Blended Family holidays

You and your new spouse, and your entire blended family, will be spending your first holiday season together. Congratulations! For many, traditional family gatherings help give the season special meaning. For others, the holidays serve to provide an opportunity for conflict and hurt feelings. With your new step family to consider, now might be a good time to re-visit some of your usual holiday traditions. It may take courage and determination to institute changes, but setting off on the right foot, giving priority to your blended family, is an important and meaningful step.

Old and new traditions are an important part of family holidays

As the parent of your own biological kids, you know how important maintaining holiday traditions can mean to them, especially in light of their new blended family situation.  As a new step parent, you will be anxious to share your own traditions with your step kids, but do remember that their own traditions are important, too.  Talk to your kids about what traditions are special to them. Have each child share their thoughts with the entire blended family.

Try to incorporate multiple traditions from both sides into your new family.  This is also a great time to create new traditions.

Making judicious decisions in your stepfamily

You and your spouse should talk about the kinds of family holiday traditions you and your children have observed, and determine which traditions you wish to keep. Talk with the children, certainly, but make your first discussions private. If Thanksgiving dinner with your mother at her home is something you cherish, you will want to share the experience with your blended family. But if Christmas dinner with tipsy Uncle Irving harassing Aunt Susie has always been difficult to bear, why subject your new family to the discomfort?

Coordinate with your ex-spouse

After you and your blended family partner have given the holiday season a broad view, and taken into account previously agreed-upon holiday visitations, contact your ex-spouse to discuss specifics regarding pick-up and drop-off times, holiday meal schedules, and other details, so that you do not find yourselves working at cross-purposes. Keeping holiday scheduling uncomplicated and stress free will make things easier for everyone, especially the children.

Reasonable expectations

Above all, try to avoid the pitfalls of planning and attempting to execute the perfect holiday! There is no such perfection, and trying to accomplish it is a sure avenue to disappointment. Remember to be flexible, understanding, and patient as everyone in your blended family learns to navigate a new family holiday situation and new relatives. Try to avoid conversations which would make your spouse and step kids feel left out, and encourage bonding activities for them and your extended family members.

Enjoy your first holiday season as a blended family. Once it has passed, ask your kids what they liked best about it; find out what, if anything made them uncomfortable or sad.  Ask yourself what you liked best as well, and what you would just as soon leave off the schedule for next year! Building a new blended family takes time, energy, patience and love. New traditions take time, as well. Take all the time you need.