The holiday season is upon us bringing excitement and, also anxiety and frustration. The stepfamily is not immune to this and often finds itself in an overwhelming sea of scheduling, planning, and endless coordination.
There is another component of the holidays which is particularly true in stepfamilies, and that is of the handling of ‘traditions’. Families have traditions, or specific ways of doing things, during the holiday season. A common stepfamily scenario involves a parent and child bringing former first-family traditions into the new stepfamily, and the stepparent also bringing in his or her own traditions. If these traditions differ, conflict may occur.
What is the answer? Should one person abandon his or her traditions for the good of the stepfamily or in order to keep the peace? This would most likely result in resentment that would eventually chip away at the strength and vitality of the stepfamily unit. Instead, stepfamilies facing such a dilemma should use the following guidelines as a framework from which to find a solution:
1- Honor: Honoring the importance of others’ traditions is important. Traditions help make the individual and represent patterns of interacting with those who hold significance in one’s life. In short, they are important and should be treated as such.
2- Prioritize: Each family member prioritizes his or her traditions, ranking them in order of importance. Questions like which tradition is most important to me; which tradition holds the most meaning; and, what tradition has the least emotional significance, will help in the creation of this list.
3 – Compromise: Using the prioritized lists as a guide, each family member will need to compromise some on his or her part.
The result of this 1-2-3-step approach is that each family member is given a voice to communicate which traditions are most important to him or her. It also provides a system to help each person in prioritizing his or her traditions from least to most important. This process ensures that significant traditions are preserved and, through some creativity, new stepfamily traditions created.
Tampa’s Old Hyde Park Village’s annual tree lighting is a great opportunity to start a new holiday tradition with your stepfamily. This free holiday event takes place on Friday, November 26th from 6pm -8pm at the fountain in the heart of Hyde Park Village. Creating traditions in your stepfamily should be fun and this event is aimed to please with live entertainment, hot cocoa, and a visit from Old St. Nick himself.