When you think of blended families and the holidays, it’s normal to feel panic or even some anxiety. I myself still feel that way sometimes now as a parent and often felt that way as a child. As a child of divorce, I’d like to think that I know a thing or two about having to divide holidays and special events between two parents I love. Now as a stepmother myself, I not only gained a new appreciation for my own parents but a whole new perspective on just how strong and selfless parents and stepparents really are. What I really know is just how brave parents who are in blended situations are. And how much these brave parents love their children.
Communication and Effective Planning
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been very strategic and intentional with my planning. It’s what has helped me in my professional life, but most importantly it is what has helped my own blended family thrive year-round. When I learned that communication wasn’t very effective prior to me joining my blended family, I knew that I needed to bring my experience to the table. Thankfully, my stepdaughter’s mom was all in and very welcoming of me in her daughter’s life. Luckily for me (and most importantly, my stepdaughter), she has 4 parents and 2 siblings on both sides who love her and want the best for her. Even when she may not think it’s what’s “fair.” In the end, it’s fair to all of us.
We keep a family calendar in our kitchen so plans are clearly indicated for everyone. We color code and use initials to help identify who is affected by which plan. My boyfriend and his ex-wife also have a parenting plan that we try to follow as much as humanly possible. This helps avoid confusion and then there is enough time to plan accordingly for events and holidays all year long. That way, whenever plans aren’t going to work with the schedule or may interfere with the other parent’s plan, we communicate.
I know that my blended family situation is not the same for all blended families. I can’t imagine how hard and frustrating that must be. My heart is with you and I encourage you to seek legal assistance through Family Court Services in our 11th Judicial Circuit. Our circuit offers a user-friendly website that can help guide you.
Be Flexible and Be Kind
Remember that these are the holidays and we all tend to be a little more chipper than usual during these times. But being flexible and kind should start in your home, within your family, and all year long. We need to remember that divorce ends a relationship, not a family. And since your kids are going to be your kids for the rest of your life, the least we can do is TRY to be flexible and kind.
Our kids are watching us. Just as I was watching my parents. I didn’t know that I myself would end up being a stepmother. Luckily, I had such great examples of how to conduct myself, coordinate, and practice good communication. I hope to continue to pass down the tradition and help someone who finds themselves in a blended family.