Toby Klein Greenwald
Toby Klein Greenwald, Executive V.P. Creative Development, is a founding partner and the editor-in-chief of WholeFamily. Toby is an educator, journalist, photographer, scriptwriter, poet, playwright, lyricist, and theater director, including for populations that have experienced trauma or are at risk. She is a Playback Theater conductor and is the recipient of Israel's Ministry of Education's Egerest Award for Culture, for her work in educational and community theater. She has more than 30 years of teaching experience and has served on numerous educational think tanks. Her specialties include the creation of innovative educational programs, and teaching Creative Writing and Film to AD(H)D and LD high school students, and to senior citizens. Toby is married to Yaakov and they have six children, most of whom have made her a proud mother-in-law and grandmother.
Welcome to the interactive drama and traumas of a new stepfamily! Find out how Pamela Austen, a British divorcee with two children and Joseph Kutchinsky, a widower from Long Island with three kids, struggle to make their remarriage work while they deal with family problems like drugs, teen sex, school difficulties, job hassles, sibling love and hate and marital blow-ups. Help them solve their problems (and in the process, maybe your own!)...
As I sat by your bedside, I thought about Two books you bought me. One of them, A Little Princess, was inscribed, "To my little princess." I was ten. The other, True Gift, was inscribed, "To my daughter, who has grit in abundance." I was seventeen. The lesson I learned from the first book was that a true princess knows how to give. The lesson I learned from the second book was to fight for life.
Dear WholeMom, My 15-year-old is what we used to call "pleasantly plump." She should lose about ten pounds, but she has stabilized at that weight and doesn't binge. She has a very pretty face, beautiful curly hair and a great personality. She is a good student and popular in school. Most of the year she is very happy. The problem is the summer, when kids spend so much time swimming. Most of her friends, both girls and boys, are very thin. Some look almost anorexic. I have tried to talk to her about self esteem not being about externals, like the body, but she is a sensitive girl and feels shy about the fact that she doesn't have a model's body. She has passed up invitations to go to the beach and the pool with friends because of her weight, yet she doesn't seem to have the motivation to stick to the diets I have suggested.
My sixteen-year-old daughter told me that a girlfriend of hers told her, in confidence, that she was thinking of suicide, and has actually tried it several times. She threatened to really go ahead with it if my daughter tells her parents that she is thinking about it. My daughter, in deep distress, came to me. What should we do? Worried in Washington Dear Worried in Washington: This is one matter that you can't take the time to play around with, using trial and error. The good news is that your daughter's friend has issued a cry for help and has not yet done the deed. There are several tracks of parallel action to be taken immediately.
Dear WholeMom, I feel it's never too late to train my biological kids to pick up, although I have always taught them to pick up after themselves since they've been little. They usually do what I say. When my 16-year-old non-custodial son stays with me over the weekend, he always cleans his room before he leaves without my asking. My stepson is a different matter. He must have always been very sloppy and gets away with it, especially at his mother's house. When he comes to stay with us, he brings his sloppy habits with him and when I or his dad ask him to clean up, he usually does not do it. His room is a disaster area. (Even his mom commented on the mess!) I am at a loss over what to do! I feel as if there are two different standards for my two children and my stepson.
Dear WholeMom: We have four children, two girls aged 16 and 14 and two boys aged 12 and 7. The three older children go to sleep later than the youngest boy, a fact he bitterly resents. He takes out his frustrations by acting out, refusing to go to bed and jumping out once he is in. There is lots of action going on in our home in the evening and he can't seem to settle down. He's an active little kid and doesn't want to miss any of the fun, but when he goes to bed late he finds it hard to get up in the morning for school and is miserable. How can I explain to him that even though he's bright and considers himself a peer to his siblings, the rules have to be different for his age? We're not into heavy punishment and deprivation.
Dear WholeMom, My father-in-law died recently. The family is planning a graveside memorial service for him and my eight-year-old son wants to be there. He's a mature kid for his age, but I'm not sure that he'll be able to handle this. On the other hand, he was not at the funeral and he says he really wants to go. He's never been in a cemetery. What do you think? Sad in Syracuse Dear Sad, If your son did not express any desire on his own to be at the memorial service, you should certainly not suggest it to him, but he is the one who has made the request and is apparently very interested in going. It sounds like, young though he is, your son realizes that he needs "closure.
Dear WholeMom, I have a 21-month-old son and have just found out that I am pregnant. This second pregnancy was not planned. We live in a little two bedroom apartment and my husband and I just bought a house we are to move into in mid-October. The reason I mention this is that the baby is due in mid-November. How can I help my little boy adjust to two big changes that are happening right on top of one another? In addition, I am with him three days a week and am still nursing him (sometimes a couple of times a day). I want to wean him as I cannot nurse two children (even though I have read that the La Leche League says it's okay). We had also just bought him a potty and were going to start toilet learning-- he has started to tell us (once in a while) when he has to go.
Dear WholeMom, My daughter is four. She will turn five in August. Lately she has become very short tempered. Our next door neighbor is already five. When she visits our home, my child loses control over not getting her way and automatically starts hitting, pushing and kicking. She also screams and loses control all around. Yet, in just a matter of moments she is calmed down and expects everything to be forgiven. I have approached the situation every way possible, talking to her about other people's feelings, about showing respect for other people's bodies, explaining that it is not acceptable behavior in anyone's eyes, telling her that people won't want to be her friend.
Learn how to express yourself through letter writing- using proven techniques for creating positive relationships.
Join the Austen-Kutchinskys as they struggle to make their new blended family work.
Listen to others struggle with the marital and child-rearing challenges that stump us all.