Gayla Grace with Three Reasons Stepfamilies Need Traditions

Traditions – Three Reasons a Stepfamily Needs Them

 

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“Family traditions are a great way for stepfamilies to connect with one another. Family members come together and work toward a common goal in a non-threatening environment. Traditions can be as simple as making paper chains to count down the days toward Christmas (one of my kids’ favorites) or more involved such as helping serve a meal at the homeless shelter. The goal is to find activities that the family enjoys and will look forward to doing together.”

It’s been seven years since I originally penned those words. Little has changed except now the kids are older and we don’t make a paper chain. Some of the kids are now married, so we’ve adjusted our traditions to include spouses and to accommodate the schedules of these new families. Well, now that I think about it, maybe more has changed than I realized. But I still believe family traditions are one of the keys to successfully navigating the holiday season as a stepfamily.

With traditions, everyone knows what to expect and works at accommodating their schedule to allow time to participate.

There are three benefits to creating traditions.

  1. Traditions create bonds. Bonds are strengthened as the family does something together. Think of the strands of a rope. One strand by itself is weak, but when woven together with more strands, the rope becomes stronger. Creating bonds makes your stepfamily stronger.
  2. Traditions provide a means of expressing love and laughter. These emotions help protect a family from brokenness and conflict. Working for a common purpose creates a sense of loyalty to each other and the family.
  3. Traditions create special memories. Memories that will be cherished long after family members pass on. Reminiscing of times’ past with loved ones can help ease the loneliness that creeps in when celebrating the holiday without that special someone.

Traditions are important and flexibility is key to making them work in stepfamilies.

Continuing traditions already in place also helps to provide routine and predictability.  Routine during the hectic holiday time just might offer some stability to otherwise unstable emotions that seem to surface this time of year.

It’s never too late to start family traditions. They offer a sense of belonging that can help cement relationships. Bring your family together and enjoy some new traditions this year!

What are some of your family traditions?

Experiencing Peace in Your Stepfamily Holiday

The countdown to Christmas is upon us. How are you doing? Are you surviving the hustle bustle or  looking for ways to flee from the chaos?

ID-100216742Blended families have unique challenges that make holidays complicated and often stressful.

But we don’t have to succumb to the chaos.

We can savor the moments of joy and remember the Reason for the season.

We can make an intentional choice to focus on the positive when negative happenings occur or conflict erupts.

After 20 years of blended family holidays, I could give a list of 20 tips to help you find peace amidst the chaos. But I’m going to give only one.

Manage your expectations.

I know—it seems too simple.

But… it’s often the root of conflict and disappointment through the holidays.

Are you struggling with expectations? Cleveland Clinic suggests you write down your expectations to help determine whether they’re realistic and what feelings are hidden behind them. Look for potential stressors tied to each one and what you can do to alleviate uncomfortable feelings surrounding the expectation.

Here’s an example:

Spend meaningful time with my stepchildren during the holiday break.

Is this realistic? Are your stepchildren teenagers who focus more on themselves than others? What constitutes meaningful?

A more realistic expectation might be: Look for ways to have conversations with my stepchildren in a relaxed setting.

This expectation can be achieved in most every home and builds relationships in the process. Instead of an elaborate expectation, you strive for an attainable goal.

And the end result is peace and contentment.

Now it’s your turn. What expectation is creating angst for you? How will you redefine it to lessen the stress you feel surrounding it?

Will you share it with us? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

If you’re looking for other ideas on how to manage stepfamily expectations and find support in your stepmom role, please consider joining us at our next Stepmom Retreat at the beautiful Winshape Retreat Center in Rome, GA (outside Atlanta). I’d love to meet you there!

And for a dose of encouragement every day, pick up a copy of our stepmom devotional, Quiet Moments for the Stepmom Soul. 

Pic by vectorolie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Want More Peace During Your Stepfamily Holiday?

Guest post by Barb Goldberg

Peace may not be the first thought that crosses your mind when you think about stepfamilies celebrating the holidays. It should be. Those of us that are part of a stepfamily have a huge advantage over other families. We know that we have to practice our mediation skills and we know that we have to establish our peace processes now.

Read more

Holiday Tips for a Merry Christmas with Your Stepfamily

Christmas is just a few days away. Here are a few ideas on how to make the most of that special day.

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M – Mind your expectations. Lower them when necessary.

E – Expect bumps along the way.

R –  Refuse to take everything personally – it’s probably not about you.

R – Relax when you’re about to go over the cliff.

Y – Yield toward kindness as often as possible.

 

C – Choose to stay calm in the heat of conflict.

H – Have a Plan B for your schedule.

R – Remember the Reason for the season.

I – Include grace every day.

S – Settle for good enough instead of insisting on perfection.

T – Tell your spouse you love him/her every day.

M – Make memories with your stepchildren.

A – Admit when you fail and ask for forgiveness.

S – Seek to do your part toward loving relationships in your stepfamily.

Merry Christmas!

For more holiday tips, check out our holiday e-book, Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace.  It’s a great tool to help you and all stepparents find peace during the holidays and beyond. It’s packed with proven tools and tips, personal stories and a list of recipes and new holiday traditions you can start with your stepfamily.   Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace

 

 

 

 

Pic by David Castillo Dominici

 

When Stepparenting Days Turn Dark

I’ve spoken with several stepparents recently struggling with dark days. One stepmom described her life as “hopeless.” Another spoke of daily, overwhelming challenges with her stepdaughter.

I started my blog four years ago this month after coming through some difficult years with my own stepchildren. I’m thankful to be a better place now as my stepchildren are young adults and our relationships are good.

But, I understand dark days.

My devotional this morning was titled, “When We’re in the Dark.” It gives a powerful illustration of the beauty of dark days. I hope you find it helpful on hard days.

“In the famous lace shops of Brussels, there are certain rooms devoted to the spinning of the finest and most delicate patterns. These rooms are altogether darkened, save for a light from one very small window, which falls directly upon the pattern. There is only one spinner in the room, and he sits where the narrow stream of light falls upon the threads of his weaving. “Thus,” we are told by the guide, “do we secure our choicest products. Lace is always more delicately and beautifully woven when the worker himself is in the dark and only his pattern is in the light.”

May it not be the same with us in our weaving? Sometimes it is very dark. We cannot understand what we are doing. We do not see the web we are weaving. We are not able to discover any beauty, any possible good in our experience. Yet if we are faithful and fail not and faint not, we shall some day know that the most exquisite work of all our life was done in those days when it was so dark.

If you are in the deep shadows because of some strange, mysterious providence, do not be afraid. Simply go on in faith and love, never doubting. God is watching, and He will bring good and beauty out of all your pain and tears.—J. R. Miller.

The shuttles of His purpose move

To carry out His own design;

Seek not too soon to disapprove

His work, nor yet assign

Dark motives, when, with silent tread,

You view some sombre fold;

For lo, within each darker thread

There twines a thread of gold.

Spin cheerfully,

Not tearfully,

He knows the way you plod;

Spin carefully,

Spin prayerfully,

But leave the thread with God.

—Canadian Home Journal.”

“I will give you the treasures of darkness.” Isaiah 45:3

Devo from Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman

For more holiday tips, follow my blog and  Heather Hetchler’s blog at CafeSmom  as we share tips from our holiday e-book, Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace, every Mon, Wed and Friday. Our e-book is a great tool to help you and all stepparents find peace during the holidays and beyond. It’s packed with proven tools and tips, personal stories and a list of recipes and new holiday traditions you can start with your stepfamily.A Stepparent's Guide to Success

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pic By Photokanok