Dealing With Late-Life Step Siblings at Thanksgiving

Have new middle aged stepsibings coming to Thanksgiving ?

Posted Nov 12, 2010

In the twenty-first century,  we frequently get divorced and remarried, but so do  our aging parents. Sometimes shockingly, we may acquire unexpected stepsiblings through a parent’s unforeseen late-life marriage. The effects of these autumnal unions can be a new rash of stepsiblings, introduced in your middle age.

You do not have to share your bedroom with them, as stepsiblings must in childhood, but you may be forced to interact through the exploding family web. This can mean negotiating where Mom or Dad celebrates Thanksgiving. Late life step siblings can mean Turkey Day rituals with a remote, remade family. If you already have stepsiblings, or half siblings from childhood divorce, this exploding crop of brother’s and sister’s may make an indigestible menu of  mashed potatoes smothered by lumpy gravy and Thanksgiving on steroids.

Late-life remarriage can bring challenges to your existing stepbrother or sister relationship through these almost menopausal stepparents and stepsiblings. You and your on hand siblings may be feel like punching each other, like the midlife Super Mario Brothers, if either of you disagrees about the new nuptials. Some people embrace the extended families that enfold them in middle age. Other siblings reject them, accepting only their blood relatives. Differing points of view can explode into a new battle.

Money can cause a new rift. Remarriage and new stepsiblings may mean dividing a parent’s estate among more heirs, resulting in a diminished inheritance. Remarried parents can leave their whole estate to a new spouse or autumnal stepsiblings. One of you may accept Mom or Dad’s choice while another may boil over, prompting a new quarrel. Lawsuits can break out as the family drama escalates to the courtroom. Maintaining a united front as you face these family changes takes constant attention to shore up your reborn sibling attachment.

If you have new middle aged stepsibings to fit into the groaning Thanksgiving table, start out on the right foot. Make this a new ritual that your aging parents, married remarried or divorced can actually enjoy and young kids don’t just ditch.

 Use the menu as metaphor. Email a carte du jour requests or use facebook and have one person in change of gathering all meal items. Don’t be rigid about the bill of fare. The idea is to blend a family together that is already made of  mismatched china. If you have turkey and spanokopita and Mom’s famous dressing gets left out- let it go. The idea is to create a new ritual not a perfect festive meal. The repast is already off balance.

You may also consider looking into forgiveness tools like Mom Loves You Best Forgiving and Forging Sibling Relationships for a holiday appetizer. In Dysfunctional aging families this may be a time to start therapy with a professional who works with midlife and aging issues and understands forgiveness.

Try investigating ways to make a solid extended family relationship instead of washing down the turkey with Xanax  and martinis.