3 Tips to End Relationship Assumptions


Assumptions are probably one of the most common issues in communication! In my practice more times than not, assumptions are what is making the relationship sour. So today I’ve decided to write about how assumptions get started and what you can do about them.

How Assumptions Start

Assumptions begin by predicting what your partner is feeling or how they will respond. As you and your partner develop a pattern of communication you start to read into the nonverbal ques which leads to predictability and then assumptions. The tone you each use, your facial expressions and your body language are huge contributors to the pattern you and your partner have. In many cases, it is very important to know and understand these nonverbal expressions. However, once the communication becomes increasingly negative or hurtful, the reading of these nonverbal cues develop into assumptions.

Specific topics like sex, money, plans, family, etc., become touchy and loaded with assumptions. In the beginning of your relationship you probably didn’t have any problems talking or making plans, but overtime one or both of you may have reacted in a negative or hurtful way, and now you assume this reaction is going to happen all the time. This is what is called a conditioned response. If you initiate sex and your partner rejects you and this happens several times, then you begin to assume every time you initiate sex you will be rejected. Even worse, you begin to assume all attempts or requests in communication will be rejected! This is not the case; so here’s is what you can do to face assumptions.

Tips to Challenge Your Relationship Assumptions

ASK! Yes…the answer is that easy – just ask. Check in with your partner, see what their thoughts are. In fact, try this: make several statements toward each other and ask how many of them are true, or assumptions? Don’t be surprised if most of your statements are false!

Clarify! Say back to your partner what you think you heard them say. If you are negotiating plans or decisions, make sure you fully understand each other. This may include how you each feel, what you’re thinking and what your behaviors are. If one of you rolls your eyes, ask why they did it instead of assuming they are being disrespectful or rude. Open the door to being accountable for your actions and your partner being responsible for theirs.

Be accountable! If you have made assumptions or have been hurtful/disrespectful to your partner, take responsibility for your actions. Don’t minimize your wrongdoings – be responsible. Doing this, your partner is then also supposed to take responsibility, thus you begin working as a team. The more you argue over silly  assumptions, the more division and disconnect your relationship will experience. So if you did it, take responsibility for it. There is nothing wrong with apologizing more and criticizing and assuming less.

So be accountable, ask questions and clarify! You will be surprised at how many assumptions you make and the changes you will see in your relationship when you begin to stop them.

Tristan Beymer is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and marriage and family counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. She specializes in helping couples rebuild their relationship to be strong, healthy and passionate. She also works with individuals to overcome difficulties related to trauma and addictions.

Supporting Your Child Through Divorce


While divorce is never easy for adults, it can be so much more painful for the children who may be left feeling overwhelmed by unanswered questions, tension between parents, and confusion regarding the whole process.  Although divorces can span across months, it will span across your child’s lifetime, dividing their holidays, birthdays, and possibly special occasions.  To mitigate the impact the divorce process has on your child, there are a number of actions you can start engaging in now. 

Allow Your Child to Express His or Her Feelings
Divorce can be a time of sadness and confusion for children.  Allowing your children to experience a continuum of feelings will help them begin to process your divorce.  Create the time and space for your children to discuss these feelings.  Try to stay present during conversations instead of getting sucked into your own feelings. When appropriate, reflect back what your child said to both validate and normalize the feelings, whether it is sadness, anger or confusion.  Remember, your children have the right to feel however they want, try not to tell them how you think they should feel.

Answer Questions
Unanswered questions can create a sense of anxiety, which could potentially lead to behavior problems.  Answer you child’s questions openly and honestly.  It will be beneficial for you and your partner to brainstorm possible questions and develop answers for these questions.  Many times children will want to know where they are going to live, if they are going to have to change schools, and why you are getting divorced.  While you want to answer questions honestly, make sure they are developmentally appropriate answers.

Do Not Blame Your Spouse
At one point you loved your partner and chose to build a life together, and while you two are no longer together, your partner may still be a consistent adult in your child’s life.  It is not appropriate to blame or speak ill of your former partner in front of your children.  Children understand that they are a part of both parents; when you belittle or blame your partner, children may begin to take on those negative accusations and internalize them.  Therefore, blaming or deprecating your ex-spouse may lead to your child feeling “bad” or not good enough in your eyes. 

Protect Them From Adult Conversations
Through this process and moving forward, your child should not be exposed to fights between you and your ex-spouse.  If you and your former partner need to communicate about an issue and cannot do so without arguing, schedule the talk for a time when the children are not home.

Create Consistency Between Households
For kiddos, it can be confusing to remember all the different rules between the two houses.  Creating a little consistency between the rules, roles, and expectations will eliminate some challenges as your children transition from one home to the next.  Try to keep routines similar and kiddos on a consistent schedule.  Mixing up bed times and morning routines won’t only make it difficult for them; the issues that arise from the lack of structure can make it difficult on you as well.  Try having a conversation with your former partner regarding structure and routines to make it easier for your children.

Put Your Child First
Children need to be cared for during this time.  Although you are also grieving a loss and dealing with similar feelings, try to make sure your child still feels loved and supported through the process. Continuing to attending soccer games, music recitals, and important events will model to your children that you still care for them even if you are no longer married.  If your children still feels like a priority, it will alleviate some of their anxiety, helping them better cope with the changes.

Again, divorce is not easy for everyone, but it is especially difficult for the children who are moving between households and dealing with the feelings that surface.  To support your children through this time, allow them to openly share feelings and answer any questions to lessen the confusion.  Also, during this process and moving forward, remember, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. 

Lori Dougherty is a Marriage and Family Counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. As a child and family counselor, she helps families navigate the many difficulties that arise in their family. She also helps families rebuild their bond so they can have the fulfilling relationships they've always wanted.

Tips To Give Your Relationship a Tune-Up


Couples often present to therapy when they are in a crisis. Couples’ Therapists often cannot help when there is no longer a pulse to the relationship.  Most individuals go into marriage thinking that they’ll always get along as well as when they take their vow and are shocked when they or their partners fail to dazzle anymore. What Disney movies don’t show in fairy tale relationships is the work it takes AFTER the “I do”!

Couples often know ‘theoretically’ that marriage takes work but when the proverbial doo-doo hits the fan they lack what to do ‘practically’—we all agree that maintaining our cars, even when they seem to be running perfectly, is a must, but we often do not think relationship check-ups are necessary. Here are some proven tips to maintain your relationship so it hits the 200,000 mile mark!

Tips to Give Your Relationship a Tune-Up

1) Get regular tune-ups! The ink was not even dry on the purchase of my new vehicle when I was notified of my 6000 mile check-up. I was reluctant to go, after all everything was running smoothly why should I spend the time and money when likely my car was perfect? I could just check the oil and if all was good I could drive a few more thousand miles, right?? WRONG! We all know that by the time we hear that weird sound in the engine, we will likely be dropping several hundred dollars. And the look the mechanic gives us for not sticking to a maintenance schedule can be pretty embarrassing. Same with our relationships! If we are not ‘checking in’ we could be setting ourselves up for some serious time and money later on!

Just as you would hire an attorney on retainer, stay connected with a professional who specializes in proactive couples’ work. You may have attended pre-marital counseling prior to your marriage, see if you can set up a ‘check-in’ schedule every few months when things are going really well and more frequently during tough times. This professional should be grounded in positive psychology or a strength based approach. He or she should be asking about what works, how you solve difficulties, what you love and respect about each other! That person is an advocate for your relationship so when something gets broken, he or she believes in the relationship and has seen you at your best. That person can remind you that a trade-in is NOT in your best interest!

2) Get a wash and a wax! I used to live across the street from a man who would wash and wax his convertible Corvette every Saturday. Jim would spend hours, his car under the shade of a big oak tree, wiping and buffing until his baby gleamed! He took such pride in his car and such pleasure in keeping it shiny and beautiful. Don’t ask about Jim’s marriage though; last I heard they had split up. She got the house, he got the car.

Any marriage counselor will tell you that you get out of a relationship what you put into it. This can be very difficult to hear when you’re raising kids, starting a business, maintaining a home, caring for aging parents, and trying to have a little “me time” by going to the gym or playing golf. Spending time together is not just another thing
"You Get Out of Your Relationship What You Put Into It" 
check off on the to-do list though. It is important to create a white picket fence around the garden of your marriage. This means you must create rituals of togetherness that nothing and no one can get in-between. Often couples plan a ‘date night’ and that is great but it is more than just that. Happy long-term couples show more of an interweaving of their lives. They have common experiences, they know each other’s stories, they are in each other’s corner, and they listen to each other’s dreams and hopes. This comes from spending time with each other, every day, every week, all year long.

3) Take her out for a drive! In the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off Ferris’ nerdy friend Cameron agrees to let Ferris take his father’s much loved, but never driven, 1961 Ferrari out for a joy ride. We first see this beautiful car in a pristine, glass enclosed, garage as more a piece of art than a vehicle designed to give pleasure to the driver. Ferris enjoys every minute (as do a couple of valets!) of driving the machine! The car, says Ferris, is meant to be driven.

Pleasure is something that is meant to be part of your relationship. Many couples come to therapy and, when asked, cannot remember the last time they received or have given each other pleasure. Mind you, they may have had the obligatory bonk the night before but even that has failed to give much pleasure to either or both of them. Take each other out for a joy ride! Figure out what new pleasure you can offer. Don’t take the same route home each day—take a Sunday drive! Remember when you first began seeing each other, and you spent a significant amount of time thinking about what the other person wanted or liked? Revisit that place in your mind—become excited with the thought of surprising each other.

Your Old Marriage is Worth More than a New Car

In reality there are no hard and fast rules that will guarantee a life of marital bliss but it has been found that what we decide to focus on becomes more of our reality than what we choose to ignore! To the extent that we focus on our relationship and privilege our beloved we will create a relationship we can be proud of. In the end a vintage Porsche in pristine condition will always be worth more than a brand new Ford Fiesta!

Roxanne Bamond, Ph.D., is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. She specializes in helping individuals and couples to create healthy relationships. She also assists and helps individuals through transitional difficulties such as a divorce, separation, or life crisis.

6 Skills of Active Listening


Often my clients come in wanting the big answers like "how can we be happier together" or" how can I keep him or her interested in me?" Often they think they have to learn a complete new skill, buy sexy lingerie, or get a new hairstyle, when everything they need to know to improve their relationships they learned in kindergarten!

Listening Isn't Just Hearing

Listening is the number one thing both men and women wish their partners did more! But are you one of the many folks out there who can get so caught up in your busy life, that you sometimes find yourself multi-tasking? You might be trying to listen to a friend's difficulties, but have ten things running through your mind at the same exact time. Like, what will we eat for dinner….who are the Bronco’s playing tomorrow….did I remember to lock the front door when I left the house? Many of us are so busy in our lives and in our heads, that we are rarely fully “present” when we are listening to our friends and families.

Often in my line of work, clients tell me that they have a problem communicating with a loved one. When I work with my clients who complain about struggles with communication, I almost always help them with the basics of listening. Listening is very simple but definitely NOT easy! This is a learned skill and it really works to let others know just how much you do care.

Here are six simple (but not easy!) skills of listening!

6 Skills of Active Listening

1) Sit facing your partner. This does not have to be awkward, just shift your body so that you can see your partner and she or he can see you too.

2) Look into your partner’s eyes. Give him or her your complete, undivided attention, pay attention to your posture and body language

3) Acknowledge that you are listening by giving verbal and non-verbal encouragers.  Give gestures like a head nod or an "uh huh"-- do what it takes so that your partner know you are hearing what is being said.

4) Don’t interrupt. Take a breath before responding if a response is even needed.

5) Don’t just think of how to respond. Don't think of a rebuttal to what is being said and push aside judgement.

6) Mirror back what your partner has said. This could be a simple summary like, "Wow, it sounds like you are saying that your job is stressing you out." Wait for your partner to acknowledge that you "got it" before responding to the message.

You are now ready to use these skills and try out some active listening. Ask your partner for a practice session. Sit face to face, look into your partner’s eyes and ask him or her to share a problem that they are facing. Breathe. Listen to the problem as it is described to you. Then mirror back to your partner, and ask if you heard correctly; repeat back, from your partner's viewpoint, the problem as described.

Other Tips of Listening

When you are listening, put aside the urge to solve your partner’s problem. Do not think of your own similar situation. Look at your partner when they speak. Stay engaged. Put cell phones and all distractions away. While your partner is speaking, acknowledge with a nod or say “uh huh.” Reflect back to your partner by asking, “I heard you say …… Is this correct?” Push your own thoughts and judgements aside. Be completely engaged and actively listening to your partner. Do not come up with solutions or arguments. Concentrate.

Be conscious of what the other person is saying. Ask for clarification if needed. Be open. Don’t judge. Your goal is to listen, not solve. When someone feels heard, it is wonderful and validating and my clients tell me it can be the key to a stronger and very beautiful relationship!

Remember, practice, practice, practice.

How To Form A Genuine Bond With Your Stepchild


Forming a new bond with a stepchild can be very difficult for everyone involved. It’s a long process that can feel overwhelming at times, but there are steps you can take to make the transition a lot easier on the both of you. Your efforts will result in a genuine bond that you will cherish for years to come.

Give It Time 

A strong bond won’t be created overnight. Patience is key when working through the many issues that come up when a stepfamily is created. If your stepchild is older, it may be even harder to form that bond right away, but that doesn’t mean it will never happen. Give them space and enough time to work through their emotions regarding their new family, but let them know you’re available if they ever have questions or would like to talk. One thing to remember: never force them to do anything. Be available but let your stepchild come to you, and you will find it much easier to establish trust. Common ground can do wonders for your relationship, especially when you have no other past experiences to bind you together.

Pay Attention to Their Interests

Let your stepchild know that you value them by providing them with a personalized gift that caters to one of their hobbies. This will show that you care about them and are making an effort to get to know them better. Cater to their interests; if they have a favorite hobby, personalize a gift that they can use. hard for any parent, the effort is noticed and more often than not appreciated.

Better yet, join them in said hobby and spend some quality time with them. They will love that you’re making the effort to enjoy their interests and understand what makes them happy. Shared interests can serve as some of the strongest connection points. Plus, the bonding time is priceless. This concept translates into any extracurricular they may take part in. Attend every theater production they star in or cheer from the sidelines at their soccer game. Unwavering support can go a long way in creating a strong connection.  For older children, take the time to talk and get to know them. While getting teenagers to discuss even the most mundane details can be

Be Aware Of Your Actions

Forming a strong relationship with your child means understanding the way you come across, even when you’re not speaking to them. Nonverbal communication can have a huge effect on your relationships, especially with a child who doesn’t understand the pressures of the outside world and the stress you may be under. Don’t ignore them for your phone, and don’t give them half of your attention. Be all in at any time you’re interacting with them. The extra effort will pay off.

Respect Other Relationships

Make it clear that you are not trying to step into anyone’s shoes. Don’t try to serve as a replacement for a lost parent, and don’t ever criticize your stepchild’s biological parent. Children often experience feelings of guilt when they get along with their stepparent, and may act out due to their urge to be “loyal” to their biological parent. This is common, and won’t last forever. Encourage communication with their biological parent, and if possible, work together to establish a plan for authority purposes.

Discipline Concerns

Often, stepparents can take on the discipline role too soon, so ask your spouse and your stepchild’s biological parent to figure out the best course of action to ensure everyone feels safe and secure with the changing environment. Serve as an extension of authority, not as the main disciplinarian. A unified front will be most effective and help everyone transition into their new roles more quickly. Your relationship may be weak in the beginning and punishment can create even more resentment between you and your stepchild. As a family, lay down some rules that everyone must abide by, and make sure you’ve communicated your expectations clearly.

Fair and Equal Treatment

If you have biological children, make sure you treat your stepchildren with the same amount of love and respect. They are just as much a part of your family now, and equal treatment will allow your children to bond with each other without feeling any unnecessary resentment. One-on-one time with your stepchild may be too overwhelming for them at first. Work to ensure another family member is present for the multitude of your interactions during the first few months. Help your stepchild see they are a valued part of your family. Play some family outdoor games to create shared experiences and hopefully inspire a little laughter.

Plan a Surprise Trip

Try getting out of your normal environment and give yourself and your stepchild the chance to bond while discovering exciting new things. Ask for their input on a place they’d like to visit and spend a weekend exploring new places while learning more about each other. Surprise them with a new suitcase or backpack for all their traveling essentials and explain your idea. The thought that you cared to plan a trip for them will mean a lot.

Becoming a stepparent is a difficult task, but can be one of the most rewarding things you ever do. Work with your stepchild to form a genuine bond that will last a lifetime.

Taming Your Child’s Lizard Brain


 I often have parents share with me that their child has “behavioral problems.”  However, a majority of the time, these meltdowns or tantrums are really worry and anxiety manifesting behaviorally.  While a little worrying is normal and necessary to protect us, uncontrollable anxiety can become problematic, impacting a child or adolescent’s emotional, social, and academic functioning.  As the parent, you can be your child’s biggest support when he or she is struggling to regulate the worry.  Try these mindfulness-based tips to bring awareness to what your child is feeling and nip anxiety in the bud.

Name It
Anxiety can manifest in a number of ways.  Our “lizard brain” – the part of our brain responsible for fight, flight, or freeze – is triggered when we are feeling anxious.  Anxiety is the brain's way of protecting the body so children may completely shut down, cling to you, or have a meltdown.  While this is all normal behavior, it is also exhausting for both you and your child.  To avoid a total tantrum, help your child name what he or she is feeling in the body.  Ask your child to describe the feelings that are arising.  If these somatic sensations involve stomach pains, dizziness, tingles, or chest pain, you are more than likely dealing with an anxious child. 

Acknowledge the Feelings
Once you’ve identified your child’s tantrum as anxiety, you can coach your child back into what Daniel Siegel describes as the “river of well-being.”  The last thing you want to do to a child who is having anxiety is tell him or her to calm down.  Think about it, wouldn’t this spike your anxiety?  Allow your child the space to discuss his or her feelings and acknowledge them.  Connect with your child through reflecting back what you heard and echo understanding to normalize the feelings.

Once your child has pushed off the riverbank and is slowly making his or her back into the river of well-being, you can continue to coach your child to engage in belly breaths.  Slow, controlled deep breaths stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, helping your child’s heart rate slow and blood pressure decrease.  To help your child control his or her breathing, you can place a small, light object on his or her stomach and make a game out of raising and lowering the object with only the breath.  Try using a favorite stuffed animal or toy for this activity.  

Stop the Thoughts
Our thoughts really can get the best of us and children are no exception to this rule.  Visualization techniques such as thought bubbles can help your child replace the worrying thoughts with more adaptive or productive thinking.  While you do not want to minimize their feelings, you want to help them challenge their own thinking.  I suggest helping children come up with three thoughts they know to be true for every one worry.  For instance, if your child is worried you won’t love her if she gets bad grades or he doesn’t make the basketball team, help your child develop three reasons why that thought is false.   

You can be your child’s best coach by helping him or her develop simple techniques for regulating worry, setting them up for emotional, social, and academic success.  When your children are young, they may turn to you to help regulating their emotions.  However, through modeling and coaching, you can teach your children the necessary skills to manage stress and anxiety, giving them the self-confidence to cope with their emotions as they grow.

Lori Dougherty is a Marriage and Family Counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. As a marriage and family counselor, she helps couples navigate the many difficulties that arise in their relationship. She also helps couples rebuild happiness together so they can have the fulfilling relationship with their partner they've always wanted.

5 ways to increase intimacy and sex in your relationship


As a couples therapist I hear a lot about how sex becomes rut and how intimacy seems to be nonexistent. Oddly enough, these ruts are normal in long term relationships. With little to no passion maintenance, the pace and connection between you and your partner becomes predictable and robotic. So today I’m going to share with you 5 vulnerable yet easy ways to bring some erotic passion into your relationship. The only tools and toys you will need are your 5 senses – touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound.

Here is a little disclosure first: when connecting with your partner sexually the 5 sense are a shared two-fold experience. What I
mean is not only are you touching your partner, you are also experiencing touch; your partner hears you, and you hear your partner; During sex, using your 5 senses becomes a dance shared and reciprocated by both people.

Increasing Your Sexual Experience Using Your 5 Senses

1) Touch. Touch is probably one of the most important elements of the senses during intimacy and sex. Where you touch, how you touch, the pressure used, the speed, and the parts of the body used during touch are a critical part of the sexual dance. Talk to your partner about what they like about being touched, where they desire to be touched and held. Yes, it’s a safe bet touching the penis or vagina are high priorities for you both, but there are other erotic zones on the body. For instance, the back, inner thigh, chest, neck, hips, etc. can be very enticing and heighten the sexual intimacy. If there is a type of touch or pressure you don’t like, tell your partner. Be respectful and kind when telling your partner what you don't like in the bedroom though.

2) Taste. Yep the taste of you and the taste of your partner play a role in the intimate connection you both experience. Wow…I really hope my mom doesn’t read this part, but I’m about to get a little on the naughty side of taste. Taste includes, the skin, mouth, vagina and penis. There are different areas of the skin will taste different than other areas. This is also in part to where your partner holds their fragrance or essence. Some people call these pheromones.

Tasting your partner’s natural fragrance is bonding and exciting and something you will long for when thinking of your partner. The unique taste of your partner can usually be located near/around their genitals, chest, neck, etc., but its best to discover this on your own. Your partners’ saliva will also have its own unique taste. Again, your partner tasting you is just as critical as you tasting them. On another note, understanding how you personally taste can be something you and your partner discover together – this can be a very erotic and intimate experience.

3) Smell. Very similar to taste is smell. You and your partner individually have a unique and natural smell not shared by anyone else. But here’s the enticing part…during intimate and sexual experiences each of your unique smells mix together through sweat, saliva, semen, and vaginal fluids to create a bond and memory shared between you. As you’re tasting these special zones, take time to smell and appreciate the uniqueness of your partner and of yourself.

4) Sight. Whether you're a man or woman, don’t think that just because you don’t look like a
supermodel or porn star you can’t have sex with the lights on, walk around naked, or be on top of the sheets or the kitchen table. Tell each other what you like about the others body and what the sight of them means to you. There is something delightful and fun looking down at the both of your bodies entangled with the other; watching the movement of your bodies together; and watching how you both are touching each other. Keep your eyes open, watch as your partner enjoys you and the experience you both are sharing.

5) Sound. Let’s face it, quiet sex is kind of boring and only necessary when the kids/others are around! The sound of your partners breath, moans, voice and grunts (yes…I said grunts guys seems to do this) are part of the dance and connection you both share. The tone and noise made by you both contributes to the direction and need you’re meeting for each other. Like laughter is contagious, the moans and groans of your shared sexual and intimate moments are contagious, too.

 Deliberately Use Your 5 Senses

We use our 5 senses daily, but now try them in the bedroom and with the one who is the most important to you. See what happens when you enter this level of connection, intimacy and vulnerability…Your sexual experience will never be the same.  

Tristan Beymer is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and marriage and family counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. She specializes in helping couples rebuild their relationship to be strong, healthy and passionate. She also works with individuals to overcome difficulties related to trauma and addictions.

Establishing A Strong Parent-Teacher Relationship


If school hasn’t already started for your children, it’s right around the corner.  While there are a number of things you can do to help your children be successful this school year – helping with homework, getting them on a schedule, or helping them stay organized – one of the most neglected things you can do is establish a strong parent-teacher relationship.  Although you might not find this as important, teaming up with your child’s teacher ensures more academic and, potentially, social-emotional success.  To create a positive parent-teacher relationship, try these tips.

With a Little Time and Energy, Creating a Relationship Can be Easy 

Be Friendly
Most teachers will tell you that working with kiddos is the easy part; it’s the parents who can be difficult.  I know first hand that it can be difficult to deal with unfriendly parents.  Think of it as you dealing with an unfriendly boss, someone who may look down on you in front of others.  If you do not like your child’s teacher, that’s fine; however, try not to undermine or speak negatively of him or her in front of your child.  Children tend to model what they are taught, simply being friendly with your child’s teacher will not only help you develop a connection, it will model respectful behavior to your child.  Plus, kindness is free.  Yes, getting a small token if appreciation can be nice, but being friendly speaks volumes.     

I know we’re all busy, but volunteering at your child’s school is an easy way to develop a relationship with teachers.  Volunteering to come in and read to the class, for a school dance, or other activities not only gives you exposure to the teachers but what your child is doing at school.  This is a win for both you and the teacher, as you will have an opportunity to experience your child’s daily activities, allowing you to create some continuity between home and school. 

Be Respectful
Just like you, teachers are busy.  Be respectful of their time.  Don’t overload their inbox or leave dozen of voicemails.  While it can be frustrating not to get an immediate response, it’s not always possible for teachers to cater to your needs and teach a classroom of kiddos.  Also, if your child's teacher does happen to call you to share a concern, such as your child’s classroom behavior, be respectful of their concerns.  Your child's teacher may not be to blame for a child’s classroom behavior.  Remember, your child may act differently when you’re not around.  Try to stay respectful and hear your child’s teacher out before jumping to any conclusions about their classroom management.

Be Available
Let you child’s teacher know the best method of communication for you.  Working in schools, I noticed most parents gave out their home number instead of a work number.  Usually the best time for a teacher to reach you is during the day, specifically during an off period.  Make sure you are giving out the best method of communication so you’re easily reached. 

Don’t Helicopter
When asking my teacher friends for advice on ways parents can build relationships, one of the themes that emerged was the helicopter parent.  Teachers, even beginning teachers, have the education and experience necessary to support and appropriately educate your child.  The last thing a teacher, or your child, needs is for you to be overprotective and continually checking in.  While teachers appreciate volunteers, watch the amount of time you spend in the classroom.  Giving your children the space to develop a little self-efficacy will give them the self-confidence they need to successfully navigate through life.  While your child is your baby now, he or she won’t be forever and won’t always rely on you to problem solve.  School is a great place for children to develop these skills along with confidence and self-esteem. 

Whether your child is starting kindergarten or transitioning into high school, it’s always important to establish a strong parent-teacher relationship.  Not only does this communicate to teachers are you available and interested, you will be better equipped to support your child academically.  

Lori Dougherty is a Marriage and Family Counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. As a marriage and family counselor, she helps couples navigate the many difficulties that arise in their relationship. She also helps couples rebuild happiness together so they can have the fulfilling relationship with their partner they've always wanted.

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