Stepfamily Holiday Survival Tip #8:
If kids come to visit you for the holidays, don’t neglect them. Whether they are your own children, for whom your spouse has custody, or your stepkids, make them part of everything that goes on.
Please, amid the stresses and emotions, try to remember that these children are not ropes for a tug of war game. They are not enemy spies from the ex. They are children hoping to have some enjoyment during a special time of the year, in a place that is not their regular home. You have the power to make a positive or a negative impact on them.
As you practice your new traditions, don’t forget to include them. They are family, too, even your stepkids. Ask them for their stories (then listen to them), expect them to help or take part, and talk to them, too.
Children who visit their other parent’s home seem to fall into two categories. They are either an extended part of the family, or complete outsiders. Whether your kids get to visit regularly and often (say, every other weekend) or just twice or three times a year, they still deserve to get some permanent consideration. You owe it to them to make sure they are comfortable and settled.
You’d be surprised at how many stepparents tell us that they only provide a drawer for their stepkids’ clothes and belongings when they visit. “After all,” they rationalize, “the kids are only here for a few days, why would they want anything more. We do pay child support, you know!”
That’s shameful! They’re not pets dropped off on you for a kennel stay. (Can you say, “Grinch”?) They are children who are basically at the mercy of your courtesies. If you live in a small house and have little extra money, be creative. Save up and buy (or even borrow) some furniture — a bed, a chest of drawers — it doesn’t have to be a lot. The point is to make an effort just for them out of love.
How would you want your own children to be treated at a stepparent’s home? Would you want them ignored, overlooked, given lesser gifts than their stepsiblings, spoken to the same way you speak to your own stepkids?
[NOTE: this is an excerpt from our guide book, Beat the Holiday Blues.]
You are NOT alone! We love you and we can help.
God bless your whole, wonderful family,
STEPcoach Bob Collins