It is challenging blending families together and merging holiday traditions.
Some families have Christmas Eve as the main celebration and for others it is the following day.
The holidays turn into a juggling act – spending a chunk of it on the road going between houses. When two sets of children and four biological parents are involved, having step-siblings spend some holiday time together gets complicated.
Both parents may have remarried and have blended families. Step-siblings may desire opening presents together so previous arrangements may have to be altered to accomplish this.
The Parenting Plan meticulously sets in place how the holidays are to be divided up, which worked well in the past. When one or both parents get remarried, having kids be with step-siblings over holidays can be a logistical feat.
Some parents have gotten around this by having large gatherings for all. Step-parents get to meet the other step-parents with grandparents and relatives thrown into the mix. The kids get to be with everyone.
Some children go to the other parent’s house every other week or weekend. Parents can opt to spend whatever holiday falls during their time entirely with the kids. No switching back and forth. My parents did this. When Christmas or whatever occurred when I was with one, I stayed there and celebrated it with that parent.
Feel free to mix up traditions.
Memories can be attached to certain ones and shaking them up a bit ensures a merrier time. If you always went out for a big Christmas Eve dinner when previously married, turn that around into an elegant Christmas brunch or pub lunch. Do fun activities you enjoy with the kids, but in a different order. That gets rid of the ghosts from Christmas past in order to enjoy the present.
Consider starting totally new holiday rituals.
Or have family members state one or two holiday traditions that are important to them. See how they can be incorporated into your new family life. It may be tempting to do too much. Yes going to The Nutcracker, pantomimes, parties galore are fun, however downtime is important.
Watching “Elf” on TV while munching on pizza is hanging out together and strengthening the family bond.
If things seem strained with step-sibling interactions, consider allowing their friends over or inviting your nieces and nephews to join in the holiday fun.
On occasion, having extra kids around can help diffuse tension and calm the atmosphere. Do activities with new step-children. Some step-mothers baked Christmas cookies or taught culinary skills to their young family members. Step-dads have done sports with step-sons when their mums were in the kitchen for long cooking sessions near the holidays.
Although Blended Families represent a new chapter – they are formed as a result of losses.
A couple is brought together due to a death or breakup with a former partner. It is okay for youngsters to display mixed emotions. They can still love a new step-parent while mourning the loss of their former life. Bonds take time to strengthen. The first Christmas as a blended family may be more volatile with the following ones peaceful and delightful.
Hang in there, your patience will be greatly rewarded.
Wendi Schuller is a nurse, hypnotherapist and is certified in Neuro-linguistic Programing (NLP).
Her most recent book is The Global Guide to Divorce and she has over 200 published articles.
She is a guest on radio programs in the US and UK. Her website is globalguidetodivorce.com.