As we move toward Thanksgiving and Christmas, I want to include some holiday tips I’ve written about previously. Holidays can be very stressful for stepfamilies and it’s helpful to be aware of what we can do to make the holiday season an enjoyable one.
Tip #1: Let go of unrealistic expectations
Don’t expect every day of the season to go smoothly. Recognize that children experience fluctuating emotions as they cope with the loss of their nuclear family and accept their new step family. Because stepfamilies are created as a result of loss (divorce or death), children go through a grieving process. They may act out or withdraw for periods of time.
During the holidays, emotions can heighten and memories of past holidays can prevent stepchildren from enjoying current holiday celebrations. Don’t take it personally if their attitude changes from one day to the next as you’re trying to decorate the house or come together for family traditions.
Keep a positive mindset when negotiating visitation. Don’t expect the schedule to work out perfectly without compromise on your part. When our children were younger, we considered our children’s scheduling needs with their non-custodial parents before determing how to come together with our extended family. Some years it was disappointing for my husband and me to have little time with our own parents and siblings, but we accepted the reality of too many schedules to consider to see everyone.
Stepfamilies have complicated issues to work through during the holidays. One bad day doesn’t have to dictate a difficult holiday season. Even with a bump or two along the way, it can be a joyous and memorable time.
Have you worked out your visitation schedule for the Thanksgiving Break? Were you able to negotiate well with other parties involved?