Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

With the holidays coming, I have offered some advice to biological moms and dads out there about how to make sure your children don’t suffer through the sometimes very difficult tug of war of the holiday season. Even more important is the advice I offer to the step moms and step dads out there who sometimes dread the holidays more than look forward to them.

I was in a lucky position: my husband had full custody of his children, so I was a full-time step mom with very little interruption from bio mom. Life, for us, was sometimes nothing more that our daily routines…until the holidays rolled around.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, the woman who hadn’t had time to help the kids when they were sick or attend their parent-teacher conferences or take advantage of her visitation wanted to have her “every other holiday” and disrupt our Christmas and Thanksgiving plans.

Of course, that was my attitude – that it was a disruption. Quite frankly, I didn’t like the idea that I had to do all the hard work all year long and then she could swoop in and drop a few gifts on the kids and be the hero of the holidays. It aggravated me, it made me cry, it made my run to my mother’s house and vent until I was exhausted.

BUT it made the kids happy. These three kids that I loved so much were starving for the attention of their mom, and even if it only came once a year for a holiday photo op and an ultimatum from Grandma that she would indeed see her grandkids at Christmastime, it meant everything to the kids. They needed that connection to the other part of them, so regardless of the turmoil I suffered internally, I forced a smile on my face, wished the kids a great time, sent them bearing gifts, and worked our holiday schedule around their availability.

Your situation may not be like mine – no blended family or step parent situation is exactly alike – but what can be the same is your attitude. I know it’s hard, but what really matters is doing what is right by the kids involved. That means letting them be with all of their loved ones on the holidays; it means not fighting or causing drama that makes the kids wish Christmas never came. It means putting aside your own issues, agendas, and hopes, and working to make the best possible memories for the kids – yours, his, hers, all of them.

It’s not easy, and it’s okay to be frustrated. It’s also ok to have limits and to desire (but not expect) cooperation in return. If you have any doubt about whether or not what you do makes a difference, try it this year and see the happiness it brings to the children in your life.