6 Ways For Blended Families To Enjoy The Holidays

Holiday time is family time. But the holidays can be challenging when the family includes one or two sets of step children and two sets of parents. With proper planning, flexibility and a lot of love, the holidays can be a success for all.

1. Discuss financial concerns. Often times the men are supporting two families, and money is tighter as a result. Adults need to come up with a workable budget. Gifts can be homemade, coupons for a parent and child to spend together engaged in an activity the child likes, all making gift-giving affordable.

2. Children react to change with behavioral changes. In a new family, children may not want to listen to their parent’s expectations of how they should respond to the new parent. Be patient. Children may not have a solid relationship with the stepparent. Respect their unique way of relating to others.

3. Recognize that traditions have already been established in the children’s previous families. You can’t necessarily start over fresh and discard the past. It is best to plan ahead, discuss options, determine which traditions to have or throw out, and negotiate agreement on how to celebrate the holiday.

4. If children are spending time with both sets of parents over the holidays then be careful to not set up a competitive relationship. Give the children time to adjust to the different rules and environment after visiting the other parent. After all, having two separate holiday celebrations can be over stimulating, stressful, and tiring for the children.

5. Parents of children who are with their other parent over Christmas may feel depressed. These dark feelings can be combated by establishing new traditions, planning activities with one’s spouse that could not be done with children around, or getting together with friends/colleagues.

6. If the blended family consists of ‘his’, ‘hers’, and ‘ours’ children, be vigilant about treating all equally. Children are aware of favoritism in gift giving, and can end up resenting both the parents and the perceived favorite child, negatively impacting on family relationships.

As with all plans, the needs of the children should be foremost in the holiday decision making process. I know of one woman who epitomizes this by inviting all the children, the ex’s, as well as the in-laws and out-laws to celebrate part of Christmas at her home each year. They don’t all come, and everything doesn’t always go idyllically. But over the years, the adults are learning to put aside their resentments and provide lifelong happy memories for their children.

Eileen Lenson, author, is available for life and business coaching sessions. For further information, call 949-244-5100.

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Eileen Lenson
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