by: Janeen Diamond
Quote: “It feels good to come together as spouses, exes, children, step-children, half-siblings, whatever the case may be..."
During the Christmas season, I think we all have slightly bigger hearts than we do throughout the year. That’s why I think you might put some serious thought into this unusual idea.It’s not really mine -- at least it didn’t start out that way, but over time I have started to see the wisdom in it and accept it as a brilliant plan.
Let me give credit where credit is due -- this was my dad’s proposal.
I have two grown children with my first husband and one teenager with my second. One year during a family get together, my dad proposed to me that we invite my first husband and his wife to our party, along with their grown daughter who is very close to my children. It sounded a bit odd at first, but I said okay because maybe it would just make things a little nicer for my older kids -- not to mention a little more interesting for the rest of us...
To my surprise, they accepted the invitation, and they have since become regulars at some of our family gatherings.
At our family breakfast last weekend, my dad and I talked about really stepping out of our comfort zone and inviting my teenager’s dad to our next party. This one is a little bit harder for me, but how great would it be for my daughter to see that we truly are one big happy family -- or at least trying our best to be. I am still working on this one, but maybe next summer we can have him join us all for a summer barbecue.
When life gets as complicated as mine has, you have no choice but to have a sense of humor and a sense of adventure. Go for the crazy ideas and think outside the box. It feels good to come together as spouses, exes, children, step-children, half-siblings, whatever the case may be, and just let go of all the jealousies, bitterness and resentment and LIVE! My dad has taught me great things in my life, and at 87 years old, he still keeps coming up with some surprises.
So, if I can get you thinking about getting the WHOLE family together next year to try this idea out for your own family, here are some guidelines that might help:
If there are ill feelings beyond your own little unit -- like maybe your siblings don’t speak to your ex -- sit them down and tell them this is about the children and teaching them about unconditional love.
Perhaps your current spouse doesn’t like the idea AT ALL -- spend some time talking him through it and maybe even have your children discuss their feelings with him. If it’s approached in the right way, you can probably get him to at least agree to a trial get-together.
Maybe you have a difficult relationship with your children’s step-parent. Take this opportunity to get to know them and at least work on liking them -- for the kids. I’m a big believer in ‘if you don’t like someone it’s probably because you don’t really know them.’ Now I realize this may be oversimplifying things and there are situations that warrant negative feelings. But think about giving it a try. And keep reminding yourself it’s for the betterment of your own children. No matter what’s going on among the adults, I promise your kids would rather see you all getting along.
I think my dad has shown great wisdom in working on this idea. I believe it’s helping my kids feel like they get to have their whole family together -- all the parents, and all the siblings.
Don’t get me wrong. There has been a learning curve, and some awkward moments here and there, but I believe over time those things will work themselves out.
In my book, “Save Your Marriage in 30,” I wrote a chapter called Ten Reasons To Keep It Together. My most compelling reason that I listed in that chapter is, that you will always long for your original family to be intact. Well, at this point, this is as close as I’ll ever be able to come to that concept. But I like the idea that we can choose to all come together and share our new lives and our past lives with each other and with all of our kids.
We didn’t keep it together, but we have a chance to bring it all back together in a creative and positive way.
I’m so grateful that I have a father who has such great wisdom and never stops coming up with crazy ideas!
Janeen Diamond left KUTV News in 2001 after the birth of her daughter, Gabby. Since that time, she has been actively producing commercials and special programming through her company, “Your TV Spot.” She has hosted several television and internet productions, and has been a spokesperson for several products and companies. Janeen has authored her first book, “Save Your Marriage in 30,” and hopes to help families have greater success and live happier lives. She takes a special interest in helping kids stay on track with their lives. Janeen is currently co-creating “Teen Impact TV,” a website for high school students to give them a creative and emotional outlet. She is the director of Public Relations and on the Advisory Board of Hope After Divorce 501(c)(3) and the Divorce Support Center, and is also a contributing expert at http://www.hopeafterdivorce.org,HopeAfterDivorce.org,http://www.familyshare.com, FamilyShare.com,http://www.cupidspulse.com, CupidsPulse.com,http://www.lafamily.com,LAFamily.com.