Modern Family Prep for the Holidays

There’s a reason most of our holiday celebrations are about as far from a Norman Rockwell painting as you can get – the family unit has evolved. Today’s modern family encompasses extended family members, single parents, gay parents and adopted children, not to mention often a mix of races, ethnicities, and religious beliefs. Which means our holidays are often a blending of backgrounds, experiences and traditions which can be a beautiful thing. But it can also bring challenges, especially if this blending is recent, for example, due to a divorce or remarriage. If so, these tips can help your modern family prep for the holidays.

  1.  Be flexible – While holiday traditions are often some of the dearest to our heart, it’s important to be open to modifying and creating new traditions as well. If you won’t have the kids on New Year’s Eve this year, find a way to make the days you do have before or after the holiday just as special. If your step children will be with you on Christmas Day for the first time, find out how you can incorporate some of their traditions into yours so they will feel more comfortable and connected.
  2. Plan ahead – With your co-parent, new spouse, extended family members, and whomever else will be involved in your holiday celebrations this year. By communicating openly ahead of time there won’t be any surprises or false assumptions which alone will make the holidays much smoother and less stressful. Get the kids involved too because knowing what to expect will decrease their anxiety as well.
  3. Be realistic – If this is your first holiday season as a divorced or blended family, keep your expectations in check. It won’t be perfect, and trying to make it so could end up backfiring spectacularly. That doesn’t mean the holidays won’t be special or wonderful in their own way, just that no one in the family needs the extra pressure where you’re all still adjusting to a new reality.
  4. Avoid competition – If you’re divorced or a new step parent, it’s natural to want the kids to look forward to time with you over the holidays. And, let’s be honest, you’d like them to enjoy it the best, are we right? But, don’t fall into the trap of getting into a competition over who gives the best gifts, who does the most fun activities, or who is the laxest with the rules. Again, it could backfire, not to mention you’re setting expectations you likely won’t be able to keep up each and every year going forward.
  5. Encourage honesty – From the adults to the kids let everyone know that it’s ok to feel how they feel and to share that, in a healthy way of course. Transitions are hard, especially during the holidays. If a family member or members are struggling this year, it’s important they feel comfortable talking about it instead of faking it through the season and letting resentment build. And it’s equally important those feelings are acknowledged and validated.
  6. Remember not all things change – After divorce or remarriage, it often seems like everything is different which can leave you feeling adrift or unsettled, even if the changes are for the better. But remember, even though the circumstances are different this holiday season, you’re still a family and while your celebrations may be bigger (or smaller) now, there’s still much to be thankful for, like the love you have for each other!

Mediation Can Help Your Modern Family 

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, co-parenting challenges remain. Instead of arguing through the holiday season, you might consider mediation in which a neutral third party helps you to work together to reach an amicable agreement. In fact, our mediation services are 100 percent virtual for added flexibility and convenience during this hectic time of year.

For additional information on how our online mediation services can help your modern family prep for the holidays, contact today to learn more.

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