www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Business Briefcase (Aug. 24, 2014) -8/22/2014, 2:30 PM

The journey often is part of the gift -8/22/2014, 8:44 AM

A look back at the early years -8/19/2014, 9:01 AM

Parenting adolescents through stages of life crucial -8/18/2014, 10:16 AM

Weed control on rangelands -- Part III -8/17/2014, 1:30 PM

Business Briefcase (Aug. 17, 2014) -8/17/2014, 1:30 PM

Church should help mentally ill -8/15/2014, 8:49 AM

Final 4-H recipe from Ellis County Fair is a winner -8/14/2014, 9:09 AM

Great Bend resident appointed Rotary District Governor -8/14/2014, 9:08 AM

Remembering the start of school back in the good ol' days -8/13/2014, 9:19 AM

'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' is uninspiring -8/12/2014, 9:02 AM

Adolescents' actions vary depending on parenting style -8/11/2014, 8:55 AM

Clubs and meetings -8/10/2014, 3:19 PM

Weed control on rangeland -- Part II -8/10/2014, 3:19 PM

Business Briefcase (Aug. 10, 2014) -8/10/2014, 3:19 PM

HaysMed doctor named to school wall of honor -8/10/2014, 3:18 PM

Bringing children to Christ -8/8/2014, 7:54 AM

Learning to get along together -8/8/2014, 7:54 AM

KDOT announces approved July bids -8/8/2014, 6:12 PM

Logan craft fair is Aug. 16 -8/7/2014, 8:23 AM

August full of milestones, library activities -8/7/2014, 8:14 AM

Beware of potentially harmful canning mistakes -8/7/2014, 8:14 AM

Senior Companions celebrate 40th anniversary -8/6/2014, 8:59 AM

Public record, Aug. 4, 2014 -8/4/2014, 7:56 AM

Birthday -8/2/2014, 8:05 AM

Heaven holds many mysteries -8/1/2014, 9:07 AM

Hays After 5 women's group will meet Aug. 11 -8/1/2014, 9:07 AM

Public record (July 29, 2014) -7/29/2014, 8:15 AM

Gerstner: I don't love 'Lucy,' but have seen worse -7/29/2014, 8:15 AM

Disaster training exercise scheduled for Kansas cities -7/28/2014, 12:32 PM

Kansas children asked to draw posters for contest -7/28/2014, 12:32 PM

Many options available to help victims of abuse -7/28/2014, 9:03 AM

Victims of violence need help from supporters -7/21/2014, 8:10 AM

Vision Dance Company brings home honors -7/20/2014, 6:43 PM

Get control of weeds in wheat stubble -7/20/2014, 11:19 AM

Business Briefcase (July 20, 2014) -7/20/2014, 11:19 AM

Horse owners encouraged to watch horses for VS -7/18/2014, 2:34 PM

Kansas Lottery sales set new record in FY2014 -7/18/2014, 3:58 PM

Celebration VBS begins Monday -7/18/2014, 9:56 AM

ELL strategies workshop to equip area teachers for diverse classrooms -7/17/2014, 8:47 AM

Admissions at FHSU partners with advanced English class -7/17/2014, 7:43 AM

Political science degree program at FHSU ranks No. 11 -7/17/2014, 7:43 AM

Music offers many benefits, so sing out -7/16/2014, 2:26 PM

Words of 'wit and wisdom' from days gone by -7/16/2014, 2:26 PM

Public record (July 14, 2014) -7/15/2014, 10:27 AM

'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' shines -7/15/2014, 8:32 AM

Different strategies can help victims deal with violence -7/14/2014, 9:56 AM

Public record (July 9, 2014) -7/8/2014, 10:28 AM

'Tammy' is every kind of bad -7/8/2014, 7:57 AM

Smaller number of men victims of domestic violence -7/7/2014, 8:44 AM

Hays After 5 to celebrate 38 years -7/4/2014, 9:37 AM

Hope for today: Remember to mind your manners -7/4/2014, 9:28 AM

Celebrating rain, national ice cream month -7/3/2014, 9:28 AM

Honey, don't forget the (healthy) vacation snacks -7/3/2014, 9:28 AM

'Transformers: Age of Extinction' arrives with a soulless, explosion-packed dud for the viewer's eye -7/1/2014, 1:25 PM

Fourth of July fireworks safety tips -6/29/2014, 2:19 PM

FHSU alumnus and chapter of year recognized for service -6/29/2014, 2:19 PM

Animal health considerations for cows fed in confinement -6/29/2014, 4:03 PM

Business Briefcase (June 29, 2014) -6/29/2014, 4:03 PM

Summer interns participate in community service day -6/29/2014, 4:03 PM

Creep feeding or early weaning when forage is limited -6/22/2014, 1:58 PM

Galaxy, Kansas Aviation win top biz honors -6/22/2014, 1:58 PM

Business Briefcase (June 22, 2014) -6/22/2014, 1:58 PM

Where are you in your financial plan? -6/17/2014, 10:55 AM

Wheatland center receives award -6/15/2014, 2:28 PM

Business Briefcase (June 15, 2014) -6/15/2014, 2:28 PM

Dave says: Take the Roth -6/10/2014, 10:45 AM

Pregnancy testing cow herd pays off in the long run -6/8/2014, 2:21 PM

Summer events scheduled at the Hays Recreation Center -6/1/2014, 11:14 AM

Overbey heading home to eastern Kansas -5/25/2014, 10:43 AM

Don't ignore those honey-locust trees in pastures -5/25/2014, 10:43 AM

Elementary school movie reviews -5/20/2014, 8:47 AM

When to castrate calves could affect weight later on -5/18/2014, 1:43 PM

Business Briefcase (May 11, 2014) -5/18/2014, 1:43 PM

News from North Central Kansas Technical College -5/11/2014, 4:04 PM

Evaluate risk for delayed rebreeding as a stockman -5/11/2014, 4:04 PM

Heaven is for real -5/9/2014, 9:59 AM

Students help with shelter's landscape -5/8/2014, 3:58 PM

Birthday -5/8/2014, 3:58 PM

Planning funerals in advance makes decisions easier -5/8/2014, 3:58 PM

Barton College offers summer outreach programs -5/4/2014, 2:23 PM

Controlling parasites essential for healthy calves -5/4/2014, 2:22 PM

La Crosse woman completes beef training -5/4/2014, 2:41 PM

Business Briefcase (May 4, 2014) -5/4/2014, 2:40 PM

Monahan takes Franciscan vows -5/2/2014, 8:39 AM

D of I recognizes long-time members -5/2/2014, 8:39 AM

Agencies collaborate to explore Medicare basics -5/1/2014, 9:26 AM

Birthdays -5/1/2014, 9:26 AM

One good rain won't save drought-stricken farmers -4/27/2014, 3:04 PM

Business Briefcase (April 27, 2014) -4/27/2014, 3:04 PM

'Transcendence' fails to connect elements -4/22/2014, 4:39 PM

Spring gallery walk schedule -4/21/2014, 4:37 PM

Parents can teach children skills for coping with stress -4/21/2014, 4:38 PM

Law enforcement works to further decrease fatalities -4/20/2014, 5:48 PM

Public record, April 18, 2014 -4/18/2014, 4:39 PM

Roadwork to begin in Phillips/Smith counties -4/18/2014, 4:45 PM

Public record, April 17, 2014 -4/17/2014, 4:39 PM

Public record, April 16, 2014 -4/16/2014, 4:39 PM

Enjoying high school memories -4/16/2014, 10:27 AM

Public record, April 15, 2014 -4/15/2014, 4:39 PM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Stepfamilies should be prepared for holiday stress

Published on -2/4/2013, 9:25 AM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

This is the ninth in a series of articles about holiday stress.

Q. What are additional tips for managing holiday stress in divorced families and stepfamilies?

A: The Step and Blended Family Institute from Ontario, Canada, emphasizes coping skills especially suitable for stepfamilies and blended families. The involved adults must plan well and communicate everything. Too much is preferable to not enough. The institute emphasizes being prepared for the unexpected, such as last-minute changes from others involved or really disruptive behavior from stepchildren.

Other suggestions include being prepared for difficult transitions when the children go from place to place. Parents need to stay positive and not overreact to the children's behavior. Parents also should resist the temptation to overanalyze and concentrate on being supportive and accepting. Many times younger children don't understand their own behaviors, and they certainly cannot explain themselves to adults.

In Life 123 online, Philip Lop emphasizes keeping in mind the holidays are emotionally draining, but they will pass. The very task of planning well, recommended by all experts, might not go well. Compromise is the key to divorced families and stepfamily planning and can be chaotic when dealing with rigid and inflexible ex-spouses, new spouses and multiple extended family groups.

On the Family Education website, stepfamilies are cautioned about conflicts between biological children and stepchildren. There is no hard and fast rule about who to include in holiday activities because all families are different. Parents and stepparents alike need to have lots of discussions with the children to be sure they respect the children's feelings and preferences. Another stressor in the article mentions adult children and stepchildren who marry and start families compound the confusion for holidays. The more groups in the family, the greater the need for communication and planning.

Children of divorced parents entertain fantasies of their parents reuniting, even many years past the divorce and even when biological parents have remarried. Children can be nostalgic during holidays and consequently emotional. Guilt and loyalty issues are common, even when the adults respect the children's feelings.

On the website of BeyondWork Inc., author Lora White addresses parent and teen conflicts during the holidays. Teens can develop negative and condescending attitudes about family traditions they used to enjoy. They don't want to spend time with relatives, they are bored, and they resent navigating back and forth between divorced households and stepfamilies. Teens miss spending time with friends.

Options to compromise with teens include measures such as having teens attend some family activities but not all of them. Parents also can include friends of teens and then allow teens to attend family activities of their friends, in return. Parents need to remember adolescents rebel as part of the developmental process and holiday resistance simply could be part of that process.

Author Peter K. Gerlach, MSW, offers suggestions about how to improve family holidays for divorced families and stepfamilies. First, the adults need to admit and try to resolve emotional baggage from previous relationships in order to avoid entering new relationships with old, unresolved issues. Divorced families and stepfamilies are difficult enough without unfinished business from past significant others.

A second strategy is to take the long view of rebuilding new families and not focus solely on trying to create perfect holidays. Families need to aim for improvement and progress in sharing holidays. Readjustments take years.

Another area to work out is expectations. The myths about "happily ever after" for stepfamilies is damaging. This false assumption leads to much disillusionment and premature feelings of failure in stepfamilies. The adults need to recognize and understand not everyone will like everyone else, and not everyone needs to be included in everything in order to have successful holidays. Criteria for stepfamily celebrations should include patience and recognition of the impacts of change. A variant from one stepfamily to another is the quality of parenting skills of the adults. If stepparents have no biological children, they will need a lot of education and support from biological parents.

Adults also need to educate their children about realistic expectations and to encourage them to express their inner fears and anxieties. Children need opportunities to grieve the losses of their biological families, and new stepfamilies should not feel threatened by their needs to grieve. Grieving does not mean stepfamilies are failing. As a matter of fact, there will be better bonds in stepfamilies if children are allowed to grieve. Holidays can be painful for everyone.

All stepfamily members should be encouraged to express their needs and preferences for the holidays. These verbalizations should include what they like and what hurts their feelings, what they want and what they don't want. Concerns of the children can be significant, such as issues of neglect or rejection, or insignificant, such as games they hate to play.

The role of guilt is another variable in stepfamilies. Many times children feel guilty if they really like stepparents. One of the primary stressors in stepfamilies is loyalty conflicts, which then generate unnecessary guilt. Children have difficulty accepting and loving new stepparents and not feeling disloyal to their biological parents. Holidays intensify loyalty conflicts.

Another high stress conflict for children is divisive values, conflicts between the ways of former families versus the ways of new stepfamilies. Finally, stepparents and biological parents should strive to avoid relationship triangles in which one person talks about a second person to a third person. These indirect communications are by and large negative and destructive and can derail successful holiday celebrations.

* Next week's article will discuss how to manage stress after the holidays.

Judy Caprez is an associate professor of social work at Fort Hays State University. Send your questions in care of the department of sociology and social work, Rarick Hall, FHSU.

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos

AP Breaking News
AP Nation-World News

View this site in another language.