Blended Families Experience Higher Conflict During the Holiday Season

Gillian Sisley

This time of year causes stressors that come with increased relationship clashes, despite the holiday cheer.

The U.S. Bureau of Census reports that 1,300 new stepfamilies are formed each day, with a total of 16% of families living in blended households. The overall success rate varies by family, however, statistics have found that 60-70% of marriages involving children from a previous marriage fail.

Numbers do show, however, that overall American divorces rates are continuing to fall.

And data from the British Educational Research Journal also shows that it isn't the mixture of family members that most affects a child's success, but rather the overall stability of the household.

That said, the holiday season is now upon us, with Christmas just around the corner. And for many, this season is not one of love, peace and joy. Rather it comes with increased stressors, which means that conflict is bound to happen.

Blended families and holiday complications.

This blended familial conflict from stress is especially apparent in a now-viral Reddit post. A mother is being criticized online after she purposely excluded her son, who is from a previous marriage, from participating in a family photo with her other children. The post was published by a 16-year-old who had only just been introduced to his half brothers, ages 6 and 4.

The teenager sets the scene for the situation, saying that he went over to his mother's place to take family photos for Christmas. A photographer arrived, and everyone was dressed up other than the teenager. His mother then told him that he didn't need to be in the photos since they would be going to her new husband's side of the family.

After expressing his upset over being excluded, his mother told him "it's not a big deal", and so he decided to call his father to pick him up. The 16-year-old wonders if he was in the wrong for his reaction. He says that his mother is still mad about it, and that she blames the son for "hurting her feelings" by asking his father to pick him up early.

What do you think? Was the mother justified in wanting Christmas pictures with just her new husband, children and stepkids? Or was she being cruel by excluding her teenage son from the photos?

What stress from the holidays means for family dynamics.

The holidays increase friction in most households, due to higher amounts of stress. A study from 2019 found that, of 2,000 adults surveyed, 88% reported that their stress levels increase during the holiday season.

In another survey conducted by OnePoll, of 2,000 respondents, those who were travelling for the holidays stated that they needed a break after just 54 minutes with family. Despite this data, 95% of those respondents also stated that they believed it was important to spend the holidays with their families.

However, it's important to recognize that holiday stress doesn't affect all people equally. Data shows that holiday stress affects women far more than men. Emotions especially run high from financial stresses and increased anticipation of the upcoming events.

What are your thoughts? Do the holidays come with increased stress for you and your family? Or is this season just like any other day in terms of stress levels?

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