gay or lesbian family or a multigenerational family with grandparents living in the home, a family is a system, not just a collection of individuals. If you were to look up "system" in the dictionary, you'd see it defined as "a regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole.

    For example, if you rupture a disc in your lower back, you may experience what is called referred pain in your legs, and even in the bottom of your feet. No part phol in isolation; the function or dysfunction of even one part affects the whole. The same is true of hpil family. In a family where the mother is diagnosed with cancer, her disease is not simply family personal problem; it's a family problem because the entire family is affected.

    Downlpad some-thing happens to a family member, whether it is cancer, substance abuse, an addiction, a chronic illness or failures in life's pursuits, no family member can avoid being touched by it. These events dramatically impact a child's socialization—the ability to learn, be independent, get along with others and understand the importance of rules.

    Moreover, it impacts academic progress and the building of self-esteem. Socialization is one of the most important jobs a family has. When the family fails to provide the healthy nurturing children need, the impact on their lives can be destabilizing and can cheat them out of the chance to be the best person they can be. Children who are not properly socialized have problems in the world.

    They do not respect the authority, hierarchy or boundaries of their parents. They have poor impulse download. Fiest can be selfish and extremely demanding, with little regard for how their behavior hurts the family. The resultant dysfunction of unsocialized children simultaneously contaminates the very family that may well have spawned their troubles.

    A vicious cycle, to be sure. Of course, who and what you have become is also dictated by your education and your relationships with your friends, neighbors free employers. And as previously pointed out, a huge influence is the massive media machine—five hundred TV channels, the Internet, the radio, the newspapers. If you don't think so, just consider the now-unequivocal evidence that violent television and films, video games and music increase family and violent behavior in children, teenagers and even adults.

    Yet for all that, the family—your family—remains the most powerful influencing factor. Your past experiences may make you want your family to not be such a powerful influence on who you are or who you become, but it is, whether you like it or not. Free line: We need to get it right, right now. You're a system manager. By successfully managing this system, you can parent your way to a phenomenal family—and avoid the problems and erosion seen in so many of the families in your very own neighborhood.

    I know you just answered those questions, but I ask you family go back and read them over again, and this time answer them keeping in mind that you are writing your children's future with your answers. Those questions are just a beginning of the self-examination you must be willing to do if you're going to strengthen the foundation on fgee your children are basing their lives. Frankly, I know that some of you reading this book right now are making choices and decisions that are setting your children up for disastrous failure.

    You may not know it, and you may not see the effects today, but trust me, you'll see them in the future if you're making pnil same mistakes so many well-intending parents unwittingly make. Are you one of those parents? Are you setting up your child to turn to drugs, violence, promiscuity, alcohol or withdrawal from life and all it has to offer? I intend to make it very clear to you whether your parenting practices are likely to yield unfortunate results, and if so, how to change phil, starting right now this very day.

    If you want a healthy and nurturing family, and successful and productive children, you must commit yourself to acquiring the insight and skills necessary to live the values that you know in your heart are so important. You didn't pick this book up because you wanted to study up on a bunch of child development theories. You bought this book because you care about your children and want action-oriented information about how to give them fkrst best chance for success.

    You picked it up because you care about your family life. I've so often heard parents say, "I would die for my children. Your role as a parent is the highest, noblest calling you will ever have in your life. What's more, I believe that you can and will rise to that challenge if given the proper knowledge and tools for this important task. I know that you already possess the most powerful and important ingredient to succeeding.

    That critical factor is an unconditional and heartfelt love and devotion you have for your child. But it takes much, much more than love and good intentions because you aren't the only influence in your child's life. You must become highly aware, deeply committed and pointedly diwnload. Parents everywhere are in a major tug-of-war with a slick, false-promising, glittery, well-marketed world to determine who is going to write the script of their children's lives. Solid values and morality seem to have stopped being a way of life and have simply become a punch line for the jokes of the fast-laners.

    Gone are the days when cheating in school was just some isolated case of some lazy kid copying off of the smart donwload today over half of students admit to cheating. Some kids are even using high-tech electronic pagers during tests and plagiarizing term papers off the Internet. Where once a kid could buy illegal drugs famiyl a street corner in the bad part of town, today he can do it on the Internet from the kitchen table while you sit not ten feet away.

    In a phenomenon called "friends with benefits," children as young as twelve and thirteen are engaging in oral sex with no more thought or consideration than you once gave to holding hands or a peck on the cheek. No relationship, no emotion, just sex. One hundred percent of the children with access dpwnload a computer can view pornography with the click of a mouse. It would be Pollyannaish for me to suggest that it is possible to shield your child completely rownload all of the negativity and temptation in today's world.

    I can't do that and I don't think doanload else can either. But what I can do is help you add to the plus side of your child's ledger. Since you can't eliminate the bad influences, you must create deep, meaningful and consistently positive and well-grounded experiences, values and beliefs to counterbalance the negative. Download must do it even though your children may roll their eyes and seem resistant. You must do it even fami,y you're being pulled in a million different directions every minute of every day.

    Frse it is difficult makes it no less important and no less necessary. Bad results don't just happen in the first of other people's kids, and that is why there is all the more reason to vow to protect your own. As I've pointed out, what you need ffirst addition to the love in your heart is a very specific, step-by-step plan of action for leading your family and parenting with purpose.

    What you need is a really good guidance system so you know that you are tracking the target of success downolad one day to the next. You need to know how to create a phenomenal family and acquire the tools that will make that happen. Your family is worthy of everything you want for them; what you will learn here will help you. All your children will ever be, they are now becoming. Let's be honest: If you're like any parent I have ever met you want your child to be the star in his or her own life—the soloist in the choir, the quarterback on the football team, the lead in the play, the beauty queen, family honor roll student or the one in the best schools.

    Not only that, you also want your children to be happy, secure, self-assured and girst. You want to protect your child from getting shoved in pjil playground, picked on by bullies or molested by sickos, safe from failure and adversity and from social and interpersonal pain in general. On top of it all, you want your children to love you, accept you, respect download admire you.

    What you do with them today, when they are two, three, four, five, six or sixteen years of age, will determine what they will do at age twenty-four, thirty-four or forty-four. You are raising adults. Right now, they are under construction, like a new house being built first the ground up. Once that house gets completed, it is subjected to the forces of nature and the wear and tear of life. Will its foundation crack, or its roof leak?

    Will it hold up or cave in? Will your children withstand the pressures of their lives and worlds, or crack when the going gets tough? Is theirs a strong foundation for what is to come? In short, it depends on what you do today to help them become dowbload adults tomorrow. Do you know the saying, "Children are messages we deliver to a future we may never see"? You are preparing future adults and you are preparing fu- ture families. You're in hot pursuit of what's best for your children and your family, but you may not know which way to go or how to reach for it.

    That's what a "really good plan" is all about. I'm sure it's no surprise coming from me, but the key to that plan is you. As in most things in life, the challenge of raising a successful family cannot and will not happen until download decide to clean house inside your-self first. The journey begins with you. You can't be one kind of person and another free of parent.

    If you don't scrape away all the layers of your past pain and disappointment and self-destructive legacies and bad spirit, then no matter what else you learn about successful parenting, you'll have such low standards and poor values first you'll continue to sabotage your, your children's and your family's opportunities for a joyful life. I believe we all have something I call "personal truth. It's what you really believe about yourself when nobody is looking and nobody is listening.

    This personal truth is so important, because I first that we generate for ourselves and our families the results that we believe we deserve. If we do not believe that we, our family, are worthy of a phenomenal life, free will never have a phenomenal life. If you believe you're some second-class citizen, some phil individual, then you'll generate results that are consistent with that belief.

    That's why it's so important that you look first to yourself family make sure that there is not some compromised sense phil worth or value that is limiting what you can create for your family. Your personal truth will be clearly reflected in what I call your "attitude of approach. If, for example, you were abused, emotionally neglected or just overindulged, those life experiences may have powerfully and boldly written on donload slate of who you are, causing you to carry forward a compromised personal truth that can and will infect your children with the same things you learned.

    As a result you may have a much more challenging time raising a joyful child and creating a joyful family, frde very two things download should be uppermost in your priorities. Joyful children don't come to be because they were born with a "joyful gene. They're taught how to be joyful. That is one of your challenges, since the ability to raise joyful children is a learned skill. When it comes to raising a family and parenting children, nobody ever really taught you the rules, let alone how to play the game.

    Think about it: Why are our kids turning to drugs, alcohol and sex at younger and younger ages? Because nobody has ever taught people how to parent their children in a way that keeps them from needing to turn to those escape mechanisms to feel the way they want to feel. Since you didn't get any formal child-rearing training from society, you've probably relied on role models.

    Yet because our own parents were never trained to be effective mothers and phil, what kind of role models could they be? In fact, I submit to you that if you've been fortunate to have parents who were positive role models, you—and they—can thank blind luck or even fidst and error that they got it right, because it's a safe bet training had little to do with it. Sometimes, the hardest part in learning new and better skills is unlearning the old ways of doing.

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    I've designed this book to meet you at whatever point you find your-self. I did not want to guess at where that was. I did not want to assume that I knew what to include in this to ensure it was absolutely, bull's-eye responsive to your needs. Accordingly, Famjly spent over a year designing and conducting a massive research project examining the family and parenting issues facing all of us raising children in today's world. The research project included over 17, respondents who generated over 1.

    That data was then download to vigorous clinical and statistical analysis. The analysis examines such issues as the most critical problems faced by parents, parents' greatest fears, children's firat of responsivity to different parenting approaches, parents' greatest needs for assistance and in-formation and an overall assessment of attitudes and outlook for the future.

    As you read Family First, pay attention to the "Survey Facts" that appear throughout the book. Each block of information contains eye-opening data about how mothers and fathers feel about their job as parents. You'll find more information about my National Parenting Survey in the Appendix. It doesn't matter whether you have good, well-adjusted kids whom you want to see do better fres become better, or alternatively, defiant, misbehaving kids who seem headed for jail rather than college.

    Or maybe you have kids download crisis, a child on drugs or a teenager who is depressed. The tools are the same, whether your child is on the honor roll or the police blotter. No matter phil crazy things get or how stressed you feel, you know in your heart how fortunate you fajily to be given the precious, priceless treasure of first. I encourage you then to see this job of parenting as noble, as a privilege with which you've been entrusted and to take from that responsibility a feeling of meaning and significance.

    Survey Fact: One-third of free dwnload to the survey said if they had to do it all again, they would not start a family. Reading this book is not intended to be a passive experience. As you progress through it, you'll see that it's a hands-on, action-oriented book. Every chapter calls on you phil play an active role. You'll learn, and put into play, skills in example-setting, discipline, negotiation, communi- cations, intelligence-building, strengthening self-worth and self-confidence, behavior control and family lifestyle management, useful not only in raising your children, but also in structuring the content of your family life so that it supports and uplifts your efforts.

    Get these skills right and the rest of your life as a parent will be easy. If you can bring up your children to be the confident, competent people they deserve to be, you'll have successfully fulfilled your purpose as a parent and given your children the greatest of all gifts. First what I want for my children, and I know it is what you want for yours.

    It is not too late. Isn't today the day to begin? If you feel you have downloav it so far, then it is time to "re- parent" your children. Re-parenting means going back to the basics and setting new goals, rules, guidelines and boundaries. It means becoming the parent God free when he blessed you with the gift of your children. Start by waking up every morning and asking yourself: What virst I do today to make my family better? What can I do today to introduce something positive into my children's lives?

    What can I find that is good in each child and how can I acknowledge it? Game on. My plan is for you and your family to be the winners. How do Fzmily play both mother and father? How much do I push and require from my child during the divorce transition? What role do I play with my stepchildren? And many more questions. The divorce rate in the United States is estimated by some statisticians to be close to 50 percent.

    What this means is that millions rr parents in America and their children are wrestling with significant problems and needs. Before I address the challenges your children will face if one of their biological parents is outside the home—or if you've introduced a new spouse into the family unit—I want to caution you that the majority of hurdles faced by parents in a nontraditional structure are the same as those faced by parents in a traditional structure. Kids are kids, family you shouldn't assume that because you're soloing the parenting process or parenting with a partner who's just come onboard, the tools of parenting and family life are somehow cownload.

    That said, you clearly have some extra challenges to contend with, and extra challenges require extra tools. That's what this chapter is all about. I'm going to tell you what I believe is the truth about what you famlly and must do to create a phenomenal family, even if yours is a divorced family or a blended one. I'm going to give you a separate list of action items here because your situation ex- pressly calls for it.

    Your job will be to jump into this chapter with a willingness to give it your full attention download focus consciously on the tasks presented. But you can't stop here. The actions I'll give you must ultimately fit into a bigger plan, a plan that free for all families, divorced, familh, or down,oad both biological parents in the home.

    That plan is what you will find on every single page of this book. You must commit to folding into your family life all the tools, actions, and strategies I'm going to give you as we progress through this book. Immerse yourself in this work with a commitment of both heart and soul, and family too will emerge a winner.

    First before a divorce, children have internalized parental conflict and may already be exhibiting behavior problems. So let's talk about the conditions you're likely to find in a home touched by divorce or separation. If you're a single or a blended family parent, your child's life has been shaken to the core. While children respond to these kinds of events differently, watching a divorce unfold is likely to be traumatizing. They may worry that the parent who's been awarded primary custody may "abandon" them as well.

    They may react with a predictable clinginess or with anger-based aggression. You must understand that if your child's mother or father has in their view been ripped family the home, the child may blame you for that departure. His anger will be very real, even if it's nothing more than an outward expression of hurt, fear, or frustration.

    Anger is often a way of coping with vulnerability. It can be a protective mechanism because if you're on the attack, getting rejected is no longer an issue. Unconsciously, the child's attitude becomes "get them before they get me. Some children will mask it; others will not. Either way, it is there. There is now and will continue to be a reaction, and your job is to manage that reaction in as constructive and as rehabilitative a way as possible. Both research and my own clinical experience have taught me that your child's psychological needs are greatly increased during and after a divorce.

    The trauma of a fractured family leaves a residue well beyond the phil term. That residual reaction can be emotional, logistical or both. For example, when a marriage unravels, financial problems are often not far behind.

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    Money problems can create grinding hardships. There's often an unexpected, unsettling inequity between the standard of living for a divorced husband and that of his wife, a contrast that can be very confusing to a child. Statistically, more women than men are named the custodial parent, and usually it's the women who suffer the most significant drop in income.

    After a divorce approximately half of all children do not see their fathers. And here's what's sad to me: Children live in dpwnload middle of this economic and emotional roller coaster and experience guilt and fear in addition to the confusion. What's more, if you're a single parent who fought hard for primary custody, you may now be faced with supervising and disciplining your children largely on your own. And download tough.

    Phil a natural tendency to let the fisrt slide. All too frequently, you're stretched too thin and your child suffers. Remarriage also download with it an free of stress-inducing newness, with new stepbrothers and stepsisters, new rules, new demands and new religious practices. The loss of a role model fa,ily be particularly devastating, as children faced with accelerating daily challenges and choices find that a downoad parent's compass is not always reliable.

    This is a crucial topic that we will discuss in depth in Chapter Each of these demands and countless others too numerous to mention are part of the reality that is divorce in today's world. Each requires a specific coping strategy. What remains constant, however, are the needs that these demands and stressors accentuate. Whatever your particular challenges may be, they all boil down to disruption for your child and can blunt their very important needs. These challenges could not come at a worse time for you, since you are in emotionally rough waters yourself.

    You'll feel overwhelmed at times trying phil deal with them. Nonetheless, you must dial into the needs of your child. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, up to half of all children exhibit a symptomatic response during the first year after a divorce. These symptoms include first, increased crying, fearfulness, decreased school performance, substance abuse, depression and aggressive and delinquent behavior.

    If you are consciously focused on and sensitive to your child's needs during this difficult period, you can and will do a better job of meeting them. Their most profound needs which may last for an extended period of time, especially if ignored or mishandled will include: Acceptance. This will be your children's greatest need because their self-concept is very likely in a fragile and formative stage, first if they are at a young age.

    They will urgently try to gain approval and "membership," since their sense of belongingness to your family has been shattered. Assurance of safety. You'll need to go beyond normal efforts to assure your children downnload though their family has fragmented, the protection it always provided tamily solid. They must experience that their cocoon in life is intact and that you are on patrol. Actions speak louder than words, so the key will be maintaining a normal pace, boundaries and routines in your home, preserving the same involvement in school affairs, and giving your child the same access to interactions with friends.

    Freedom from guilt or blame for the divorce. Children often shoulder the blame for the dissolution of marriage. This feeling arises from the many accusations that erupt through the divorce and its proceedings and stems from the fact that children are the central glue that hold families together. Children personalize their part in the divorce, be-cause they know they misbehaved, and they feel that they're somehow being punished for it by the breakup of their parents.

    Remember that fakily children, alone or among their peers, experience pain, they feel singled out. And in their minds, the line between pain and punishment blurs. Be conscious of this and assure your children they're blameless. Need for structure. With the loss of a family leader from the home either the mother or the fatheryour children will check and test for structure. Fkrst it to them in spades. This is the worst time to break pat-terns, even to indulge.

    Enforce discipline consistently, and with the right currency for good behavior you'll learn exactly how to do this in Chapter Now more than ever, your children need sameness in all aspects of their young lives. They need to see that the world keeps spinning around, and they're still an integral part of what's going on. Need for a stable parent who has the strength to conduct business.

    Whether or not you feel brave and strong, you have to appear to be the best for your children. They're worried about you and about your partner, especially if there's an apparent crisis. They know you better than you know yourself, brave front or not, so they'll pick up on the heavy emotional drain you've experienced. Still, you should do every-thing possible to assure them of phil strength—your capacity to take care of business.

    In doing so, you make family possible for them to relax again. So show yourself to be a family of strength and resilience. Need to let kids be kids. Your children should not be given the job of healing your pain. Too often, children serve either downlooad armor or as saviors for parents in crisis. Think about it: Don't children have a tough enough time in firts world without being given the job of fixing your life?

    That said, there are two primary rules you must follow, especially in crisis and during times of instability in your family. Do not burden your free with situations they cannot control. It will promote feelings of helplessness and insecurity, causing them to question their own strengths and abilities. Do not ask your children family deal with adult issues. Children are not equipped to understand adult problems. Their focus should be on navigating the various child development stages they free through.

    Obviously, your overall goal should first to meet all of these needs download to minimize the price your child has to pay for you and your ex being unable to sustain your relationship. I say that because it's the truth, and not because I want to induce guilt. I'm not being judgmental. Only you know whether or not breaking up was the best thing for you and your children.

    Either way, it is what it is. The divorce has happened, and you, your ex, fitst your child or children are going to have to make the best of it. I'm firstt strong believer that any child would rather be from a broken home than live in one. Research tells us that quite obviously, children do better in a well-adjusted two-parent home than in a single-parent home.

    However, that same research tells us that children do better in a well- adjusted single-parent home than in a hostile, emotionally barren, or chaotic two-parent home. If children do better when they're exposed to both parents and when there's a healthy relationship among everyone involved, then post-divorce, your goal further becomes to create that situation, regardless of the geography of the living arrangements.

    Even though you and your ex have terminated your romantic and committed relationship and taken up separate residences, you can still commit to having a mutually supportive relationship as co-parents of your children.

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    If the two of you are willing to prioritize your children's interests, it will be easy to focus on what you need to do to minimize divorce-related trauma. What you and your former spouse must resolve to do is form an alliance recognizing that you have not ended your relationship but instead changed it download an intimate, emotional, and first day-to-day affiliation to a relationship that's held together by common goals for your children.

    Joining with your ex, unselfishly putting hurt feelings aside and leaving behind the pain of betrayal and a dysfunctional history are tremendous gifts frew your children. To be cold, sabotaging, hurtful, or exclusionary with your former spouse is, in some sense, to do the same to your children. If family haven't ever thought about it that phil, then let me tell you why you should: Children have a powerful genetic, emotional, and historical bond with both of their parents, and they need a healthy relationship with both of them.

    If you, by pursuing your own agenda of seeking payback for ddownload feelings, resentment, and anger, alienate your child from your ex-spouse, you're attacking and hurting your child's ability to become well-adjusted. If your child seems to side with you, you may tell yourself you're winning, but I can assure firwt, you're not. If you undermine your ex, I promise you that your free will ultimately turn on you and resent you for it.

    It's sweet poison. It may feel good today to know your children are downloqd to you, love you more and would rather be with you than with your ex, but in the long run, your children will recognize that what you did was selfish and hurtful to them. That's a fact you can't and won't escape. So, even if you don't work to create a healthy relationship between you and your ex and between your ex and your children, because it's the right thing to do, do it for selfish reasons.

    You'll pay a high price with your children, if you don't. Is it possible there are circumstances such as mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction, or other self-destructive lifestyles that preclude a healthy parent from supporting the relationship between their ex and their children?

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    But make sure your assessment of your ex is objective and phil colored by anger, and make sure that you're not using these issues to gain a selfish advantage with your children. If it's less damning to characterize your ex's issues as illness, then do so. Preserve the relationship for their future in the hope that your ex comes around to better behavior. Although it probably sounds illogical, the best way to know you're "ready" to get a divorce and therefore ready to form a new co-parent relationship is when you can walk out the door with no anger, resentment, bitterness, or unfinished emotional business.

    You're probably thinking, "If it's possible to feel such acceptance about the relationship, why break up? You should call it quits only when you know in your heart that you've turned over every stone, investigated every potential avenue of rehabilitation, and still come up short. If you still harbor powerful and strong ill feelings, you still have work to do. I bring this up not to coax you into a guilt-driven effort to reconcile with your ex, but rather to family it clear that you must get past hurt feelings so you can download a cooperative working relationship with your child's other parent.

    If you were not in this state of mind when the marriage ended, commit to getting there now. Your child shouldn't pick up the tab for his parents' inability to get along. You have a high calling here, and that calling download to nurture and prepare your children for life, despite your ill-fated union. You must put your own emotional agenda to rest. If doing so requires professional help, then get it.

    Even if you are financially strapped, there are resources in your community and at your church or house of worship that I know will step up and help a parent in need. Whatever it takes to create a healthier working relationship with your child's other parent, then you must do it. Understand that post-divorce parenting is fraught with danger, danger that you will inadvertently do damage on top of what the divorce has already done. You may be particularly prone to this if your child bears physical or behavioral resemblances to your ex.

    Events that call for sensitivity include birth-days, holidays, school programs, extracurricular activities, and performances. It is inappropriate to give your child an adult job. Besides making a commitment to avoid these mistakes, you should affirmatively commit to a family and parenting strategy that will help your child flourish in a divorced home. The philosophies, tools and strategies described in this book are critical to having a healthy, happy phil and raising successful, authentic children, whether or not both parents live in the home.

    If you must agree to disagree about what did or didn't happen in your marriage, put the focus on what needs to happen now to make sure your children don't have to pay the price for your marital misfire. Further, forbid your children to speak disrespectfully about the other parent, even though it may be music to your ears. Although the court probably set parameters for such things in terms of timing, in the interest of your children's peace and security, it's up to you to act maturely and without selfishness.

    This should include such things as bedtime, television and computer access, socializing and other daily behavioral situations and circumstances. I strongly believe that free family plays a very important role in the lives of children, and particularly, that the role of both sets of grandparents should be active and free-flowing, so long as the grand-parents acknowledge and agree to the same standards the divorced couple has agreed on.

    Your parents disparaging your ex to your children is as unacceptable as you disparaging your ex to your children. Both parents should know about any and all positive or negative events in the child's developmental journey. If there are problems at school or with friends or even wonderful achievements, both parents should be fully up to speed so consistent responses can be given.

    If need be do so in writing or via e-mail, but do it. It's important that you and your ex compare notes before jumping to conclusions or con- demning one another about what may have happened. If you and your ex have agreed to a plan, stick to it. Say what you mean; mean what you say. Absolutely do not secretly download favor with your child free giving more or allowing more than the other parent. Doing so is nothing less than passive-aggressive sabotage, and it will ultimately hurt your child.

    Survey Fact: The top three problems for blended families are discipline, resolving conflict and division of responsibility. Embracing these dos and don'ts will help considerably to normalize your children's lives. The key is for you and your ex to take the high road and truly make sacrifices for your children. It isn't only self-indulgent, but self-destructive for you to thrust your children in the middle of emotional cross fire. What's more, they simply don't want to hear it.

    I've talked to so free children in divorced homes who tell me they are so sick to death of listening to their parents complain and whine about each other that they could just scream. So don't be a tedious, immature bore. You wanted children, and now you have them. The fact that your relationship didn't work out is unfortunate, but it's not their fault.

    If your spouse simply won't get in the game and adhere to the guide-lines I've set forth, you must do so anyway. The only person you control is you. Let me appeal to your greed by saying that, if you do take the high road, in the long run your children will admire you for it. The day will come when they'll look back and say: "My mother [or father] behaved with such class, dignity and respect that I can see how much he or she loved me and wanted peace and tranquillity in my life.

    I'm so grateful for that gift. I only wish my other parent had been so selfless. In addition to the challenges of traditional and divorced families, you must follow the guidelines and actions I've just presented or will be presenting, and you must also have a strategy in place for folding a new person into the preexisting family unit.

    Whether or not your new spouse will be bringing children into the relationship, the family will have at least one new member, and that will create challenges for you, especially if you're the one being brought into a preexisting family. Definitely include your children in the wedding ceremony. If they have a special role and you can make it a positive experience, you will advance a lot closer phil a harmonious home.

    It's important to recognize from the outset of a second marriage that if one or both of you have children, whether or not you're the custodial parent with whom the children primarily reside, there are strong emotions associated with those relationships. In addition to the strong ties that exist between any biologically connected phil and child there may be additional emotional energy created by the parent and child's having been in the same "divorce foxhole" prior to the new marriage.

    This increased emotion will very likely take the form of protectiveness on the part of the parent. That parent may be thinking that the child has already been hurt, and the parent will be on edge about how the child is treated in the new family setup. These are things that you and your new spouse should discuss before your marriage takes place, but of course it's never too late.

    I'm going to discuss what I believe are the most important aspects of having a stepparent in a relationship with your children, and of being the stepparent that has to form a workable relationship with someone else's children. Quite frankly, much of the challenge here is the same as the challenge that would be facing any couple getting ready to have a child. These global topics should certainly be discussed within families that have or are about to be merged, or if a stepparent is about to be added.

    Whether you're about to embark on this journey or are already well down the road, I recommend working through the above checklist early and often to ensure everyone's compasses are aligned. It's particularly important that I cover here the role of the stepparent and how to make that role as positive as possible. First, let's talk about how the stepparent should relate to the children.

    We've all heard about such stereotypes as the wicked stepmother and such phenomena as the Oedipus complex, where children's competition for their parents' love, family and loyalty leads to all manner of pain and discontent. We've all family the grade B movies where the put-upon child screams the seemingly obligatory line "You're not my mother!

    So much pain can be avoided if you can agree on some very basic definitions of that role, and be alert to sensitivities associated with it. To handle this situation with the utmost efficiency, both the biological parent and the stepparent should begin with an open and candid discussion about the fears and expectations regarding the relationship with the children. Each should know what the other expects concerning the stepparent's involvement in guiding, supervising and disciplining the children.

    If both partners are in the stepparent as well as biological parent role, because both have primary or even partial custody of their first, expectations of each other may differ. In other words, you may trust yourself to discipline his children, but first him to discipline yours. That's okay. What's important is that you each have an understanding and hopefully a negotiated agreement about how the stepparent role will be defined.

    Once you understand what each other's expectations are, you have a place to start shaping what the stepparent role will be. I always think it's important to first identify what you can agree on and thereby narrow your differences. How you ultimately define the stepparent role will, of course, be up to you. It's my strong belief that unless you as the stepparent are added to the family download the children are very young, it will most likely be very difficult for you to discipline your spouse's children.

    Every situation is different, but in most situations, disciplining your non-biological children is fraught with danger, since it's likely to create resentment on the part of your spouse. Again, this isn't always the case, and if that's not the circumstance in your family, that's great, because it can give the biological parent an additional resource for handling discipline issues. While I don't believe it's very likely a workable situation for a stepparent to be a direct disciplinarian, it's extremely important that the stepparent be an active supporter of the biological parent's disciplinary efforts.

    The stepparent can help with enforcement and with monitoring for compliance, even if it's not their role to initiate the discipline. Both biological parents and stepparents should discuss the rules of the house and negotiate an agreement for what standards the children will be held to. Free element of family life should be subject to the same negotiation and joint ownership as any other family situation.

    The stepparent, although not actively initiating direct discipline, should certainly work to maintain the normal boundaries that exist between an adult and a child. Although it may be the biological parent who delivers an initial consequence for misbehavior, it's important that the stepparent be active in support of that decision, and care should be taken that proper respect and acknowledgment of the stepparent be given.

    In other words, a stepfather is not simply one's mother's husband. He is in fact an adult and an authority figure in the home. In relating to all the children, the stepparent should seek to define his or her relationship as that of an ally and supporter. Whether the stepparent is the same or opposite-sexed parent, their presence can play an important balancing role in terms of modeling and information-giving about life from the male or female point of view.

    The role of ally and sup-porter is in no way to be construed as an attempt to replace the biological parent. It's important that the stepparent not have unrealistic expectations about their level of closeness or intimacy with the stepchildren. Relationships are built, and it takes time and shared experiences to create a meaningful one.

    The stepparent should also be aware that the child may be experiencing a fair amount of emotional confusion—and may in fact feel guilty that they're betraying their biological mother or family by having a close and caring relationship with their stepmother or -father. Great care and patience should be taken to allow the child an opportunity to work through those feelings. The stepmother or -father should actively support the child's relation-ship with the first mother or father no longer in the home.

    If you are in the role of stepfather, you should make it a first to nurture a relationship between you and the biological father and to find every possi- ble way you can to support a relationship between him and his children. By taking the high road of facilitation, you'll find it easier to overcome feelings of resentment both on the part of the biological father and the children he no longer has daily access to. This may require some real internal commitment on your part, because supporting your stepchildren's relationship with their biological but absent parent may seem tantamount to also supporting that parent's relationship with your spouse.

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