Utah Boomers Magazine
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Making Blended Families Work

Over the river and through the woods seems mild compared to getting to Grandma’s house these days. All you want is get your 2.5 children and their families together to enjoy a nice quiet holiday meal together, without the frenzied rush to get everyone to the next place.

Since Utah is slightly above average nationally in divorces, your family probably resembles the Brady Bunch, with yours, mine and ours offspring.

The illustration below is a reasonable, if slightly exaggerated, family scenario. For space purposes, we have only used one of your 2.5 children as an example.

Screen shot 2014-11-08 at 9.10.50 PM

Let’s do the math
Story problem: Your son was married and had two children. He was then divorced and married a woman with two children. They had one of their own. You want them all at your house at 3:00 pm for Thanksgiving, Christmas, (you fill in the blank), dinner.

As you can see by the illustration, there are 24 people involved in this decision, and that is for just one of your off- spring. If you multiply that by 2.5, you now have 60 people involved. Assuming (and don’t laugh when I say it) everyone gets along, the problem becomes easier to solve. But if there is any derision in the family the problem is compounded.

Solution

  1.  First and foremost, consider the children. Always include half-siblings in your plans. After all, they are part of your children/grandchildren’s family. Holidays should be a fun an memorable time for them. Don’t al- low their memories to be those of family squabbles.
  2. Be considerate. Schedule your time around other family traditions. You can’t expect your ex-daughter-in-law to be happy about your dinner being the same time as a long-standing family tradition of dinner at her mother’s house.
  3. Ask well in advance to have your date put on everyone’s holiday schedule.
  4. If one or more of your children lives out of town, make travel arrangements well in advance, and plan accord- ingly.

Eliminate the Competition
Who says that Thanksgiving, or any other holiday needs to be celebrated on the day it’s posted on the calendar? Come on—we’re boomers—the generation of rule-breakers and trend setters. Go ahead and make your own holiday.

My friend, Morrena, has her Thanksgiving on Wednesday evening rather than Thursday. All the kids are available and she never has to worry about “who’s turn it is”. Everyone shows up, they have a nice quiet, unhurried dinner.

According to Morrena, the best part is that she is able to get up on Thanksgiving and spend her day reading the paper and planning her black Friday while eating leftovers.

Manage Your Expectations
If you have images in your mind of the perfect get together, you might be setting yourself up for failure. Don’t expect everything to go well all the time. When so many people are involved, there will be personality clashes.

Take the high road
Expect to hear things like, “My mom doesn’t make me eat sweet potatoes”. Or, my other grandma doesn’t do it like that”. Some of these comments might make you bristle, but let them slide. This is difficult for them too.

Incorporate Other’s Traditions
All families are different. In some, it’s not only okay to have the football game playing during dinner, it’s tradition. Find a happy medium that will incorporate other’s traditions without jeopardizing your own. If you respect theirs, they will respect yours.

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