Why The ‘One Big Happy Family’ is flawed!
Did you know that striving for the ‘first family’ ideal can be damaging for stepfamilies? Stepfamilies are very unique and intricate. It’s important they are viewed from this angle because disappointment, heart ache and a sense of failure can override your experience.
Gorgeous stepmums, taking the focus off the ‘One Big Happy Family’ will help you to see things for what they are, elevate stress and allow you to be your abundant and fulfilled self. Your attention needs to be given to all the different relationships in your stepfamily rather than aiming to achieve a united family unit. This might be possible however often it is not the reality and you can only work with what you have got. Your friends and extended family members might not understand why things aren’t all sunshine and roses especially at this time of year when it is considered to be all about family.
The holiday season is promoted in the media and has many traditions based on the concept of family unity and a collective celebration with gifts, food and more. Parallel to these cultural expectations is often the real experience of stress and worry for many. Stepmums you are not excluded from this harsh reality as I am sure many of you already know. Often the challenges you have been faced with throughout the year crescendo or new ones might emerge. This can be a very trying time for all. Those close to you might not understand the disharmony and stress you are experiencing. Planning for Christmas with your stepkids and partner can be upsetting and painful.
Here are a few examples of what might be causing you anguish:
- Negotiating how you and your stepfamily would like to spend the holidays can be a linguistical nightmare. There are many people to consider, involve in that process and you all might have different needs and ideas.
- The children might have a preference to be with either you and your partner or their biological mother. The children’s sense of loss and loyalty to their biological parents can be extremely heightened resulting in them feeling overwhelmed and tense. Therefore, preferred behaviours can decrease at this time and are replaced with hostility and discontent.
- There can be financial strain with the environmental (media) pressure to consume and lavish your loved ones. You and your partner might not feel adequate in providing what you can and want to give more (but can’t) over the holiday season.
- Last but not least, dealing with expectations from your family and friends to have everyone together and getting along.
The ‘One Big Happy Family’ is totally flawed. Stepfamilies are colourful, dynamic and complex in so many ways. In stepfamilies there are sub-groups made up of many different relationships, history, court orders, grief, child support payments and a myriad of needs and wishes to consider. Sound easy to navigate? Not really. However, while there are a lot of reasons why you might like to cancel any celebrations over this season I want to encourage you to try the 4 tips below before you throw in the towel:
1. Work out with you partner a Plan A, Plan B and a Plan C that together you are happy with for the holiday season. If you have orders in place you might not be able to plan with flexibility though do your best to come up with 3 ways you are happy to spend the holiday season. Once you are clear then begin those conversations with your stepchildren and other significant family members.
2. Offer your support, stability and compassion to your stepchildren as they might find the holiday season tumultuous. Keep a sense of routine in place and verbally let them know that you value their decisions and preferences over the holiday season.
3. Make time for you to unwind and regroup. This is very, very important as you don’t want to come out the other end of the holidays burnt out. Schedule time in for you and stay committed to being nurturing and kind to yourself. While you are honouring your needs know that it is ok to physically remove yourself from a stressful situation leading up to the holidays. Give yourself permission to look after you!
4. Give this blog post to your friends and family members so they can gain a deeper appreciation for the complexities which come with being a stepmumma during the holiday season.
I would love to hear how you are going leading up to the holidays. Please share a comment below and perhaps an activity you are doing to look after yourself during the ‘silly’ season.
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