Holidays and the Stepfamily
Sometimes, Christmas in a blended family can appear more like a war zone than the birth of a sacred Savior. The battles between two homes such as gifts, visitation, traditions and travel, often mimic all out warfare.
Does it have to be that way? Are there things a mom or stepmom can do to make it better?
We may feel so angry and frustrated over the fact that our precious holiday plans can be being dictated or disrupted by the other home, that we engage in the battle. The numerous complications surrounding the gift giving and time with family may feel overwhelming and out of my control.
However, there are things I can control in my blended family home. And many of these things can be a greater gift than any present I could buy in a store.
What if the greatest gift I give my family this year is a calm, relaxed, stress-free, unperturbed mom and/or stepmom?
Having a serene holiday may require initiating a truce.
World War I claimed more than 15 million lives. However, on Christmas Eve/Day in 1914 it is reported that British, Belgian and French soldiers put down their rifles and called a truce for the day. They spent the holiday in peace while blending with their German enemies.
Pvt. Albert Moren of the Second Queens Regiment later recalled to the New York Times that the truce began with the singing of Christmas carols. Graham Williams, of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade stated, “First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until we started up ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing -– two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.”
“I remember the silence, the eerie sound of silence,” Alfred Anderson, later recalled to The Observer. “It was a short peace in a terrible war.”
What was required for the soldiers of WWI to experience total peace and tranquility that day? A willingness to lay down the weapons and extend a gesture of good will.
I find it extremely interesting that music, a shared love on both sides, was the instrument that ignited peace that Christmas.
Don’t stepfamilies have a common love, too? Isn’t the love and welfare of the kids our one unifying factor?
Sometimes one parent says they love the child that much, but they continue flinging arrows at the other parent. You can’t control the other parent. Even if the other home doesn’t desire peace, and prefers war, as Christian moms and stepmoms we are called to do everything within our power to keep the season sacred.
This often requires disarming our own ammunition (even if its justified) and replacing it with a holy cease-fire. We do this for the love of the child. Ask yourself: What will make the holiday easier on the child? Not what my spouse or I desire.
Do you love your child/stepchild enough that you will sacrifice your own desires if it makes the holiday easier and less stressful for them?
That might include saying to your stepchild, “Joshua, I know your mom really loves having you at her home for Christmas morning. Your dad and I prefer you be here with us, but we don’t want you to be stressed out on such a special day. We don’t want the divorce to place any more stress on you than it already has. So, we have planned to have you the next night, and we will pretend its Christmas morning the next day. I’ll make the same Christmas breakfast and everything. Look at that, you get two Christmas mornings”
Or a mom might share with her child, “You are such a big boy and that means you get to spend Christmas at your Daddy and Laura’s house. I bet you will have a lot of fun there. Don’t worry about me, I’m going to my friend Lisa’s place and I’ll be having fun too. And then when you come home, we will have our own Christmas. Isn’t that great?”
Is it easy? No.
Does it stab your heart again and again? Yes.
Does it mean you should give in to all the former spouse’s wants? Not repeatedly. Each situation is different.
After a divorce is it necessary to sacrifice your own desires, for the benefit of the child?
Will it bring peace?
Yes, if you ask God to give you the strength.