Sunday, November 24, 2013

3 Thanksgiving Tips for Blended Families

Blended families often come with many many challenges and the stress of the holidays can only exacerbate them. 
Here are my top 3 Child-Centered Thanksgiving tips for blended families:

COMMUNICATE- Obviously communication is key. With extended family, ex-spouses, and the lot. But communication with your CHILD is paramount. Explaining the day's schedule, who is expected to attend, where you are going, and how long you expect to be there OR how long you expect others to be at your home will help reduce the anxiety that can build up in your child. This is especially true for children under age 6 and those with physical, mental, or behavioral struggles and those that spend the day with newly blended families as there are likely to be a lot of strangers around. Information should come from BOTH biological parents if possible. It is extra comforting for a child if they also know what the parent that they aren't spending the day/weekend with is doing. The more information they have the better. Leave your feelings at the door and be as factual, logical, and loving as possible.

ALLOW YOUR CHILD TO EXPRESS THEIR FEELINGS WITHOUT SHAME OR GUILT- All children- regardless of age are entitled to their feelings- whether you like their feelings or agree with them is irrelevant. Respecting their emotions, even negative ones, teaches them respect in return. It shows them that you love and support them unconditionally, and isn't that what we as human beings regardless of age crave the most? If little Sally misses the parent that isn't in attendance or doesn't have custody that day don't take it personally! This isn't about you. Your child loves you too and would probably be crying for you instead if the tables were turned.  Hug her, love her, acknowledge her feelings ("I can see that you miss your Mom and that makes you sad.") and then reiterate your love for her and redirect her attention to something positive. ("I love you and I'm here for you *hugs* and we'll get through this together... let's go see what Grandpa is doing!)

DON'T BE A SLAVE TO THE CALENDAR- Yes, Thanksgiving is nationally dedicated to the last Thursday of the month, but that doesn't mean that your family needs to celebrate it on THAT particular day. It is important that your child(ren) gets to celebrate that holiday with as many sides of the family as possible. If your ex has them on the national holiday, schedule yours the weekend after, before, or a couple days after/before. The holiday is about tradition, family togetherness, and thankfulness- and all 3 can be celebrated on any day of the year.

These are just a few tips- but I'd LOVE to hear how you celebrate your blended family Thanksgiving as I'm sure other readers would too.. Sound off your tips and traditions in the comment section below! 

and as always... 


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