With divorce and remarriage, celebrations can become complex for a blended family. As one who is in a blended family of seven, I know this first hand! First and foremost, try to minimize the stress for the children during the holiday season. Here are five tips for to help with just that.
As a blended family, there are many considerations when it comes to the holiday season. Plan ahead and know what the schedule and itinerary looks like. Let the kids know the plan. This helps everyone relax versus doing last minute schedule changes to accommodate the needs of multiple families.
HONOR TRADITIONS: CREATE NEW ONES
Now that the family has been restructured, keeping old traditions exactly as they were can be a tall order. Keep those that you can and come together as a family to create new traditions. Be creative. These new traditions are important bonding glue that strengthens the connection of the family–new memories are formed, which brings closeness and fondness.
BE AWARE OF LOSS AND LOYALTY
Everyone in the family has experienced loss, this includes each parent and child. The simplicity of a “nuclear” family is no longer possible, yet each may long and grieve for that in their own way. Encourage emotional expression, even if it is difficult to hear. Give the children permission to enjoy their time with their other parent.
As a blended family, learning to color outside the lines is essential! Celebrations do not have to happen on specific days, nor must every family member be present for it to be a joyous occasion. Be open to old traditions taking on a new flare. Welcome the emergence of completely new traditions, unique to your blended family. Modeling flexibility as parents will help the children open and relax as well.
COME TOGETHER AS A COUPLE
The couple relationship is the bond that holds the entire family together. Talk as a couple about the schedule, itinerary, budget, gift list. By minimizing the stress in your relationship you help minimize the stress for the entire family. Honoring the loss you feel while at the same time embracing the joy of your new family will light your children’s way forward with clarity and warmth.