Friday, December 23, 2011

Maintaining traditions in a blended family

When special occasions come around in your new blended family, are you excited or filled with dread? Do you wonder how you will manage to devote time to traditions held by the rest of your family? When holidays roll around, do you drag your step family somewhere, or do you hold an event at your house? Here are some basic tips to help with those decisions.

Boundaries in your blended family
Sure, your own parents can be demanding at times, but that does not mean you and your blended family have to spend your holiday at their house every year. It is important to show love and consideration to your parents, but they have to realize that your first obligations now are to your blended family. There is nothing wrong with setting limits with each of your parents.

NO is not a dirty word
It is OK to say no to your family. If the schedule for your blended family is too busy, you cannot afford the trip, or one of your kids or step kids is ill, it is perfectly acceptable to stay home for the holidays. When your parents ask if you are coming home for a holiday, remind them that you ARE home. Creating new traditions in your step family is, and should be, your first priority.

Having a baby
Families have differing views on handling the birth of a baby. Some see it as a private time for mom and dad, while others expect the entire family is welcome in the delivery room with video cameras. There is no right answer, and should be decided by you and your spouse. However, due to the circumstances, mom should have the final say.

Does any of this actually matter?
Of course it does! A blended family, step kids, a step mom or step dad, and possibly a new baby; this makes navigating family events complicated. Now that you have a stepfamily, your parents will expect to spend time with you, and with them, too. The love you hold for your parents is wonderful and valuable, but it is also important to set some boundaries in relation to your blended family.

How can I make my parents understand this?
Thank them for the great job they did in bringing you up. Let them know you understand and appreciate all the sacrifices they made to provide you with a happy family and a loving home. You can then tell them that it is your turn now. Now it is time for you to demonstrate the great parenting skills they taught you and use them with your own step or blended family.

It is time to make your own traditions with your blended family. Talk with your spouse to find out what makes family events special in their family, and incorporate those aspects into your new family celebrations. Remember that you and your spouse are the bosses in your blended family, and the decision on how you spend your holidays is entirely yours.

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