I would very much appreciate some advice on this pressing (after all, it is September) issue that has been troubling me. I am married to a man who has three children from his former marriage, ages 18, almost 17, and 14. We had a baby last spring. My husband and I normally send out Christmas/holiday cards every year, and this year I'd like to send those photo cards that everyone with a child seems to send -- especially since I didn't manage to include a photo of the baby with the birth announcement. The dilemma of course is whether it is OK to send a photo of JUST the baby - does this disrespect the other children? To give the full picture, they live with their mother, and visit us a couple of times a week and on alternate weekends. My thinking is that even people with "traditional" families sometimes send out a photo card of just the baby and not the older children. I don't think the older kids would mind, if they even were aware of it. I also feel that if we send out a photo card of the four of them, it is usurping or disrespecting the mother of the other three, and might make them feel uncomfortable -- sort of disloyal to their mother. (I have to say I wouldn't be too pleased if she was sending out a photocard that included my baby). But, I'm not sure I'm right on this, and I'm not sure what the solution is. Should we ask the kids what they think? Or does this just put them on the spot? One obvious answer is just to skip the whole thing...but, I want to do it! Thoughts/comments/ideas from anyone with good judgment and/or similar experiences would be appreciated.
alternatively - invite all interested parties to participate in the construction of the card. Collectively you will be able to make a beautiful card, assuming of course that you want their help.
What I would want - avoid the baby christmas card altogether. As you said, they are very popular. How about a drawing of the child, just the child, going to everyone you know. A line drawing of the child - big face confronting the viewer, with a line drawing of you and your husband encirling the child in a dancy pose. good luck
I have two teenagers, and I know that even when they pretend not to care much about such things, they are really very sensitive, and they appreciate being included, and treated considerately, even though they show no signs of appreciation. So I would recommend starting a new tradition of a Christmas photo that includes all the children in the family - your baby as well as older brothers/sisters.
As to their mother, maybe your husband can mention to her as a courtesy that you both would like to include the older children on your Christmas cards this year as a way of helping them feel closer to their new baby bro or sis. If their mother has strong objections, you should drop the idea and say nothing to the kids. Just send out regular cards. If there are friends and family who haven't seen the baby yet, enclose a photo.
My heart goes out to you, really very much, because I am both a stepdaughter and I have a partner with young adult children. And I have young children with my ex-husband.
The family things over the last 20 years that my father's second wife (I choke on 'stepmother') has excluded my brother and me from have hurt, hurt, hurt. My mother died when I was young, so there was never the thought of hurting her feelings (just her memory), but the result is that after 20 years I have cool regard for this person and doubt our relationship will warm much. I probably would have declined the invitations, but it would have been nice to have been thought of. Her kids are the center of her universe, and while she likes to claim me as a daughter when it grants her some kind of credit or privilege, she otherwise doesn't give us much thought.
Last year when it was time for my partner and me to send greetings, we took a photo of the two of us and my two kids, and a photo of him with his boys and their ancient dog. (They don't live with us, and I am mindful to treat them as a caring middle aged adult would treat any other young person, with no relationships assumed.) Conversely, my partner in no way imagines that he is taking over any of my kids' father's rights or privileges. He sees himself as a caring adult in their lives, and has proved to be a very useful one. (Some things you are uncomfortable talking to one or the other parent about, but an unrelated but close adult friend is more approachable.) He has expanded their close community of adult kin. After taking two sets of photos, including all the kids in our lives, we thought about who would like which pictures, and we sent them those. We didn't send a lot. BTW, when I was part of the classic nuclear unblended family, I was always very enthusiastic every year about sending a family photo and I never sent a picture of 'just the baby' -- that would have seemed impossible.
Every year we visit my dad and his wife, at my mother's family home, and we take every combination of photos so no one's feelings are crushed -- everyone in the little neighborhood; just me and my dad; me, Dad and the kids; with and without the steps, you get the idea. No one has to know which photo someone else got!
The comparison to your stepchildren's mother sending out a card with your baby's picture on it doesn't actually work, because she is not either parent to the baby, whereas your husband is definitely the father of his first three kids, and always will be. Have you asked him what he'd like to do?
My heartfelt, hypersensitive advice is to accept every opportunity to lovingly include your husband's first three children in your new blended family. You can give the older kids an option to bow out if they're uncomfortable, but let them know you care for them in the manner of a loving if unrelated adult. They will probably thank you for the respect years later. But an act of omission is also likely to be long remembered.
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