- Dr. David A. Swift
- 2001 12 Dec
Stepfamilies can find this time of the year to be very trying. Two homes, distance, time and even divorce papers can play a big role with children and how they spend their holidays. Schedules range from splitting the day, to splitting their Christmas break from school, to no time at all with one of the parents. It can be very frustrating, even maddening trying to coordinate family events around the limited time you have your children.
In our divorced family, we actually have three families to think about during the holidays. My stepson lives with his Dad, while my daughter and stepdaughter live with us. Trying to get everyone together at the same time has become very difficult. We are finding it even harder now as our children our growing into their mid to late teens. We are finding they have opinions too.
My daughter travels to her Mom's for the week between Christmas and New Years. This used to be easy as we had Christmas morning with her and she got to spend the week with her Mom in a different state. Unfortunately, she doesn't have many friends, as her time to make friends there is very limited. She wants to come home early so she can spend the New Year celebration with her friends. She currently ends up sitting with her two younger half brothers during New Year's Eve. As you can imagine, her mom is not too keen on the idea of an early departure. My stepson, who is 17, has a wonderful opportunity to travel during the holidays with his Aunt and Uncle, which will delay his normal arrival to our home. This will cause him to miss Christmas morning with us. On top of all of this, my family wants us to visit, and my wife's family wants us to visit, and the list goes on.
So how do families with all these strings pull the holidays together? First, we remember the reason for the season, second, we keep in mind that the decisions we are making are for the children and not for us, and third, flexibility. It has become the hallmark of scheduling.
Since our first nine years as a new blended family where spent with my daughter at her Mom's, we had to wait until after Christmas day to celebrate. Early, we decided as a family that Christmas was not about a certain day of December, but about the birth of our Christ, and being together as a family. We learned that Christmas can be just as wonderful on the 27th as it is on the 25th. We created new traditions for our new family, and made whatever day, what is was intended to be.
Being in a stepfamily has heightened my awareness of how precious time is. I believe this has taught all of us that we don't have to wait to celebrate and that time together can not be taken for granted. Remember that "time" is just as precious for your child's other family. We don't live in a perfect world, and working together is the only way for everyone to win. Remember that you and your ex are the ones that divorced. Neither of you divorced the children. Work together for their sake, and always, always keep God and honor in front.