We’re getting close to the holidays now! This week we will be helping blended families plan for the upcoming Christmas holiday.
What does the term “blended family” mean?
A blended family is essentially a household that’s made up of two people in a relationship where they bring their children from outside of the relationship into the household, and they may even add in children also borne of this new relationship. It can also be known as a step-family, or as the term ABC made famous, the “Modern Family”.
What do you recommend as far as old versus new traditions?
We talked a bit about this in Part 2 (for newly-separated families) and Part 3 (for long-separated families).
As a first step when your children go from a one-household family to a two-household family, there may have been some old traditions carried over, and some new ones created. Now that you’re adjusting your household again to add more people to the mix, you’ll want to consider again the question of what traditions get kept and what new ones are created.
You and your kids should sit down with your partner and their kids, and talk about what the holidays have looked like to each of you up to now, and then once you’ve both had an opportunity to hear the other’s experiences, you can decide what this year will look like.
Although the holidays are often about family time, not every activity has to be done together. If half of you wants to keep certain old traditions going, there’s no harm in doing that. Be sure that the kids know that it’s ok to keep those old traditions alive. They will need reassurance from the adults.
Family traditions are often very special for the children – if you can keep the old ones that are special, and create new ones that are special to your blended family, then it’s a win-win!
Gift-giving tips for blended families
I would recommend that parents and step-parents keep the gifts as equitable as possible in the household. It’s best if you and your partner can agree on the basics of gift giving – such as:
- How much to spend per child
- How many gifts to give per child
- Who will arrange which gifts
Remember that anything “family” oriented should include all siblings in the household – not only your own children. Of course, there’s something to be said for children giving something to their biological parent, but if it’s something for the “family”, every child should be included.
Family gathering recommendations for blended families
It seems that so many family gatherings nowadays are filled with a variety of relationships – some one-household families, some blended families, some single parent families, and more.
Every family has its own dynamics. It’s important when considering which family gatherings to attend, besides having to worry about COVID-related gathering restrictions, think about what gatherings will bring your blended family the most joy, and what will further your sense of family?
There are plenty of toxic relationships to be had in every family, I recommend that blended families steer clear of being in the same surroundings at the same time as those who will add toxicity to your holiday celebrations.
Extra tips for families new to the blending
My number one recommendation is to give the whole family time to adjust to how to spend the holidays together as a family. If you and your partner keep your expectations in-check, then it will allow for the beauty of the season to shine through.
Step-siblings need time to adjust to one another and to the traditions that follow families of origin, and to learn how to blend the holidays together in a new household.
If you can allow some time for separate family fun, just parent and their biological children, and some time with the family as a whole, it gives everyone the space to enjoy each of the groupings.
Check out our other holiday blogs:
- Part 1 – Holiday Parenting – For Families Considering Separation or Divorce
- Part 2 – Holiday Parenting – For Newly Separated or Divorced Families
- Part 3 – Holiday Parenting – For Long-Time Separated or Divorced Families
Henka Divorce Law & Mediation is a Collaborative Law and Family Mediation firm that helps families thrive as they transition to separation, divorce, or cohabitation. Understanding that every journey is different, we guide families through the right legal or mediation process that fits their unique situation.
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