Navigating Mother’s Day in Blended Families

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May 5, 2016

Mother’s Day is a beautiful opportunity to let that special woman in your life know exactly how you feel about her. If you are a mother, then, of course, you probably have some expectations about what your kids/family should do for you. This can be a recipe for disappointment, unfortunately, especially now that so many families are blended.

The reality is that, if you are divorced and/or your children spend time with a stepmother, you will probably have to share some of the attention on that day. Your initial reaction may be to balk at the idea but it’s better to accept that in our modern society, families come in all shapes and sizes. It can be hard for children to know how to handle this dynamic so it’s even more important that the adults lead by example. Here are some strategies for making the most of the occasion.

Plan a Group Event

It’s not realistic for all families but, if you are on good terms, it might be nice to plan a group event where everyone can be celebrated. Leave any diva or elitist behavior at home and just enjoy a brunch, dinner or other outing with your children and be grateful they have so many people in their lives who love them. If you are prone to jealousy, however, it’s better to skip this idea and try something else.

Show Respect

Whether you are the birth mother or stepmom, show respect for the other woman’s role and her relationship with your children. This will go a long way towards preventing hurt feelings. There is no need to compete as long as you are secure in your role, so make an effort to choose love and acceptance instead of making it a competition.

Remember the Kids

At the end of the day, your children probably didn’t ask to have both a mother and a stepmother in their lives – they’ve just had to find a way to adjust to the decisions their parents made. As such, don’t make it any harder on them by making them choose you over someone else. You won’t win any points with them and may make them resent you for adding unnecessary stress to their lives.

Curb Expectations

If you are hoping your children will make some grand gesture to prove that they love you more than anyone else, you are not only being unrealistic – you’re being unreasonable. Similarly, don’t be shocked when your kids want to do something nice for their mother or stepmother as well as for you. Instead, encourage and promote those inclusive behaviors since they stem from a place of kindness and consideration.

Don’t Overthink It

Yes, Mother’s Day is a special occasion but it doesn’t have to be a huge deal. If things don’t work out exactly as you had hoped, don’t assume that it is an indication of how your family feels about you. Resist the urge to indulge in self-pity and remind yourself that everyone is trying their best, even if it doesn’t live up to the fantasies you’ve created in your mind.

Blended families come with their own unique challenges but, if everyone is mature and works together, the blessings can be two-fold. Keep that in mind this Mother’s Day!

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