Hi Stepparents! With November already underway … and the holidays just around the corner, it’s a busy time for all of us.
The holiday season is exciting but also nerve-wrecking because of the long to do lists on your plate. There’s the day-to-day obligations, getting your home ready and holiday shopping – both of which are stressful and time consuming.
On top of that, there are family obligations – which often involve traveling or hosting family from out of town – planning big meals and events, and of course … traditions. Well, it’s no wonder that your stress level is through the roof.
You might be thinking to yourself “I’d rather just hibernate through the holidays. Wake me up next year.”
But, before you call it quits on the things you actually enjoy about the holiday season, I’d like to invite you to explore another approach.
Today I’m taking a deep dive into traditions and beliefs in your blended family and why it’s worth a closer look. Show notes for this episode can be found at synergisiticstepparenting.com/10.
You hold your traditions and beliefs close to your heart. For a lot of us, there are nostalgic memories tied in to traditions where it might not feel like Thanksgiving, for example, without x,y or z.
My family and I go to La Salette Shrine and walk the grounds taking in the lights and decorations at Christmas time. For us, it doesn’t feel like the end of the year without this family outing.
Similarly, you might not be able to remember a time when you didn’t hold the beliefs you have today. I recently did an episode about how your beliefs and mindset can hold you back. Find the show notes for that episode at synergisticstepparenting.com/9.
The truth is, that living in a blended family requires coming together and finding agreement.
Why Integrate Traditions and Beliefs with Your Blended Family?
Unifying your beliefs with your partner’s provides a more solid foundation from which to make parenting decisions. This creates consistency and stability for the kids.
Integrating aspects of traditions you hold dear with your partner’s and your stepkid’s ensures that you are meeting each other’s needs and filling your emotional buckets.
Change, even when it’s for the better, takes a toll. It takes energy to make adjustments and get used to new routines. In a blended family there are already lots of changes happening all around.
So, it’s great if at least SOME of the most cherished aspects can stay the same.
I look at it like moving.
Moving is an invitation to:
- Take inventory of all your stuff
- Intentionally decide what is serving you and what is of value
- Find a new home for the things that aren’t
It’s a useful exercise to go through once in a while.
It’s even more powerful when you have this conversation – maybe even share this episode! – with your partner to discuss the idea. Have them go through this activity with you … and have the kids join in too.
Regardless of whether your partner joins you in this or not, going through the exercise will help you gain clarity on what’s important to you.
Including your partner in the process, helps get their buy-in. If you both approach this task with an open mind, you’ll get to know each other on a deeper level and will get to share more of yourself with each other.
Having heartfelt conversations and going through experiences together are the seeds of meaningful connection building.
This cathartic process is a powerful opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts to really understand each other. Which builds closeness.
It’s a great time to clarify WHY you have certain traditions or hold particular values as a family.
How Can You Create Common Beliefs and Traditions that Work for Your Blended Family?
So … you’re ready to get started! You see the value in giving this exercise a go.
Can you find some common ground that everyone can agree on?
I believe the answer is…
Yes, It’s possible!
Here’s how to begin …
1. Create a List of Your Treasured Beliefs and Traditions
After writing out each one, take some time to consider how you feel about it. Whether it still holds true for you. Whether you agree with it, or which aspects might not sit well or be important anymore.
Get quiet and still. Listen inward for the answer.
2. Let Go of What no Longer Serves You or Matters to You
Get rid of or cross out anything that no longer resonates with you, has value for you or connects with you.
Don’t be afraid to let things go. You might find this challenging. You might get emotional because of your attachment and practiced action around these ideas and concepts. But everything has its season.
Allow yourself to mourn and grieve if you must. There’s a good chance that you’re not actually mourning the specific belief or tradition but the change itself. The change in circumstances or maybe even the change within yourself.
Once you’ve mourned and allowed yourself space to process the emotions and feelings around this, let yourself move on.
3. Share Your Lists with Your Blended Family
Allow them to ask questions and share their thoughts. Try your best to keep an open mind and to take in what they have to say. Try to stay neutral.
Sometimes looking at things from a bird’s eye view is helpful to stay objective. This distance prevents you from slipping into thinking shared thoughts are personal digs.
4. Look for the Similarities
Take some time to come together and identify the common values and important aspects of traditions. Try to find things that all members of the blended family like and want to keep.
It’s not about the number of things, it’s about finding one or two values and creating one or two traditions that everyone can get behind and feel good about.
This exercise might take time.
There might need to be several rounds of conversations. This is perfectly fine. Don’t rush the process.
The important thing is that you are talking about it and sharing your thoughts.
All of this is serving a wonderful purpose to help you get to know each other and gain more clarity on how to work together.
Until next time, be well!
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