'Is It Unreasonable To Not Want My Step Kids With Us Every Christmas?'

A parent admits some years she'd like to spend Christmas with her husband and their toddler, but not his two children from a previous marriage.
NoSystem images via Getty Images

Navigating family arrangements at Christmas can be tricky at the best of times – add divorce and bonus children into the mix and things get infinitely more complicated.

Blended families up and down the country will have various routines they defer to over Christmas. But what happens when one of the parents involved is not happy with the arrangement? Is it best to speak up and potentially cause a rift with your partner and their children? Or keep quiet and gradually build resentment?

One parent recently shared her desire to switch up their Christmas Day routine and spend it with her husband and their toddler, without her two step children in tow.

The parent took to Mumsnet to ask if she was being unreasonable for wanting to make the change. “We have been married three years and together for five,” she said. “He [my husband] basically gets his kids 45% of the time. He does all the pick ups and drop offs and their mum lives around 40 minutes drive away.”

A typical Christmas for the family sees the father pick up his children from their mum’s house just after midday on Christmas Day and then they stay with their dad until Boxing Day evening.

But the parent added it’s “never been ideal” for her and now she and her husband have a toddler together, she wonders if it’s time for a change.

“Him picking up his kids at 1pm means it splits our day right down the middle – we can’t go to my family’s for Christmas lunch and they’ve often eaten lunch at their mum’s so won’t touch my Christmas tea,” she said.

“AIBU [am I being unreasonable] to ask every second year we do Christmas the three of us and collect them on Boxing Day morning?” the parent asked.

“I don’t mind things staying the same this year but any suggestions moving forward would be appreciated.”

What should she do?

People had mixed feelings about the situation. Lots believed there would be no harm in asking, but some questioned the parent’s motives and whether they were trying to push the partner’s other two children away.

“Your posts are all about ‘you’ and ‘your’ family,” said one commenter. “If you marry someone with children they become your family.”

“I’d ask, not because it makes things easier for you but because it’s better for them not to have their Christmas day split,” added a respondent.

“You can only ask,” said another. ”[It] Depends how amenable his ex is also as it might affect her plans too.”

One commenter recommended asking, but not focusing on the desire to spend Christmas as a trio without the step children. “I’d focus on having a full Xmas day with the step kids some years and a full day with them on Boxing Day the others,” they suggested.

“It’s the same message but presented as more focused around the step kids and will therefore likely be received more willingly.”

There were plenty of other parents that could sympathise with the situation.

One recalled: “We had this the first few years I was with my husband. It was awful. We were always meant to pick up at 2, and then we would get a text to say they were running late, so make it 3, 4, 5pm. (We live 5 minutes away from the mum.)

“The last year we did it we were meant to be at my parents’ for 3pm, we got there at 7. It was awful, so awkward for everyone who had decided to wait for us to eat as we kept saying we won’t be long.”

The parent said in the end they agreed that the children’s mum would have them on Christmas Day and they would have them on Boxing Day – “so much easier to plan and much more enjoyable for everyone,” they added.

Ultimately, most agreed that the fairest way to navigate the situation is to alternate set-ups each year – so they would have the children on Christmas Day one year, and Boxing Day the next.