6 Tips to Survive Blended Family Holidays
Christmas, Family, Family Dynamics, Guest Post

6 Tips to Survive Blended Family Holidays

6 Tips to Survive Blended Family Holidays

I can’t think of any person that gets married and has children with the intention of getting a divorce. Consequently, the shear idea of breaking a family a part and having “yours, mine, and ours” kids is not something anyone sees coming. Other times, children are born into a family where their parents are not married and over time one, or both parents, marry someone else. Unfortunately, blended families are real and is happens frequently, even among Christ followers.

As a remarried mommy of 8 children, the holidays are an extremely interesting and sometimes stressful time of year. After the initial tension, anger, and sadness of the divorce and my remarriage settled, it became obvious of one thing. Our children were the ones who were really bearing the weight of being in a blended family. It took countless tears from my children for myself, husband, and my ex-husband, to realize that something had to change. We needed to make an adjustment to “how” we were handling the holidays. After family meetings and extensive conversations, we came up with 6 Tips to Survive Blended Family Holidays.

6 Tips to Survive Blended Family Holidays

It’s Not About You

This first tip is probably the most important. When a parent decides to remarry, they are so over the moon with finding a new love and being able to move on from the past. Children’s feelings are many times overlooked. The parents don’t take time check in with the vast emotions their children are dealing with. During the holidays, children are told (either by courts or their parents) where they will be spending the holidays. Depending on the circumstances, children should have a voice in this decision. Children in blended families are the innocent bystanders of the failed relationship. No matter the dynamics between adults, the best interest of  children should be considered when making decisions. Their voice should be heard and validated.

Don’t Insist of Having Control

As someone who LOVES being in control, this is probably my greatest struggle. I want things they way I want them because I feel it is the best solution. After becoming a blended family, I had to learn to acknowledge and validate the feelings and opinions of my children and my ex-husband. All adults involved, who truly feel the best interest of the children is the most important thing, will humble themselves and be willing to relinquish control. This tip doesn’t mean you have to be miserable or only agreeable. It just means, you are willing to accept that your solution my not be the best or most practical solution for the holidays.

Be Respectful

Have you ever found yourself arguing with your ex or the new spouse of your ex in front of your children? Do you find yourself bad mouthing your ex or their spouse in front of your children? Both scenarios are detrimental to the overall health and well being of your children. Being in a blended family is already difficult. Children are shifted back and forth between homes, constantly readjusting to the norms and rules of each home, and even missing out on events or activities due to visitation schedules. Listening to parents verbally assault their other parent or step parent, being placed in the middle of an adult argument, or even asked to pick sides is unfair. Make a commitment to be respectful of your ex and/or their spouse, their family holiday traditions, and their gifts or lack of gifts. Children should not have to be little grownups.

Make a Plan

In many instances, during divorce proceedings or a separation, visitation and custody plans are addressed or determined. At times, weeks, weekends, holidays, and vacation time is haphazardly assigned without the consideration for children or the reality of the lives of children. In a blended family, taking time to touch base with all parties and making a realistic plan is essential to reducing stress and chaos. Are some holidays bigger experiences than others in a family? Where do the children want to spend the holiday? Which home is more feasible? All of these questions are necessary when planning. Taking time to discuss and plan long before the holidays season arrives will create a more peaceful atmosphere and will help everyone prepare without unexpected changes.

Create a New Tradition

Growing up, Christmas time was such a wonderful time of year. The entire month of December was filled with activities, such as, driving through the neighborhood looking at decorations, making Christmas chocolates, my Aunts famous homemade cookies, and more! I remember every Christmas morning, we would wake up extremely early, open presents, call our grandparents and our close friends to chat about all of the things we got. My mother would then serve homemade waffles with all the fixings. Through the years, my brother and I have continued many of these same traditions with our own children, right down to the homemade waffles.

After my ex-husband and I divorced, we realized we both wanted to be a part of Christmas morning. We stepped out on a limb and my ex-husband decided he would arrive before the kids woke up, open presents together, and enjoy Christmas breakfast all together. When I remarried, my husband humbled himself, knew that this day was about the happiness of the children he also calls his own, and opened his home and heart to my ex-husband. Although the whole thing is strange to many, our tradition is the perfect fit for our family.

In a blended family, someone will most likely be without the children on the holiday. Does this mean the beauty of the holiday has to become non-existent? Absolutely not. This is the perfect time to create new traditions! Celebrate the holiday on a different day, if logistics permit celebrate the holiday in the morning and in the evening. The options are endless. Thanksgiving can consist of a family breakfast buffet at one house and dinner at the other house and Christmas presents can be opened in the evening or on Christmas Eve. Step out of the norm and do what makes the most sense for your family.

Remember the Reason for the Season

It is so easy to get caught up in the commercialism of the holiday season that we forget why we celebrate the holiday at all. Taking time to reflect on things we have to be thankful for during Thanksgiving and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas is the Reason for the Season. Despite the circumstances of becoming a blended family, keeping the reason at the forefront of your mind will help you to stay focused and positive. If you end up with your children for the holiday, encourage them to reach out to their other parent. If you end up without your kiddos for the holiday, try celebrating with someone who has no family or friends, volunteer to serve at a shelter, take a meal to an elderly neighbor or family in need. Be the hands and feet of Jesus.

There is no doubt about it, blended families are challenging! No book, article, or person can give you the answer to what works best for your family. Keeping your children’s best interest first and having an open and humble heart will save your family a lot of stress during this holiday season.

CHIME IN: What tips do you have for blended families during the holidays?

Need a few gift ideas for the kids to give? Check out 8 DIY Christmas Gifts from Kids

 

 

 

 

The Fatherless Father's Day
Family, Family Dynamics

The Fatherless Father’s Day

The Friday before Father’s Day at school finally arrived. “Tell us about your dad, Christel” Mrs. Brown excitedly said. I remember standing before my 1st grade class with tears in my eyes. “Tell them about my dad? What was I going to say?” I stood quietly, hoping she would just skip me for not answering quickly enough. My clasped hands started to sweat as I shifted my weight from one foot to another. Softly, I said, “He is really nice.” I hurriedly sat down in my seat.

Father’s Day Without a Father

This Sunday, I will celebrate my 40th Fatherless Father’s Day. Four months before I was born, my father was killed in active duty in Germany, while my mother was pregnant with me. The darkness surrounding my entrance into the world was something that I felt for many years after I was born. There was always an unspoken void in our home that could not be filled by anyone. No matter how hard my mother and family tried, I always felt that I was missing something…someone.

I was always told stories about how amazing my father was, about his kindness, and how much I resembled him. The well-meaning sentiments of others did absolutely nothing to fill the emptiness that I faced on multiple occasions. Daddy Daughter Dances, being called Daddy’s Little Girl, the Father Daughter Dance at my wedding, and Father’s Day were always the most emotionally stressful times in my life.

The presence of a father is something that is critical to the natural development of a child. God’s perfect design for families ensures that children receive a delicate balance of nurturing from both a loving mother and a loving father. Fathers are innately designed to protect and cover their family.

Throughout my life, my longing to be loved and protected, caused me to make bad decisions and place myself in situations that left me feeling emptier than before. No matter how hard I tried to fill the void of my father, nothing worked. My search for love led me into abusive situations, suicidal tendencies, low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.

The Impact of Fathers

My life, as well as the lives of many children around the world, is a living testament to research conducted on Fatherless Children. According to a report in “Fathers and Their Impact on Children’s Well-Being”:

Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections.

Don’t get me wrong! My mother was and is one of the best mothers in the world. Her ability to love me, mold me, and lead me is what, I believe, kept me in some of my darkest moments. However, she was unable to show me the love of a father. According to the 2017 U.S. Census Bureau, 1 out of 4 children are being raised without a father. My heart breaks hearing those numbers because I know first hand what it feels like to be a Fatherless Child.

Over the years, Father’s Day was just another day for me. I had no reason to celebrate, make cute crafts, or find a tacky tie for my father. So, I acted like it was no big deal. I even tried sending my mother a Father’s Day card using the rationalization that she was both my father and mother. None of these things worked to fill my void.

Almost 4 years ago, I met an amazing man.  He listened to all my stories, accepted my personal baggage, and loved me for who I was. I remember spending hours just talking with him. It was like I had known him all my life. After 37 years, I was finally, “Daddy’s Princess!”

“Father to the fatherless, defender of widows–this is God, whose dwelling is holy.” Psalm 68:5

Yes! I grew up knowing about this man, Jesus Christ, but I never really met him. I never realized how amazing it was to be loved by our heavenly Father. Everything that I was searching for all my life, was fulfilled in an instant. God’s love for me is so indescribable and unexplainable that I no longer feel empty inside. Although my dad was unable to be with me throughout my life, God was always there. Despite the circumstance that surrounds a child becoming fatherless, there are:

3 Keys to Supporting Fatherless Children:

  • Acknowledge and validate the void of the absence of a father in a child’s life.

No matter the age, a person who lost their father or never had a father feels the emptiness in even the smallest ways. Helping that person acknowledging and validating their feelings is important to helping them grieve their loss.

  • It’s okay to grieve.

Just because a person did not lose their father in a tragedy doesn’t mean they do not go through the 5 stages of grief (You can learn about those HERE). Some people say, “you can’t miss what you never had.” This is not true when it comes to the absence or loss of a father. Allow a person to move through the process. Seeking counseling from a professional is nothing to be ashamed of and may ultimately be what is needed to heal.

  • Meet Your Heavenly Father

God loves each and everyone of His children so much that he sent His only son to die on the cross so that we all could spend eternity with Him. By introducing your child (or even yourself) to God, you will find a relationship with a Father who loves you for who you are. It doesn’t matter what you have done or been through, He is waiting to love you with open arms.

 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

So, this Father’s Day, when everyone is posting on social media about their amazing dads, don’t feel left out. Tell them about your Father. Tell them He is with you 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Let them know your Father hung the sun, moon, and the stars in the sky. Put a post online that you are the child of a King and “The earth and everything in it exists for the LORD the world and those who live in it.  Indeed, he founded it upon the seas, he established it upon deep waters.” (Psalm 24:1-2).  Lastly, share that your Father is the King of All Kings, the Beginning and the Ending, and the Alpha and Omega.

 

To those who feel that they are a Fatherless Child, Celebrate Father’s Day!

Your Daddy is the Best of them all!

 

 


 

Christel is a wife and mommy to 8 exceptional children When she isn’t busy with her squad, you can find her blogging at Perfectly Blended and Blessed or on Facebook.  She spends her days homeschooling their youngest 6, running the families non-profit organization, Focusing on Families, Inc., working as an Educational Consultant, and finding ways to be the “Chaos Coordinator” in their ever so crazy and quirky blended family.

 

 

 

 

A Blended Thanksgiving
Family, Family Dynamics

High Power Blending

High Power Blending

When various foods are placed into a blender, they each have their own individual taste and textures. As the blending process starts, each food begins to breakdown and merge with the other ingredient. Over time, the ingredients are mixed together to form one scrumptious new food.

Bringing two families together to form a new one is very similar to the blending process. The traditions, norms, values, and experiences of each family is thrown into the blender. Both families undergo a high powered dose of mixing and grinding in an effort to successfully create a delectable “new” family.

 

This process doesn’t come without its difficulties and often takes time. As a Blended family, things aren’t always easy. Sometimes, there are rifts, disagreements, and arguments between children or between step parents and step kids.

Even in our dynamics, things are still not as good as they could be. We are still in the blender and the motor is still on high! However, at this point in the blending process, we are still Perfectly Blended and Blessed.