Developing closeness and cohesiveness in a step-family is an ongoing challenge for many people throughout the year. The holidays present a precious opportunity to bridge some gaps among members of the immediate family, as well as those of the extended family. Step-parents express a great deal of anxiety and concern over the upcoming holidays. They dread the potential onset of chaos shattering their expectations of a picture-perfect holiday experience.
The following 7 tips may help you and your step-family develop closeness, through careful planning of your holiday celebrations:
- Focus your step-family celebrations on fun-filled activities with your children.
- Create new traditions with your step-family.
- Establish, with your spouse, realistic expectations of your step-family members and festivities.
- Allow time for your step-children and biological children to transition between households.
- Plan, with your spouse, the budget, discipline methods, and couple time.
- Schedule self-care for ‘recharging your batteries’ during this hectic time.
- Create your desired vision for your step-family’s holiday experience.
1) Focus your step-family celebrations on fun-filled activities with your children.
Plan most of your holiday celebrations with your biological and stepchildren in mind. Plan for age-appropriate activities, geared at their different interests. It will help create warm memories and probably increase their cooperation in your household.
2) Create new traditions with your step-family.
Creating new traditions with your step-family is one of the most important things you can do to create a mutual history, which will increase closeness and belonging in all family members.
3) Establish, with your spouse, realistic expectations of your step-family members and festivities.
Expect comparisons between holiday celebrations in the present households and those of the former biological family. Allow the children to reminisce; it does not mean they oppose the step-family, but merely that they miss the comfort of familiarity in what used to be. You and your spouse need to clarify to one another your expectations of the upcoming holidays to your step-family.
4) Allow time for your step-children and biological children to transition between households.
Children who are members of two households need transition time when moving from one place to the other. The more different the parenting styles between the households, and the more guilt dished out at the children by a biological parent, the more complicated the transition will be. Allow them a few hours to settle in into your home without placing any demands on them.
5) Plan, as a couple, the budget, discipline methods, and couple time.
A strong couple who is clear on commitment, communication, and closeness is the cornerstone of your step-family’s success during the holidays and throughout the year. Each spouse must clearly and in a timely manner communicate thoughts, feelings, and observations regarding step-family functioning. Additionally, the couple can benefit greatly from a weekly date night, which helps them continue to nurture their bond.
6) Schedule self-care for ‘recharging your batteries’ during this hectic time.
Stress can and does accumulate quickly during the holidays. Please, pace yourself. Schedule time for recharging your batteries, separate from holiday festivities. You may schedule a massage, lunch with a trusted friend, or just a couple of hours to read a fun book.
7) Create your desired vision for your step-family’s holiday experience.
Finally, creating your desired vision for your step-family holiday experience may be the catalyst for the change you need. A vivid vision will help you focus on what you want to accomplish. Stay positive and take action to help it materialize.