Surviving a ‘blended’ stepfamily Christmas


With more than 1 in 5 Australian families living in a step or blended family, a sense of loss commonly surfaces around the holidays and celebrations.  There may be competition over gift giving, confusion over arrangements, unrealistic expectations and divided loyalties.  Christmas can not only be difficult, it can be the cause of conflict.

Peak organisation STEPFAMILIES AUSTRALIA has put out a list of expert tips, to help the hundreds-of-thousands of Australians in blended families to navigate an enjoyable festive season.

A special new app MyMob ( has also been launched, allowing families experiencing stress, conflict and/or separation to maintain productive and positive lines of communication.  The app is geared to give children a voice in the midst of difficult times and uses social media style formats, exclusive to the family members involved.

“Christmas can be a spotlight not only on what we have, but also on our concerns and our relationships,” notes Stepfamilies Australia CEO, Karen Field.

“It’s fraught enough when you have to please two sets of grandparents.  Throw in extended family members, mums, dads, step-siblings, plus multiple homes for your children, and you’ll find you may have to spend the entire holiday in the car and under stress.  Discuss where to draw the line.  What’s the solution?”


  • Set realistic expectations and compromise and accept the fact it’s not possible to please everyone.
  • Accept that you are going to have to divide up the holidays in some fashion so make sure you enjoy and make the most out of the time you do spend together.
  • It doesn’t all have to be on the one day, suggest options and be open to later in the week or even in the New Year, it’s the getting together not the day that counts.
  • Try to create new traditions your stepfamily will come to claim as their own, and don’t forget that it’s important to continue to honour the traditions family members already hold most dear.
  • Stepsiblings have no shared family history that helps to develop common habits, values, customs, and expectations; and stepsiblings who are living together may also engage in, or at least perceive, more competition for parental time, attention and resources than full siblings. New stepsiblings need your support and understanding, not pressure to feel as though they have to love or like each other.  Keep things simple; talk plans over as a family, don’t go overboard on gift-giving.  Be flexible and negotiate.
  • Remember your partner and make the time special for the two of you whatever it might look like.
  • Don’t expect perfection. No family is completely immune from holiday conflicts, divided loyalties and competition.  This holds just as true for traditional families as it does for stepfamilies.  Remember to relax. The first year or two of stepfamily life can be the toughest, as you wrestle with holiday schedules, clashing traditions and other people’s expectations.  Step back, calm down and breathe!
  • Plan ahead and try to make it the best possible time that you can.
  • If your family is disjointed, a scene of conflict and struggling to communicate, give the new family communication app MyMob ( a try.  It has been specially designed to promote positive communications within families, using social media style formats exclusive to the family involved.