Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

I was in the store the other day and they’re already clearancing costumes and preparing to put out Christmas trees and ornaments. It’s September, but if you’re a blended family, that can simply mean the stress season is about to begin. The holidays are all about spending time with family and continuing traditions. However, just because the holidays remain the same each year does not mean that the family does. It can be incredibly stressful for everyone involved deciding when, where, and how holiday festivities are going to take place, especially after divorce. It can be a very difficult time for kids in blended families, and a balance must be struck. The last thing you want for your kids is for them to feel like they are being cut up and passed around like the Christmas ham.

We all want the perfect holiday for our family but you must keep in mind that the ex-spouse most likely feels the same way. Fighting is not productive and all it will do is frustrate your kids and sour their memories of the holidays. It is imperative that all of the adults involved set aside their wants and needs and find out what it is that your kids wants out of their holiday. It is ok to let your kids know your desire to spend some time with them, but you can also show them that you understand their need to spend time with other people they love. As hard as it may be to share parts of your family, your support will make matters easier for everyone involved.

Just because the family is not the same entity as it was does not mean the traditions are not still important to your kids. Let them celebrate in a way that makes them happy, because your children’s happiness is what is most important. Uneasy feelings might surface if it was a tradition that reflects a family that is no longer together, but there is no harm in it. It may be something your kids find comfort in, and your support could mean more to them than you could ever possibly know.

Once you have mapped out what your kids want for the holidays it is time to begin the negotiations with the ex-spouse to make those accommodations work. It is your job as the adults to keep clear and unbiased opinions of the situation. If the ex-spouse is unwilling to compromise you must continue to do whatever you can to make it an enjoyable holiday. Threatening custody rights is not going to make the matters any better. Communicate with your kids to assure them that you are doing everything in your power concerning their best interests. Hopefully everyone can work together to come up with a game plan that satisfies the holiday needs of all who are involved.

Being a stepparent during the holidays is not an easy feat either. Now you have multiple families vying for the children’s attention and as a stepparent you need to be flexible and understanding. Also keep in mind that family is not tied together with DNA. Each child, no matter who’s they are specifically, should be treated equally.

The holidays are not always easy. If you want the best holiday for your family that you can possibly give, you need to be willing to compromise.

2 thoughts on “Avoiding the Holiday Custody Tug of War

  1. I am so lucky that my son’s dad isn’t very traditional about Christmas and he doesn’t mind at all that I have our son every year for Christmas. I live overseas from my family and it is the one time of year that most of my family are together so it is very important for me to fly over to the UK with my son for Christmas. I feel for all the parents (mums and dads) who have to negotiate Christmas.

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