Begin your holiday survival plan by acknowledging to yourself, and for every member of your new family, that it’s OK to feel sad during “happy holidays” (despite what Uncle Sol used to tell you — “This is no time for a gloomy Gus!”). Allow for some down time, but don’t stay there. These feelings that we’ve discussed and which you are starting to feel are natural. They are shared by nearly every stepfamily around the world — over 20 million in America alone!
Realize where you are in your life. This is a starting point to a whole future. Statistics show over and over that it takes an average of four to seven years for families to blend. This means that you will (statistically) suffer growing pains for at least a few years before you will see those dreams come true.
Too many couples enter into a stepfamily with unrealistic dreams. They expect the kids to fall right into line, loving them like they’re the natural parent. They expect their ex-spouses to suddenly become cooperative, or just disappear. They believe that they will fall right into a happy home life in the first year — or the first months, even!
And when that doesn’t come true, too many of these stepfamilies just fall apart. Instead of accepting that hurts take time to heal, they whine or demand that their new family members "snap to" and make all happy.
If you made that mistake and you’re now panicked because of the chaos you feel around you — relax.
You are in the vast majority. As I said before, stepfamilies experience around a 75% divorce rate. That alone tells you that at least three fourths of them are having problems. What it doesn’t tell you is that most of the others have the same problems you are having, but find ways to survive them.
Accept that blending two families is tough, everyone has the same fears. Then move on.
This is just one holiday season. Get through this one with at least some good times, and the next one will be easier.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
[NOTE: this is an excerpt from our guide book, Beat the Holiday Blues.]
Watch for more guidelines between now and Christmas to help you survive and enjoy holidays with your family!
You are NOT alone! We love you and we can help.
God bless your whole, wonderful family,
STEPcoach Bob Collins