Christmas time is a happy and joyous time and an opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends, though for others it can be a time of loneliness, conflict, and stress, etc.
For many people though, Christmas can be a difficult and stressful time as it will involve the first time the kids will be spending time with the other parent/family. Approximately one in five (22 per cent) of families in Australia are 'blended' - that is, they involve step-parents or step-siblings, half brothers and sisters and maybe adopted siblings too.
So how can you make sure that time spent with stepfamilies and half-siblings goes as smoothly as possible? The advice is to remain flexible in your approach to the holidays. Everyone has their traditional ways of celebrating Christmas so be understanding that you ex and their family might have expectations that differ from your own.
Being flexible is the best way forward and to allow a bit of democracy in the family to see if other people value [old traditions] in the same way. For those who are on good terms ex-partners, Christmas can be a good time to come together to spend time in each other’s company over the holidays together with their children.
There is no hard and fast rule about this, if you can work together then the this can be a very positive time for everyone. For children particularly young ones to have both parents in the room is very important, if possible. I think it's worth aiming for.
Of course, in situations where there's been domestic violence or substance abuse, it might not be safe or practical to spend time together. But in instances where it is possible, it's encouraged.
If holiday season stress is getting too much for you and you need support, call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, or Lifeline on 13 11 14, to talk things through. If you or someone you know is at risk of hurting themselves or someone else, call triple zero (000).