Blended Families, co-parents, stepdad, Stepfamily, stepmom

10 Practical Strategies for Combining Holiday & Blended Family Traditions

Eating Thanksgiving meal at Grandma’s house. Opening presents with your children on Christmas morning. Celebrating the New Year with family and friends. Traditions are important to us because they connect us to our family, and the expected custom or ritual provides security in our lives. When traditions are broken or changed, something dies inside of us. Have you ever changed or broken a family tradition? How did you feel about it? Maybe you had no idea just how important that tradition was until you couldn’t or didn’t do it anymore.

Family identity is very much tied to traditions. Stepfamilies can often times find themselves torn between “your” family traditions and “my” family traditions, and trying to figure out new blended family traditions. The fighting to keep the traditions alive often leads to conflict and disconnect. Finding common ground for traditions requires time and a great deal of flexibility, especially for the parents and stepparents.

Holiday traditions put co-parent relationships to the test. If you’re not on good terms with your wasband or waswife you can forget about negotiating time for the kids over the holidays. Holiday experiences open the underlying hidden dynamics of stepfamily life. Parents pressuring their children regarding how much time they will have together and how travel plans are made lead to loyalty conflicts and issues of loss which can easily spoil the joyous season for children. Be compassionate and empathetic for the children’s sadness over traditions lost and memories from previous family holidays. Understand that they are getting used to new traditions, different food, and being with strangers in unfamiliar homes.

Here are 10 practical strategies for combining holiday and blended family traditions for you and your family.

  1. Be flexible and make sacrifices. Being flexible means you can adjust, change, or sacrifice old traditions during a given year in order to give your stepfamily time to develop new ones. You can’t make everyone happy all the time. Accepting this takes away the pressure to give everyone what they want. Showing a willingness to sacrifice sets the example for your children and or stepchildren. If you won’t, why should they, right?

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Blended Families, co-parents, stepdad, Stepfamily, stepmom

Co-Parents Answered Prayers

Today is my daughter and my wasbands birthday. My daughter surprised us 27 years ago and decided to arrive two weeks early on August 9th…her father’s birthday. Happy birthday to both of you! This blog is dedicated to my daughter and my wasband. If any of you have read my book, RECONCILED: A Story of Divorce, Redemption, and a Blended Family United, you know about our blended family story and how God answered my prayers. He healed our hearts, reconciled us to each other, and united our blended family.

After I wrote my book, God put it upon my heart to start a ministry. I felt compelled to help other blended families heal, reconcile, and unite as our blended family had done. With much prayer and meditation, Blended Families United ministry became my answered prayer. Blended Families United became a Member Ministry of Ministry Alliance on April 19, 2018. In the five short months of becoming a ministry, God has answered prayers for some of the stepcouples, who area also co-parents, from the Smart Stepfamily classes and The Smart Stepfamily Marriage study groups by Ron Deal that I teach. I’m so excited and grateful for the miracles God has done in these blended families! I want to share with you a few stories of how God answered their prayers and performed miracles in their blended families.

Bill and Kim’s Story

Bill and Kim (names changed to protect their privacy) have been married for four years. It is Kim’s second marriage and Bill’s first marriage. Kim has two children from her first marriage and her and Bill have a child together. They attended the Smart Stepfamily Marriage study group. In the study group, they shared the challenges they were having with Kim’s co-parent not cooperating with them and how they were trying to avoid arguments with him. Bill and Kim were both exhausted and stressed. At the end of each class, we prayed for each couple that God would help them to apply what they had learned and to bless them as a couple and their blended family. Several months went by and I hadn’t talked to Bill or Kim at church. One day, I saw them talking outside of the sanctuary. They shared with me how they invited Kim’s wasband to come to church with them for Easter. “How wonderful!” I exclaimed. A few more months went by when I ran into them in the hallway at church. They proceeded to tell me that Kim’s co-parent was reading the book The Smart Stepfamily and that he wanted to attend a Smart Stepfamily class. Kim said to me, “See, Bobbi, the work you’re doing is making a difference.”   

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Blended Families, Stepfamily, stepmom

Do You Think Stepmoms Should Be Acknowledged on Mothers Day?

Are you a stepmom? Maybe your spouse is a stepmom to your children or you know someone who is a stepmom. Holidays are often challenging for blended families and Mother’s Day is one holiday that may trigger sadness for stepmoms. And, children and grandparents may find this day uncomfortable.

Although I’m not a stepmom, I appreciate and acknowledge stepmoms. My kids, who are adult now, had a stepmom growing up. Their stepmom didn’t have any children of her own. My kids were her children which really irked me. My son said to me one day, “Mom why do you hate “Name” so much? I thought about his question for a while. I realized that my personal feelings about his dad and the hurt from the past had gotten in the way of me being grateful for the woman that was helping to raise our children. I asked myself, “What am I grateful for about this woman that is helping to raise our children?” So, I made a list. I wrote down everything I could think of that I was grateful for about her.

I’m grateful that she takes the children to school and picks them up. I’m grateful she disciplines them when they need to be corrected. I’m grateful she makes them meals. I’m grateful she takes them shopping to buy school supplies and clothes (this one was difficult for me because I was jealous that she had the money to take our kids shopping and buy them things that I couldn’t afford to buy them). I’m grateful she helps them with their school work and supports them in their extracurricular activities; basketball, motorcycle races, singing, school plays, etc. I then decided to act on my gratitude. So, I bought her a candle (I knew she was into candles). I put it in a cute bag (moms/stepmoms, you know us woman like cute bags and tissue paper) and I bought a nice card. Inside the card, I simply wrote, “Thank you for being a “mom” to our kids.” That was it. I handed it to her during our exchange of kids. A week later, I received a Thank You card from her that said, “Thank you for the candle and card. It meant a lot to me. I know how difficult it must have been for you to do that.” Our relationship transformed after that. It wasn’t perfect but there seemed to be a shift in our attitudes towards one another and a mutual respect.

So, do you think stepmoms should be acknowledged on Mothers Day? (You can reply below) I do. I learned that no matter how much I thought my kid’s stepmom was evil and vindictive, I found several things to be grateful for about her, and it changed our relationship for the better just a little.

If your kids have a stepmom or your wife is a stepmom or you’re a grandparent whose grandchildren have a stepmom, or maybe you are the stepmom and you can’t stand the biological child/ children’s mother, I invite you to find things to be grateful for that they do for the children you both love and are raising together.

Blessings to you Mothers and Stepmoms on Mothers Day.

Bobbi

 

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