Building Traditions That Bond
For blending families, there are a lot of “but we always did it this way” challenges that come during the Christmas season, whether it’s about food, gift giving, visiting and traveling, or even decorating. Younger children may adapt fairly easily to your new blending family Christmases, while older children may want everything the way it was and try to sabotage your holidays, your relationship, and the potential for creating a healthy blending family holiday—if you aren’t proactive in preparing for the holiday adventures.
One of the couples in our book, Tom and Megan, learned this the hard way. Since Megan moved into Tom’s home when they remarried, Tom’s kids had a hard time adjusting to any changes or renovations that happened in “their home”, even though they were adult kids living elsewhere! They even had expectations of having a Christmas tree in a certain place and continuing other family traditions, so they had to work through all that.
In hindsight, it would have been more proactive for Tom and Megan to discuss the reality that they were making a new home together but the kids would always be welcome. It would have also been important to get their kids input early on and understand their expectations and deal with them wisely. But they just didn’t know any of this would be such a big deal. So talking about the holidays ahead of time might have made an easier first Christmas for all of them.
The truth is, building new traditions that bond you together as a family can be difficult, but it’s well worth the effort. Whether expectations stem from gender, family culture, or individual personalities, or whether they come from your past histories, it’s important to know how they may affect your relationship and your holidays.
So be proactive. As a couple, talk about how you did things in the past, and then brainstorm how you might want to do things now. And be sure to talk to the kids about what’s most important for them.
Perhaps putting the tree in the same place is critically important to one child, or maybe it’s not a big deal at all. But unless you hear everyone’s hearts and decide what’s is reasonable and doable, it’s easy to hurt or offend others without even knowing it!
It might be best to gather everyone’s ideas, write them all down in order of importance, and then let each person choose one tradition that’s most important to him or her. But also consider finding one or two new traditions that are special and unique to your new blending family. God can use your holiday expectations to draw you closer, and you can build traditions that can bond you together.
Check out The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness and Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage for more ways to strengthen your marriage. Copyright © 2012, all rights reserved.
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