It isn’t a stretch to say the holidays can be stressful, in addition to being enjoying and memorable. The demands on your time, pocketbook and emotions are numerable.
Add to that the complications that come with blended families and you can understand why stress is easily doubled. There are many issues that can arise with stepfamilies during the holidays.
Sharing kids means they spend time with you and your family and time with the other bio parent and his/her family. This can cut into your plans and prevent you from being able to do what you want.
You and your spouse may have different opinions on how much to spend on your own children resulting in arguments and resentment. Extended family may not treat the stepkids the same way they do the bio kids, creating bad feelings and causing uncomfortable situations.
You may feel overburdened and unappreciated when your stepkids don’t recognize what you do for them and the expression of love toward the bio parent may highlight the lack of affection your stepchildren feel toward you or at least the difference. I’m sure you can add some more of your own.
Here are some tips to help you navigate these and other stressful situations:
- Family First. Put your blended family’s interests first. It comes before other individuals’ demands, opinions, actions, feelings and pressures. Keeping this in mind will help you to prioritize your stepfamily’s needs and say no to the things that aren’t good for you as a unit.
- Go With the Flow. Don’t try to control everything and everyone. Controlling leads to arguments and misery. Going with the flow means you’re flexible and able to adjust when things don’t go perfectly.
- Keep Expectations Low. Minimize specific expectations so you won’t be disappointed. Rather than picture an ideal Christmas, keep an open mind with a “wait and see” attitude. It’s always nicer to be surprised than it is to be disappointed.
- Treat Kids Equally. Treat your stepkids the same way you treat yours. Offer the same support, grace, understanding and opportunity. You will have to be intentional about treating your stepkids the same to overcome the bias that naturally favors your biological kids.Notice, I didn’t say you have to love them the same – only treat them the same.
- Protect Your Famly. Stand up for your stepfamily including your children, your stepkids and spouse. This could mean a quiet conversation pointing out an extended family member is doing something that isn’t good for your stepfamily. It could also include setting boundaries on what you’re willing to do and not do.
- Keep a Healthy Perspective.This will help you to give your spouse room to take care of his/her kids and help you to keep a healthy perspective.When you get upset about something your spouse does for his/her child, ask yourself what you would do for your child in the same situation.
- In-Laws Consistency. Require the same treatment from your in-laws for both your children and stepchildren. Don’t allow your stepchildren to be ignored or mistreated. This will go a long way inside your step-family as both your stepkids and spouse will know that you are loyal and fair.
- Detach With Love. Detach with love toward everyone. Rather than jumping to conclusions by assuming someone is doing something “to you”, recognize he/she is struggling with personal issues and doing the best possible.
- Mutual Respect. Be compassionate toward your stepchildren and focus on mutual respect rather than on certain feelings and levels of relationship. It isn’t easy to be a stepkid either.
- Agree Upon Holiday Plans. Talk with your spouse to come to an agreement about plans. If you work together to formulate the schedule and goals, you will be avoiding potential misunderstandings and last-minute changes.
Your step-family Christmas won’t be stress-free, but it will be less stressful when you follow these tips. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
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