How to Cope with Holiday Drama in Your Stepfamily

A portion of a new chapter from our e-book this year:

“Drama and stepfamily holidays seem to go together. With so many variables in play it’s likely than an event, unexpected circumstance, or family member will spark a conflict. Emotions become heightened and angry words are hurled. Before the shopping even begins, the holiday season carries an unpleasant damper.

cruise decorBut the season doesn’t have to be perfect to be meaningful. Unexpected drama can be extinguished if we don’t ignite the flame. A bumpy day can end with a beautiful sunset. But it requires intentional effort toward positive solutions when drama arises.

Holiday drama comes in many forms. Below are a few suggestions on how to conquer common stepfamily themes with a positive perspective.

Negotiating the Schedule:

‘My husband allows his ex to control the holiday schedule and I don’t even want to discuss it this year,” a new stepmother moaned. “I have very little say in how we celebrate because it has to go her way.’

Not discussing the schedule doesn’t solve the problem. Pro-actively negotiating with the ex-spouse does. But it takes calculated effort.

I’ve watched stepparents procrastinate the holiday discussion because they know it creates tension. When the unresolved schedule hangs over everyone’s head, the tension is already there. The best approach starts with supporting one another by: discussing your desire regarding the schedule in your home first, attempting a positive discussion with your ex-spouse, and negotiating the schedule until it is agreeable.

I have more success negotiating the schedule with my ex-spouse when I go into the conversation expecting to find success for both our homes. If I assume he will be disobliging the meeting is immediately tension-filled, resulting in disagreement. Small successes can lead to big victories over time. If I establish a positive pattern, it creates an environment that allows better negotiating year after year.

If your ex is especially difficult, you can preface the conversation with, ‘I want to interact peacefully with you as we discuss the schedule and will do my part to work out the details with you as fairly as possible.” You can’t control his/her interaction, but you can begin the conversation amicably be offering a sincere and humble heart. If the conversation turns confrontational, take a break and reconvene another time. … ”

Go here to buy the e-book and read on: 

Other topics of drama included in this chapter are: coping with entitled stepchildren and strained co-parenting.

I hope you’ll check it out and let us know what you think.

How do you cope with holiday drama? Please share.

Related Posts:

Holiday Mantra for Stepparents: Don’t Take it Personally

Coping with Difficult Emotions Through the Holidays

Holiday Tip: Live by Faith, Not Fear





3 Responses to “How to Cope with Holiday Drama in Your Stepfamily”

  1. 1 Sharon December 12, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    We celebrate Hanukkah as a family and last night my step son handed me his presents back and told me he didn’t like them, my step daughter pretended she couldn’t find her coat so we had to miss the town’s menorah lighting (she conveniently had it for school today), my daughter cried that we had to miss it, and my husband forgot to ask off the night from his pool league. I felt like Clark Griswold and wanted to just cancel the rest of the holiday! There are a thousand and one reasons holidays are hard. My husband is supportive (although sometimes forgetful), scheduling isn’t a problem because the BO celebrates Christmas, but there had to be something. I’m a step mom. They just had to get creative this year. Just needed to vent. 🙂

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