The more adults in the family, the more confusion and chaos there is in terms of holiday logistics. When step children partner up and start their own families, the number of adults who are not exactly related and who have their own family holiday traditions will grow incrementally. Talk about logistical nightmares! Take on the attitude of “the more the merrier” and everything will work out fine.
Holidays can be brutal for the children of divorced parents. Kids often feel incomplete. If the children spend the time with you and your partner, they will no doubt feel torn about not being with poor Mom or Dad. Try to respect the fact the kids are thinking of their other biological parent and their nostalgia for the past is not a direct shot at you. It is nothing personal.
Virtually all kids have these fantasies, especially around the holidays. The kids like the idea of their parents together, even if in reality their parents cannot spend two minutes in the together in a room without making the children want to run off to the nearest closet and cry.
If the kids spend the holiday with their other biological parent, they will be missing your partner—and even you!
As a blended family, take this into consideration:
- Who is going to spend the holiday where? Holiday plans can be predetermined by custody or shared parental agreements. If you have the flexibility of options, discuss them with the children and try to be flexible around their desires. Some families split up the holidays each year. “I’ll take Halloween and you take Thanksgiving,” or some try to do both “I’ll take Christmas Eve (Mom) and “I’ll take Christmas Day” (Dad). Several people celebrate twice, once with each parent. You also need to consider where the gifts will be opened. Parents who purchase gifts for their children like to see their reactions when the child is opening the gift. How would you feel if you didn’t get to see their surprise? Make sure you think of all parties involved when making plans.
- Take into account the religions of those involved. Hanukkah and Christmas for example. It is important to keep family traditions alive with certain cultures.
- Watch out for trouble on the step sibling front when the kids have other plans. Step-children can feel left out if there are “whole” kids in the picture. (Remember your new baby!) Try to keep the presents even, and have the major festivities take place when all the kids are present.
- If you will not have the children for the holiday, create an alternate festivity for yourselves. Do not stay home and mope. Do not force false cheer. Make new memories. Get creative.
Plan ahead. Do not let expectations go unspoken; otherwise you will be doomed to disappointment.