New Families and Traditions
Are you in a new relationship or newly married? Transitions in family life create a unique challenge for new families – which family do we spend our traditional holidays with? This time of year is full of tradition. Nothing brings traditions into question more than a family transition. New families will be facing decisions about how to merge traditions from each of their families. How do couples go about negotiating these traditions? Here are some things to consider.:
Couples should be clear with each other about their expectations and what they feel is really important to them for the holidays. They should also be able to communicate with their family members that as much as they want to spend time with one family, they also want to spend time with the other.
Negotiation and Compromise
Family traditions rarely work themselves out so there is no conflict for the newly formed family. You will not be able to be in two places at the same time. If distances prohibit seeing both families within a two day time period, there is no physical way you can make it happen without spending much of your holiday travelling. Consider an every other year approach.
At some point in time, you may come to a decision that it is important for you as a couple to have your own traditions and wish to spend that time at home with your own family. Open communication with your extended families is important if you are changing your involvement in long established traditions.
If you are the parent or other family member of these couples, recognize their dilemma. You can make it easier for them by being flexible and understanding.
Holiday traditions have expanded and rather than one day, the holidays seem to have become a “mini season.” If one takes this approach, there are plenty of opportunities to create new times to spend with family.
You may also be interested in Suggestions for Stepfamilies.
Lansky, Vicki (1996). Vicki Lanskey’s divorce book for parents: Helping your children cope with divorce and its aftermath. Book Peddlers.
Neuman, M. Gary (1998). Helping your kids cope with divorce. Times Books: Random House.