making holidays/gifts "fair" - FamilyEducation
making holidays/gifts "fair"
12/09/2009 at 00:48 AM

My boyfriend and I have 3 daughters (2 his and one mine, ages 14, 13, and 11) from previous relationships. They all live with us. My daughter's dad is stable and well-off financially, and involved in her life. My boyfriend's girl's mother is not; she was recently homeless, and her involvement with her girls is sporadic.

My daughter recently came home from her dad's for Thanksgiving, loaded down with new clothes. This has (understandably) caused resentment from his kids.

Christmas is coming. My daughter will be getting packages in the mail of gifts from her father and extended family. His daughters in all likelihood will not.

Any suggestions on how to diffuse the potential drama? I know other people must have done this before...This is our first Christmas together...Would like it to be happy!

I do not think that your step-children feeling resentful is "understandable" ... Your boyfriend should speak with his children and explain that those feelings are toxic to them. Teach them that having a father in your life is a good thing and explain that they are blessed to have a father in their life. Tell them that some children are orphans and they have no parents at all. Feelings of resentment will only hurt them - not help them. Teach them to be happy for your daughter and reassure them that you love them very much and will do all you can to make sure they have everything they need. As far as Christmas, maybe you can prepare in advance for these types of issues. I know my friends and family are sensative that I have step-children in my home. If your ex does not get them a trinket or holiday treat, I can almost understand that, but your extended family (your mom, siblings, friends) should send a little something to your boyfriends kids. My niece used to live with a family and I would bring her a gift at Christmas and a small trinket for the other children in the house. It's the Christmas spirit. You can talk to your loved ones about this. Take all the kids to the homeless shelter and deliver a few items, give a gift to a child who otherwise would not have one... these things will show your kids what they HAVE rather than focusing on what they do not have. Make sure that you and your bf are equal when YOU give gifts. Communication and love is the only thing that will ensure a happy holiday. lavish the children in your home with love and you will feel the spirit of good will rather than ill will. Children take on the attitude and spirit of their parents. Smile, laugh, tell stories and watch movies. Make cookies give to charity and BE HAPPY! Merry Christmas to your whole family!!!!

Just agree with them, when they say it isn't fair. It isn't. Read or watch "The Miracle Worker" this holiday. or "The Blind Side." Make sure that you encourage your daughter to be sensitive and gracious to the other girls' feelings. Try to get them each a gift that is not expensive but that is tailor-made for them. Not a "typical" gift, but one that meets an individual interest for each of them. Ask your extended family if they would send a small remembrance for each of the other girls.

There is no way to make gift getting totally fair, especially in a family that includes step-siblings. It can be difficult for children who have had many disappointments in life to be happy for a more fortunate step-sibling. While with my ex, his daughters were in a similar situation to your step-daughters. The first year we were all together, my children got many more gifts from their father and his and my extended family, which caused a great deal of resentment and drama from his girls. We tried doing all the things the other posters suggested to no avail. His daughters were so resentful, it took the pleasure out of getting the many gifts for my children. My children chose to share some of their gifts because they felt so bad for their step-sisters getting less. The next year, we explained the situation, asked my children's father to scale back on gifts that came to our home, and asked all other family members to get at least token gifts for his daughters. We got a few more things for his girls than for my children to even things out, with the result of a happier holiday for all. Hope this helps your family to have a happy and drama free holiday!