Holidays and Celebrations
Holidays and celebrations might be awkward for your stepchild and your extended family. People have family rituals that are often set and it can be difficult to make room for new people to join. Your stepchild might also find that she misses celebrations she had with her family prior to your involvement in her family, and she might resent the fact that she is spending the holidays with your extended family and not her own.
In order to make holidays and celebrations more welcoming for your stepchild, find out if there are any rituals from the holidays she has experienced prior to becoming part of your family that you can incorporate into your family celebration. You could also find out her favorite holiday food and make sure it is available.
Incorporating pieces of her holidays into your family celebrations can benefit both your stepchild and your family. They may find the new ritual fun, and it will give everyone a positive topic about which to speak with your stepchild.
According to the website Smart Stepfamilies, “African-American stepfamilies may adjust to stepfamily living more easily than White or Hispanic families. In general, family boundaries in African-American families are less rigid and more fluid than those of Whites. Throughout US history, black families have included fictive kin, i.e., people with no biological or legal tie to the family who are nevertheless considered family members. Given this cultural history, welcoming and bonding with new stepfamily members may be less intrusive and easier than in White families.”
Similar to laying out how your extended family should act in general around your stepchild and how your stepchild should act around them, laying out what to expect from one another during holidays or other celebrations can be quite helpful. For example, if your stepchild follows a different religion than your extended family, you may have to educate your family on her beliefs and her on your family's beliefs.
This can be an interesting lesson for both, as long as you do so with respect. They might decide they would like to ask each other questions about their beliefs, which might help them bond and get to know each other better. It might help them open up with their own beliefs and become more accepting of others in general.
For celebrations your extended family is planning, make sure you let them know any necessary information about your stepchild. If, for example, she is a vegetarian, informing them of this while also offering to bring a meatless dish for her would be a good idea. This way, your family is aware that she does not eat meat, but is not burdened by needing to change their menu.
As time goes on, they will hopefully get used to her eating habits and prepare a meatless dish as well as a regular dish for celebrations. If your stepchild has any particularities, it is also important to share these with your extended family so they are prepared to be as welcoming as possible.