Top 10 Gifts To Give Your Stepkids This Christmas
While Christmas is a time of joy and peace, some children who live between two homes can find celebrating the holidays emotionally and physically stressful. Where will I wake up Christmas morning? Will mom or dad be mad if I’m not with them? Why can’t we celebrate our traditions as a family like we used to? are a few of the questions that run through the hearts and minds of some children whose parents are no longer together.
This year, keep in mind the pain and frustration that Christmas can trigger for your stepchild and give them the priceless gift of making their holiday as stress free as possible.
Consider these top ten gifts for your stepchildren:
The gift of positive co-parenting and a peaceful holiday schedule. Work out a schedule between your two homes in a peaceful and positive manner without the involvement of the kids. If you have to acquiesce on having the kids Christmas morning so they don’t have to choose or be shuffled between two homes, do so gracefully. While it will be a painful decision, your children will appreciate and benefit from it.
The gift of patience, grace and mercy. Hurting people hurt others and often the holidays can trigger the worst in a child who is still dealing with the pain of their parents’ divorce or the death of a parent. Extend patience, grace and mercy to your stepchild and extend it to your spouse and yourself as well. Holiday time can be stressful.
The gift of humor. Have a sense of humor. If schedules change or things don’t go as planned, try and find the light side. When all else fails, watch a funny movie with your spouse and laugh.
The gift of self-care. Remember that self-care isn’t selfish, it’s survival. You can’t take care of others if you are not taking care of yourself. Take a few minutes every day to do something that refreshes you. Devotions, reading a book, going for a walk, having a cup of coffee in peace are all ways to re-energize your body and soul.
The gift of respecting traditions. When two families come together they bring two sets of family cultures and traditions to the marriage. Communicate with your spouse how you celebrate Christmas and understand how they and their kids have celebrated. Work to respect everyone’s traditions. Children don’t have to participate in the “other” family’s traditions but they need to respect them.
The gift of creating new family traditions. Traditions create memories and can serve to bond a family together and create your own unique identity. Think of some new traditions that you can do as a stepfamily.
The gift of loving and respecting their parents. Yes! Obviously, you love your spouse and it’s important for the security of the marriage that you continue to nurture your spouse and your relationship. You also need to respect the role of their other parent. You may not like this person. They may say toxic things about you that come from a place of pain and bitterness inside of them but you need to respect their position in your stepchild’s life and not ever bad mouth them to the child. God commands us to “love thy mother and father.” He does not say love your honorable mother and honorable father. Children are wired to love their parents regardless of who they are. You will be seen in a positive light by your stepchildren if you accept and respect their other parent's role. (Note, you don’t need to respect them as a person but you do need to respect that they are your stepchild’s parent.)
The gift of managing expectations. This is a gift you give both your stepchild and yourself. Don’t create unrealistic expectations for the holidays that stepfamily life simply can’t live up to. And don’t do things for your stepkids with an expectation in mind. If you buy all their gifts expecting a thank you and you don’t get one, you will be devastated. Buy them gifts because YOU WANT TO and not because you want to get thanked or hope it will bring you closer.
The gift of unconditional love and acceptance. Love and accept your stepchildren as they are. You didn’t raise them from birth, you can’t control who they are or what they become nor should you try. Love them for being your spouse’s child and accept them without condition.
The gift of faith. The greatest gift you can give them is the gift of faith. Teach them that their self-worth is not of our culture but in God’s love for us. Children are more likely to follow what we do than what we say. Live your life the way you want your children and stepchildren to live. When a problem arises, take time to pray about it. Practice family devotions at the dinner table. And teach them God’s rules for living. That way no matter whose home they are in this holiday season, they can live and behave according to God’s commandments.
Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas. Know and accept the fact that the holidays can be a time of joy and a time of stress for stepfamilies. The reality is that stepfamily life brings both blessings and burdens. The holidays don't "invent" new challenges but they certainly can serve to accentuate them. Hold on to hope and press on without letting any potential toxic situations define you or your mood. You can do it and your stepchildren will be thankful for it.
Family by Christmas tree photo by Shutterstock.
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By Lisa Owen