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A Blended Family Christmas

A Blended Family Christmas

It’s the holidays, your calendar is full; recitals, parades, concerts, sports events, shopping, gift wrapping, parties, and the list goes on. For many families this list includes navigating holidays as a blended family. Step-mothers, step-fathers, step brothers and sisters – new arrangements, new rituals, custody orders and custody fights. Every parent wants to spend Christmas morning with their child, yet parents nationwide will be waking up alone, or with step-children they see every three or four months. These sudden changes in households can be difficult – for parents, for extended family, but mostly for the children.

There is no magical resolve to smoothly transitioning through the holidays. Be prepared – someone in the crowd is going to feel unhappy. Children of blended families will find themselves missing a planned school or social event, traveling by air, train, or bus alone, sharing a bedroom with relatives they rarely see and being parented in new and sometimes conflicting styles. Pre-scheduled events and a new extended family make it even more difficult. Step parents want to make it work, however, the holidays bring differing rituals, customs, and often religious practices.

There are things outside of counseling the couple can do to support their individual children and any new or additional siblings. Follow the custody order. If your child knows what to expect and is told months in advance, apprehensions and fears can be discussed openly and honestly. Acknowledge that although your child loves both parents, only one environment is considered home – the environment they’re leaving. Avoid cross-talk by being fair, don’t take sides. Show respect for the parent that left and any new or extended family they may have.

Holidays often rekindle fears of loneliness and unresolved resentment. Children sometimes feel guilty leaving a parent alone. Let them know you’ll miss them but you’ll be fine. Share plans you’ve made and activities the other parent has planned. Above all, remain positive, stay calm, and leave room for emotions. Give every family member the space and time they need to adjust. Expect dark moods, changes in appetite, nightmares, and bad behavior – often a prelude to poor self-esteem.

Improving Lives Counseling Services can help. Blended family sessions give each member the opportunity to openly discuss their fears, challenges, and concerns in a safe protected environment. Our counselors will be available throughout the holiday season to meet your specific needs. Call us.