How do you cope with the holidays in stepfamilies? Punt, the experts say.
Stepfamilies have to make their own holiday rituals in a way that rotates visits among the children's various families.
Many divorce decrees help by stipulating who goes where on the holidays. Some use an odd-even system: in even years, the mother gets the children on Thanksgiving and on Christmas Day. The father then has the youngsters from the day after Christmas through New Year's. On odd years, the reverse is true.
Other special occasions also pose dilemmas. Who walks the bride down the aisle? Who sits where? And who pays for weddings, graduation parties and bar mitzvahs?
Jeff Robbins and his wife, Anna, who live in Silver Spring, faced some of these difficulties when Robbins' daughter, Talia, was bat mitzvahed three years ago. Their solution: Robbins picked up the tab for the party and gave his former wife -- the child's mother -- a number of invitations to send to her friends. The following day, the Robbinses gave a party for out-of-town relatives and friends.
Another family in New York struggled over who would walk the bride down the aisle. The bride's father, who had not kept in close contact with his daughter, demanded to be the escort.
The family compromised. The father attended the wedding and sat at a table with his relatives. The bride, however, elected to walk alone down the aisle.