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Stepfamily stress during the holidays

CHAPEL HILL, N.C., Dec. 22 (UPI) -- The holiday season can heap sizable stress and frustration on stepfamilies, a U.S. social worker says.

Anne Jones of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill says 20 percent to 25 percent of children will be part of a stepfamily before age 18. Peace and cheer, she says, can be especially challenging for stepfamilies, also known as blended families.

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To help deal with some stepfamily issues, Jones recommends giving thought to following traditions or come up with some new practices.

"Step families have to think about what old traditions to preserve and what new ones to create," Jones says in a statement. "These can be around decorating, baking, socializing or outdoor activities. Make a plan, but be flexible: Advanced planning, good communication and added flexibility can assist in making the season more enjoyable."

Some of her other suggestions include:

-- Setting reasonable expectations: While it's natural to dream about having the perfect holiday, this can be a set up for disappointment and frustration. Expect children will occasionally misbehave and feel sad or irritable.

-- Trying not to over-schedule. Give children time to decompress as they move from place to place.

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-- Making sure everyone gets the proper amount of rest and down time.

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