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Author Topic: Holidays + 2 set of divorced parents  (Read 12217 times)

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Holidays + 2 set of divorced parents
« on: September 29, 2013, 06:02:21 PM »
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
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Re: Holidays + 2 set of divorced parents
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2013, 06:26:36 PM »
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!


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Re: Holidays + 2 set of divorced parents
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2013, 06:26:44 PM »
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.)
« Last Edit: September 29, 2013, 06:29:33 PM by flickan »


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Re: Holidays + 2 set of divorced parents
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2013, 08:14:41 PM »
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.
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Re: Holidays + 2 set of divorced parents
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2013, 08:17:09 PM »
Invite them all to your place?  Hopefully they can put their differences aside to see the grandkids.


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Re: Holidays + 2 set of divorced parents
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2013, 08:28:54 PM »
I agree that they need to decide what works best for them.  It's easier to deal with family pressure if you're already clearer on what's most important to you and where your priorities lie.

In our family, we have a few people whose jobs require working occasional holidays and have gotten to the point that the holiday get together can happen on the closest weekend that everyone has off. That will sometimes work.

Another idea might be to be sure to attend other family events whenever possible. For example, you can't make it to Christmas but you can travel to attend granny's milestone birthday, or you couldn't make it for Easter, but family has a St Patrick's Day celebration or they all get together for some other event. By showing that they are important and you do want to spend time with them, it could soften the blow on those times when you have to visit other parts of the family.


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Re: Holidays + 2 set of divorced parents
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2013, 08:00:56 AM »
I've only got three sets of parents, but what we do is Thanksgiving (we're Canadian) Dad has his meal on Saturday - has for years, then my Mom and DHs family usually decided separately which day they want. This year mom has chosen Sunday, I'm waiting for what the in-laws want. Mom will be be flexible and do either lunch or dinner depending on my MiL

Christmas is another beast. Mom has decided that Christmas Eve is her day. So we do a full Christmas with her. MiL did want Christmas day, but my BiL has a nuclear family Christmas that day so she now wants Boxing Day. Hopefully Dad will be ok with regular Christmas lol.


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Re: Holidays + 2 set of divorced parents
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2013, 08:57:37 AM »
We had 3 Christmas get-togethers to plan when I was a kid. Christmas Eve was at dad's family, then we came home and did our nuclear family. Christmas morning, mom's mom and family came over, and sometimes dad's family came over too. Laid back breakfast, gift exchange, sat around talking. Then everyone went home and we'd get packed up to go to mom's dad's extended family gathering. It was huge, and generally it was for eating and socializing, once I got to be older than about 11 or 12 I was no longer one of the "children" and didn't get gifts any longer. I still had fun playing with all my cousins that I only got to see once or twice a year.

Thanksgiving we just did dad's family. Neither of mom's parents did anything major for it, so it was never a problem. Now that I don't see dad's family and my great grandparents are gone, we go to my mom's mom's house and have a nice dinner and game night.

The important part is to be flexible and understanding. If the adult children can't make it everywhere every year on the holiday, be open to planning something the weekend before or after, or some other time they can make it. Realize that they've got other family too, and hope that their other family members are as understanding as you are.


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Re: Holidays + 2 set of divorced parents
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2013, 09:22:54 AM »
Don't assume that the parents' can't come to visit you.

We visited my Stepmom/Dad on Xmas Eve, Had xmas morning at home, and then went to the ILs on Xmas afternoon.  My mom lived in another state and would sometimes come visit us at Christmas but often at other times of the year.


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Re: Holidays + 2 set of divorced parents
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2013, 09:36:05 AM »
When we were little, Christmas and New Year were split up. Now New Years is separately, my dad has the Wednesday in between (Thursday or Friday if Wednesday is Christmas) and my mom has the 24th. For now, out of the four of us, only my sister has a family and in laws to account for.
Luckily (or not, depending how you look at it probably), they almost never get together so she doesn't have to think about them when planning.

Anyway, all that to say that if they are thinking about it, they can suggest to everyone a date they want and keep it that way more or less. For us it's more about the sentiment and the effort poured into the meal that makes it a celebration, not the actual date.


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Re: Holidays + 2 set of divorced parents
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2013, 04:57:41 PM »
My parents divorced when I was six and both are remarried.  My Brother is married, so has the addition of his IL's house.

Typically, our family spreads out the holidays over the closest week/weekends.  Prior to Brother's marriage, a typical Thanksgiving might have a lunch on the day followed by a dinner elsewhere; or maybe meals on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.  Christmas might last a week when we add in my Dad's family's get-together and my Stepdad's family.

Knowing that SIL's family has a tradition of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, my family (families?) both my Mom/Stepdad and my Dad/Stepmom try to plan around that - so sometimes my Dad's house celebrates with a breakfast, sometimes they do their own dinner and the rest of us visit the next day.

Both my Brother/SIL and myself try to be mindful of not always going to one house on "leftover day," to make sure all families are included.  Additionally, if (as an example) my mom's get-together is the last one planned, then she tries her best to work around the others.

All in all - it's really about cultivating a sense of respect and appreciation among all parties involved :-)
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Re: Holidays + 2 set of divorced parents
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2013, 02:34:10 PM »
I'm not from a divorced family, neither is my husband. But I am told every year at Christmastime about how, as a child, my husband and his brothers opened presents on Christmas morning and then were stuck in a car to drive two states away to spend the entire school break visiting relatives. You know; cousins that got to play with their new toys and got to sleep in their own beds. DH and his brothers were not allowed to bring any of their new toys with them because they might get lost or broken on the trip. My husband said he never really enjoyed Christmas and always resented his parents for it as did his brothers. DH is 55 and he still talks about it every year, so I just suggest to anyone that has kids-please let them enjoy the holidays and don't drag them around from place to place just to keep others happy. He also notes that none of these relatives that they had to visit ever once came to their house to spend the holidays even though they had a very large home with plenty of room for visitors.

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Re: Holidays + 2 set of divorced parents
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2013, 02:53:44 PM »
I don't even try. I have divorced parents and one set of in-laws. DH and I have a loose schedule where we see his family one year and my family one year and then spend one year alone far, far away. When it's time for my family's year, I figure out where my siblings are mostly going to be and go with them unless they're all off with their in-laws and then I go to an aunt's house where one of my parents will be. My mom usually hosts something for just her kids and step-kids around New Year so we try to go to that and my dad's family has Christmas in early December every other year and on the 25th every other year, so we'll go to one of those when possible.

The moral for us is: We try to go to the events but we don't tie ourselves up in knots about missing one or two or all in any given year. It's all about compromise and flexibility.

I like that dad's family has Christmas in early December every other year. It's an acknowledgement that everyone has other obligations but we all like to spend time together so how can we compromise to make that happen? Mom's event at New Year is the same thing.

I can say that refusal to compromise on anything (e.g., if someone "called" Christmas Eve dinner every year) is the absolute quickest way to to get that event dropped to the bottom of the priority list. (But I also recognize that's how some people plan their events and manage to see everyone so I'm not judging those circumstances. It's just not something that works for us with our families.)


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Re: Holidays + 2 set of divorced parents
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2013, 08:56:27 PM »
Pick me!
Pick me!

I have over 20 years of experience with my husband and myself and our 4 sets of parents who were all remarried and had additional family. All nice people and I like to visit them all. But it is a LOT of visiting (and I like people).

But my answer is: it depends.

For the first 5 years we split up at Christmas (we started dating in high school so this just carried over)
We did 8 years of rotation where Christmas day plus a couple days were spent with one parental set. But we visited everyone else  before or after. Plus visits with friends as we had moved and this was one of the few times to see them.
One year I went out of country with my family.
One year we stayed home; but home at that time was in another country and we were very, very, very busy and barely took a full day off ever, including weekends.
We hosted 2 sets of the family once.
We split Christmas day with breakfast in one place and dinner in another once.

But in general, we plan to eat 3-6 Christmas type dinners over the holiday season. The menu varies and the date varies but by Christmas type dinners, I mean appetisers, a loaded table,  deserts, sparkling wine, lots of relatives and presents.

Basically you are flexible and try to see people as much as you can and as much as you want and can afford. And all the relatives are flexible too.


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Re: Holidays + 2 set of divorced parents
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2013, 03:59:39 PM »
It takes some juggling, that's for sure.  You, as a parent, need to resolve yourself that you probably won't see your kids every single year the same way.  I typically do Christmas Eve with dad, Christmas morning with mom.  When married, we did every other year - his family one year (in town, not divorced) my family the following year (out of town and divorced).  Then there were the other family members (in town) who are not on speaking terms with other relatives...whew!

This included rotation around all the other holidays, so Thanksgiving in town, Cmas out of town, Easter in town, and the next year it went the other way. 

Really it came down to trying to cram all the family into short time frames, and I'm sorry, it's too much and too exhausting, especially with the addition of babies.  My siblings and I grew tired of not being able to see each other as well, so we worked very hard on maintaining a rotation schedule with all the perspective families so at least on a rotational basis, we could be together. 

One thing I got met with is, "I don't want to spend my holiday on the road" when the out-of-towners were invited here.  Well what makes you think I do?   :-\  So, a rotation works for me. 

I knew some people who had a standing weekend the weekend prior or the weekend following or something.  I can't remember how they did it, but they did Christmas *not* on Christmas as standard routine, so the kids could deal with in-laws on the holiday and do Christmas at their house at a different time and get the group together. 

It's a matter of being flexible and hopefully you can establish a rotation that works for your family, which will involve a lot of other people likewise having to bend to a routine, but it's doable.  I worry too when my kids are grown and have to deal with divorced parents and the addition of a spouse, in-laws, and grandbabies.