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by Susan Ginsberg, Ed. D.


Making the holidays enjoyable for families with single parents or stepfamilies can be especially challenging. Here are some suggestions:


š       Involve kids in some of the planning. This is important because typically children from a divorced or newly reconstituted family feel a loss of control. Adults seem to be making all of the decisions. Just be aware that younger children particularly will choose options that seem the most convenient and least upsetting to everyone else.

š       When your plans are firm, let kids know what to expect, who will pick them up and take them to their dadĦs house. They also need to know how long they will stay, where they will sleep, who else will be there, and how and when they can call or send email to the other parent.

š       Try to facilitate contact with the other parentĦs relatives. Arrange visits with grandparents, aunts, and uncles, if they want to see the child and the child wants to see them.

š       Find ways to make kids comfortable with new stepbrothers and sisters. Make special time for them in pairs so they can get to know each other in an un-pressured surrounding. Board games and cards can be a good way to break the ice when all the kids are together.

š       DonĦt expect kids to make an instant adjustment to a new family and new siblings. They may not act happy all of the time. DonĦt force it. If a remarriage is recent and the families hardly know each other, itĦs okay for kids to sometimes feel sad.

š       Honor rituals from previous families by letting everyone choose (and perhaps cook) a special dish. Read children their own holiday story or teach everyone a holiday song. Then add some new traditions. Take pictures to create memories of your time together and let each child make his or her own photo album.

(adapted from Work & Family Life newsletter, edited by Susan Ginsberg

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