General Etiquette > Holidays

Holidays + 2 set of divorced parents

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I'm wondering how people handled this.

It may become realvent for "my kids" in the future.

Last thing I'd want to do is cause stress, but when both sets of in-laws are divorced & remarried/have a long term SO, how do the adult children handle seeing everyone (or do they even try)

Right now DSD & her BF have 3 sets of "parents" in one state & 1 set in state far away - I am staying out of it, but would like suggestions if he wants to brainstorm/talk about it

DH's parents divorced years ago. His father remained a good Dad and Granddad to all. It did mean more get-togethers during the holidays.

For Christmas, FIL and stepmother had a get-together - but never on Christmas day. It was usually the weekend before Christmas. That made it easy for just about everyone to attend. MIL had Christmas day dinner, which most attended (but not all, because spouses have family, too!).

I would tell the divorcing couple: be flexible! Don't make it hard on your kids and grandkids; don't make them "choose sides". Choose dates that don't compete with other events, if possible. 

Let your kids and grandkids make their own decisions about where they want to be on a holiday; support their decisions, and when they do show up - be glad to see them!

When you have four households to split between I think it would be ideal to focus on a couple at a time each holiday season.

On my spouse's side there is a smaller Christmas breakfast with his parents, a Christmas Eve party with the cousins, and a large Christmas celebration with the grandparents.  On my side there is Christmas early morning with my folks and a big Christmas dinner and gifts with the extended family.  We cannot do all of this so we try to allocate our time where it's feasible.  For example, the first year we were engaged we went to my parents' home early in the morning to visit, had breakfast with his parents a couple of towns away, and then drove up north with them to visit his grandparents.

If you have 3 families nearby you can spend one year visiting among the three and one year with the family that lives further away if they can make the trip.

Christmas doesn't have to be an all day thing, either.  Weather permitting if the 3 families live in a reasonable driving distance I think short Christmas visits centered around meals are very nice.  Breakfast with one family, dinner with another.  The key is flexibility on the part of all parties.  I like having Christmas breakfast with my inlaws because it's a small no-frills affair.  Then even if we don't go to the big family gathering on his side, we've spent quality time with his parents and siblings and quality of time is better than quantity of time.

(we do end up spending more of the winter holidays with his side because of Chanukah.  Having an extra holiday on one side and not the other makes things a lot easier in terms of devoting time to each family.)

A lot depends on how close the houses of all the people involved are. I do not think it is kind to expect people to drive three hours one way to see one set of parents, then two hours another way to see another set of people, and possibly drive another hour to see yet another set, and then have a couple of hours drive home.

If someone wants to do that, fine. But any family member that expected that of me would not be seeing me that holiday. I don't enjoy driving, the weather over the holidays can be snowy. Spending most of the day in the car would be miserable for me, not a happy, joyous holiday. I'd make plans to see everyone--just not on Christmas day itself.

One would hope that the sets of parents would be flexible and just happy to see the kids at any point during the holiday season. Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. Dropping by for dessert on Thanksgiving instead of making the kids eat two Thanksgiving meals.

But I think the adult children involved need to stand up for themselves, as well. In the OP's example,  DSD & her BF should discuss what is best for *them*. They need to be willing to accept that some of the parents involved won't necessarily be happy with their decisions.

But if they come up with a schedule of alternating Thanksgiving with a different set of parents every year, meaning a four year rotation, that's their choice. If they choose to spend Christmas Eve with one set, Christmas morning with a second set, and Christmas afternoon with a third set of parents, with every third year being spent out of state with the far-off set, that's their choice.

But if they decide to visit each set of the four once every four years for Christmas, that is also a perfectly acceptable way to deal with the problem.

Invite them all to your place?  Hopefully they can put their differences aside to see the grandkids.


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