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Family Matters

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Linda Mintle, Ph.D. is a licensed marriage and family therapist, author of 16 books, a national expert on family issues and the psychology of food and weight. She's an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School, a national speaker, writer, and news contributor.

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10 Holiday Tips for Blended Families

Bob and Rose are a blended family now. They, like so many other families, are asking for ways to make the holidays better in terms of that blending.

Here are 10 tips to handle the holidays:

1. Examine your expectations and let go of any  ”Brady Bunch” fantasies. Most disappointments come from unrealistic expectations. With blended families, there are numerous issues that get triggered during the holidays. So talk about expectations and make them known.

2. Continue “old” holiday traditions with your biological kids while creating new ones with the stepfamily. This helps the children ease into the new. This can ease the pain of loss for the children. And it builds new traditions that they can look forward to in coming years.

3. If the kids don’t feel the holiday cheer, try to see the world from their point of view. They have lost the old and are adjusting to the new. Eventually, they will adjust.

4. Practice the fine art of silence when your stepfamily is stressed by the holidays. You don’t have to share all your negative feelings.

5. Don’t compete with your children’s “other” parents by showering kids with expensive gifts. This can be tempting but really isn’t effective in the long run. Kids want your and your attention, not stuff!

6. Stepmoms, reach out to your stepkids’ mother. Buy her a gift. Tell her you appreciate her children. (OK, this is optional!)

7. Don’t fight with ex-spouses about how much time you will spend with children over the holidays. It only hurts the children. This should be discussed and planned for ahead of time so children are not caught in the middle.

8. Invite your ex-spouses over for a holiday party. Brace for surprises. This is gutsy move if you can pull it off.

9. Join a stepparent support group to share the many feelings about “family” that come up during the holiday season. This helps you feel less overwhelmed and that you are not alone dealing with the common issues of blending a family.

10. Pray and be patient. Blending takes on average, 2-4 years of adjustment time. Ask God for the wisdom you need, to continue to make you more like Him, always extending grace and exercising forgiveness when needed.

Print      Email to a Friend    posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 4:57 PM

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