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Sharing Holiday Traditions With Adopted Children

By Jodie Lynn


My husband and I adopted a toddler from another country and have two children of our own. How important is it for us to try to share the holiday season as closely as possible to his own country? Or, since he's only 18 months old, should we introduce him to his customs when he his older and can better understand things?


We adopted twin Chinese girls and began celebrating their customs as soon as they turned two. They were only seven months old at the time of adoption, so we gave them some time to settle into their new lives with my husband and I first. We slowly began small traditions and built our own family memories from there. - Anna Williams in Fort Wayne, IN


Much of your decision will be based on how well he is adjusting to his new family life here in America and his physical and emotional health. Your pediatrician will be able to help you with this also. Make sure that you and your husband know as much as possible about each celebration from his country that you would like to share with him. Compare it to similarities of a holiday or special day here to see if there may be a way to combine the two, yet still teach him about his country of birth. It could be a highly enriching and joyful experiment for everyone in your family as long as you keep it simple and don't try to do too much at once. For example, plan things out based on his age and developmental stage. As he gets older, you can always add more elaborate and history-based things to the event. For beginners, try to get medium- to large-sized children's books with colorful pages for him to visually connect with as you are reading to him about his country. Music, videos and games are always good educational sources as well. Like any child, as he matures, he will most likely have plenty of questions about various things. If you don't know how to answer or even what to say, tell him so. That way, you can perhaps explore the facts together. There may come a time when you feel a bit of a struggle with balancing his family traditions or customs with those of your own. Just take a deep breath and put everything aside for a couple of days and start over. Planning and lots of patience will be your best allies.

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We have a large, blended family with five kids of our own, four sets of grandparents and plenty of nieces and nephews. The holidays can get pretty nuts. What are some gift ideas for young as well as older family members?

To share parenting tips or submit questions, write to: Parent to Parent, 2464 Taylor Road, Suite 131, Wildwood, MO 63040. Email direct2contact, or go to which provides a secure and easy way to submit tips or questions. All tips must have city, state and first and last name or initials to be included in the column.

© Jodie Lynn
Jodie Lynn is an award-winning internationally syndicated family/health columnist and radio personality. Her syndicated column Parent to Parent has been successful for over 10 years and appears in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and throughout the Internet. She is a regular contributor to several sites including,,,,, and Lynn has written four books and contributed to three others, one of which was on Oprah and has appeared on NBC in a three month parenting segment. Her latest books are "Mom CEO (Chief Everything Officer) - Having, Doing and Surviving It All!" (June 2006) and "Syndication Secrets - What No One Will Tell You!" (March 2006).
Please visit for details on her new radio talk show, Inside Parenting Success.


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