, Salem, MA


December 6, 2013

Column: 25 tips to increase holiday joy


Don’t split your children, instead keep firm boundaries. For example, don’t badmouth your partner in front of the children no matter how much you’re tempted to or how angry you are at some decision you don’t agree with.

Don’t allow the holiday rush to monopolize romance time. That kiss under the mistletoe should not be lost!

Blended families

Be aware that blended families have the extra emotional and logistical challenges of sharing holiday time and making visitation arrangements.

Focus on what’s important. Keeping the kids happy and away from adult stress is paramount to successful holidays.

Communicate with children and stepchildren. Talk about the holidays and what they would like to happen.

Acknowledge and celebrate differences. Families come together from different backgrounds and traditions. With blended families, it’s key to integrate important cultural and religious aspects from all family members. Take the best part of different families’ traditions and unite them into a combined tradition for the new, blended family.

Be realistic. Not everyone is going to get exactly what they want in either traditional or blended families. When kids living in blended families are disappointed, remember that there is plenty of that in all families. Disappointment is fleeting for adjusted kids. Validate it, and they will move on nicely to appreciation and joy.

Time will help. The first couple of years of doing things differently will take some adjusting. Before you know it, you’ll have set new routines, transitions, expectations and memories for the blended family you have created!

Unblended and single-parent families

The holidays are difficult for children who have lost their blended or intact family. Factors that make children more resilient in the aftermath of a family breakup include the following:

Maintain stepparent-child relationships. Although there are no rules, guidelines or formal commitments, if stepparents can maintain relationships with stepchildren, this helps significantly.

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