By Tammy Ruggles
Holidays can be a fun, meaningful, and hectic time for families everywhere, given the rush of cooking, traveling, and shopping. But blended families have a unique set of challenges during the holidays that other families do not.
- Custody Challenges
Custody challenges are sure to arise during the holidays, as both parents want to spend time with their children, and vice versa. Both parents can avoid the headache and heartache of potential disagreements and confusion by talking beforehand about schedules. Splitting the time 50/50 isn’t always possible if there is a great distance between homes. A phone call, text, or face-to-face chat between the parents about scheduling prior to the holidays can lead to happy times.
- Making holidays special for the kids on divided time
Some things you can do to make holidays special for kids on divided time include letting the kids call their other parent to say hello, devoting as much time as you can with your children while they’re at your house, and talking about the other parent in a positive way.
- Connecting with your kids while apart
A quick FaceTime or text while your kids are with their other parent is a nice way to stay connected and show that they are remembered during the special times of the holidays.
- Making new traditions
Blended families mean forming new relationships, having new family members, and new friends. This is also true for creating new traditions. Help your children be open-minded about new traditions, while keeping some of the previous customs they’re familiar with.
- Dealing with a high-conflict co-parent
It would be a wonderful world if all parents were pros at co-parenting. But, let’s face it: some parents refuse to speak to one another, or, if they do, conflict and arguments ensue. This can make for some unhappy holidays, but things can run much smoother if you have a liaison to relay information and help you plan holiday details like transportation, exchanging gifts, pick-up/drop-off times, etc. This mediator can be a grandparent, aunt, mutual friend, or someone both parents know and trust.
- New family identity and letting go of the past
The truth is, holidays can be a little blue for children dealing with a recent divorce or remarriage of parents. New bonds are made, while others seem to have been left behind. It’s important to help your child embrace his/her new family identity and let go of the past. This can come with a few tears, but offer an understanding ear and let them know it’s okay to remember and cherish what ‘s been lost.
Above all, knowing what to expect and proper preparation are keys to happier holidays when it comes to blended families. Be open to your child’s emotions, questions, and concerns.
If you feel that you need extra support and resources for your blended family during the upcoming holidays, Circle4Parents offers a parenting session with Coach Jamie – Talking to Your Little One About Divorce – Dec. 18th.