The Blended Life: How to handle Mother’s Day as a Blended Family
“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” Abraham Lincoln
On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation that officially established the first national Mother’s Day holiday to celebrate America’s mothers. Each May, families come together to honor the women who have served, nurtured and shaped their lives.
When divorce is a chapter within a family’s story, the celebration can become more challenging to navigate. Communication is a vital ingredient in defining expectations, shaping rituals, considering schedules, and organizing celebrations.
Children understand and experience the biblical call to honor when a divorced parent supports a child buying or making a card and/or gift. To make this sacrifice communicates to a child that their relationship with their mother is an important relationship and one worth honoring.
In my practice as a therapist, I’ve often found children afraid to ask a father to drive him to purchase a card or gift, for fear that his father’s history with his mother will stir emotions and illicit a negative response. Children thrive in the safety and freedom of having relationship with both parents.
Children experience this safety when they are in the presence of both parents (at holidays, visitation exchanges, at school or extracurricular events) and both are willing to set aside history to support and be present for a child.
Ideas for kids to honor Mom on Mother’s Day:
- Be creative. While moms love flowers, gift cards and manicures, the items that last and are the most memorable are hand written cards and gifts that have meaning.
- Take pictures. It’s hard to believe it now, but you’ll grow into an adult in the not so far away future and your mom will treasure photographs of you at the different stages of your life. Consider fun and funny poses holding signs with messages for your mom.
- Pancakes and Movies. Moms love a day off from meal preparation. Consider bringing her breakfast in bed and then surprise her with a video. Record yourself telling two of your favorite memories involving your mom, along with some of the things you love most about her. She can watch the video any day she chooses beyond Mother’s Day.
Ideas for kids to honor a Stepmom on Mother’s Day:
- Keep in mind that honoring your stepmom isn’t betraying loyalty to your mom. You are simply acknowledging her role as an important adult in your life.
- Consider writing your stepmom a card telling her about the role she has played in your life and her importance to you.
- With your dad’s help, make a scrapbook of photographs, artwork and memorabilia, that chronicle your history together.
Ideas for divorced fathers on Mother’s Day:
- Support (verbally, emotionally and experientially) your kids having a relationship with their mother. Your history with their mother is your history and they need the space to have their own relationship with their mother.
- Don’t wait for them to ask permission to purchase a card or gift. Offer to take them to a store of their choice to buy a gift or supplies to make a gift.
- Encourage them to celebrate their mother on Mother’s day and throughout the year. Kids who have a strong, healthy, connected relationship with their mothers and fathers grow to be strong, healthy, relationally skilled adults.
- Allow your children to have a voice in how they want to acknowledge Mother’s Day with their stepmom. It’s important to let them voice feelings about extending that day to another person, as you guide them in acknowledging this new individual in their lives.