Drug testing

The Post-Holiday Blues In Stepfamilies

In stepfamilies, big holiday expectations can lead to big disappointment--and post-holiday blues, says Susan Wisdom, a licensed professional counselor and co-author of "Stepcoupling."

As a stepmom, I know about expectations. Every year, just before the holidays, I start thinking about how to recreate Christmas Eve at my grandmother's house. In her big two-story home, my family and I crowded into her dining room and kitchen with about two dozen relatives. We munched on turkey, cranberries and dressing, then topped off the meal with my grandma's home-made cookies. With my 14 siblings and cousins, I played board games while my dad and uncles stomped around on the roof, yelling "Santa's coming!" much to our delight.

With these memories, it's easy to begin the holidays with huge expectations about what I want for my stepfamily. And it's easy to end the holidays with some sadness over how difficult it was to re-create the magic of my childhood.

"There are so many expectations and the hype is so big," says Wisdom. "It can be a real setup. In reality, Christmas is not perfect in traditional families. There's a lot of stress."

If your family is like ours, you may spend a lot of time negotiating with ex-spouses over who gets which kids--and when-- during the holidays. And if you family is like ours, you may be disappointed when kids announce they've already decorated two Christmas trees at their step-relatives' and refuse to do one more. Or they may arrive at your house exhausted from their "first" Christmas at the "other" house and may prefer napping to opening gifts.

In addition, a stepchild may reject a stepparent, Wisdom says. Adults may drink too much and behave in ways they later regret. A child's biological parent may complain that a stepparent has more money to spend on gifts, creating tension between a child's two homes.

As Shauna Haley, a stepmom in Portland, Oregon, says, "The holidays this year were such a painful reminder of our stepfamily situation-and how little influence I have on my stepdaughter's life." Her stepdaughter lives in another state, and only visited for a few days after Christmas this year. Haley had big dreams over how she would spend those few days with her stepdaughter, then was crushed when her dreams weren't realized and her stepdaughter was homesick.

To help stepfamilies cope with such disappointment, Wisdom recommends that parents begin by doing some "patch up work" after the holiday season. Talk to your spouse, ex-spouse and children about the issues that came up during the holidays.

"Reach out to your own children and each other's children. Understand what they were dealing with. Forgive them for fights or bad attitudes or moments of sibling rivalry that happen during the holidays under stress," Wisdom says. "Stepcouples need to be available to each other and to the children more than ever. This can be a hard time. Make amends, make apologies."

If parents find it difficult to talk with ex-spouses, this may be a good time to go to counseling with ex-spouses about the many issues that come up during the holidays, she says.

After trying to discuss the holidays with everyone involved, parents in stepfamilies should examine their expectations and consider toning them down next year. Wisdom recommends:

  • Keep it simple. Don't stress out. Perfectionism is not the goal. Peace and serenity are more important!
  • Don't over-commit. Your kids need you--not the 25 gifts you don't have time to wrap. Don't overload on activities, food and drink.
  • Plan ahead. Talk with your spouse about how you want to celebrate next year. Talk with your children's other biological parents about how to share holidays with your children.
  • Coordinate with ex-spouses over gift giving.
  • Keep old traditions and establish new ones.
  • Be flexible and cultivate a sense of humor. Laugh about the time your dog lapped up the spilled pudding!

In an effort to follow the above advice, I try to joke about the fact that my 16-year-old prefers his stepmom's cooking during the holidays. "She bakes pies and lets me eat milk products," he likes to tell me, with a smile in his eyes. Rather than donning an apron and gorging my son with sweets and allergy-producing foods, I remind him of the time my holiday squash cannon-balled out of the oven! That memory always makes us laugh, which is indeed a great antidote to the post-holiday blues.

Writer Lisa Cohn is co-author of "One Family, Two Family, New Family: Stories and Advice For Stepfamilies," which is a 2004 Gold National Parenting Publications Award winner. For more information, visit her at http://www.stepfamilyadvice.com.

In The News:

Russian spacewalkers have cut samples of material around a mysterious hole in a spacecraft docked on the International Space Station (ISS) that’s been at the center of sinister rumors and conspiracy theories.
NASA's Parker Solar Probe has made the closest-ever approach to a star (the sun) and shared an image of the sun's atmosphere on Twitter Thursday.
'Tis the season of snowy nights and reindeer pulling sleighs — except in the actual Arctic, where climate change is wreaking havoc on a real-world winter wonderland.
Long-lost cultures are sometimes known by the goods they leave behind. The Neolithic Corded Ware people of Europe, for example, got their name from the distinctive decorated pottery they made. If today's humans ever get a similar moniker, we might be known as the Chicken People.
The USS San Diego was the only major warship the U.S. lost during World War I. Now, nearly 100 years after it sank, and countless theories as to what caused the wreck, researchers believe they have determined the cause of it — a German submarine in conjunction with a mine.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Scientists are seeing surprising melting in Earth's polar regions at times they don't expect, like winter, and in places they don't expect, like eastern Antarctica.
When Judie Johnson of Hahei, New Zealand, recently took a dip in the waters off the coast of Coromandel, she never expected to be surrounded by a pod of playful orca whales.
There’s a new fastest animal on Earth and it’s … an ant.
The man who was behind the mission that discovered the Titanic on the North Atlantic Ocean floor in 1985 has revealed what led to the stunning find.
Research has shown that time in space can increase the risk of cancer and trigger gene mutations. But a new study has found that one crucial part of the human body remains unaffected by zero-gravity.

The B Word

Former students would probably attest to the fact that few... Read More

A Call For Fathers

Dads, please let me encourage you to change some things... Read More

Sometimes Our Childrens Questions Answer Our Own

I was changing Ford's diaper the other day when he... Read More

Andy Griffith Show Family Lessons

Although it might seem pretty corny to a lot of... Read More

Tips for Single Parents

Prioritize. Learn to say No. Steal some time for yourself.Don't... Read More

Is Your Child Having Trouble in School?

Did you know that the school system is only able... Read More

The Cost of Competition on Kids

The subject of competition is one that provokes some pretty... Read More

10 Universal Laws for Parents of Teens

1 "Law of Belonging": The greatest need of teenagers (after... Read More

Lets Read! The Benefits of Reading to Your Children

Parents, when you help your children learn to read, you... Read More

Diagnosing ADHD in Your Child, an Introduction

Everyone in a private practice setting who works with children... Read More

Surprise ? Public School Class Size Doesnt Matter Very Much

School authorities often complain that classes are too large. They... Read More

Teaching Kids to Read

We are all so very happy to see that the... Read More

Ten Reasons to Tell your Kids Stories

In today's busy world, many parents have lost the art... Read More

Grandparents --- Homeschool Your Grandchildren and Feel Younger

Grandparents, what better way to stay close to your grown... Read More

Parenting Univeristy: Potty Training 101

When your child shows signs of potty training readiness, it's... Read More

Honey I Can?t Afford The Kids

Sex has a lot to answer for ? babies usually... Read More

Parenting Your Teenager: How to End the Curfew Battle

Q. Things have been relatively calm and OK with our... Read More

Children Cooperate When Appreciated

Do you want your child to cooperate with you more?Children... Read More

Parenting---Roots and Wings

I'm sure many of you have heard that old Hallmark... Read More

My Children

I have been a single mom for almost 20 years.... Read More

From Childrens Stories to Study Skills: Help Your Children Succeed in School

IntroductionAs a parent who wants the best for your children,... Read More

Parents Demand Dumbed-down Tests:An Unintended Bad Consequence of the No Child Left Behind Act

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is making... Read More

Is Your Teen Swamped with Homework and Tests?

I hear from many parents that their child is stressed... Read More

The Mystery of Picky Eaters

If you were to ask 100 parents why they think... Read More

Home For The Holidays: Is it Time for That Talk?

Just a couple of years ago Annie helped her parents... Read More

inductive lighting induction street light manufacturers Pete's produce ..