The holidays can be tough for any family. You have the positives; time with friends and family, good food, the opportunity to travel with loved ones, and some of us get a breather from work or time off from school. Then, you have the stressors; traveling with fussy children, seeing family members you might not be all that happy to be around, planning and cooking large meals (sometimes sharing small kitchens with two or three people), the financial depletion of presents and paying for travel expenses.
But, for some families, there are some additional aspects to consider. For parents who “stay together for the kids,” there are issues with being around each other much more than you would like to be. There are tension-filled months for couples who decide to start the divorce process after the holidays. Then, there are the divorced parents who have to coordinate with each other while also attempting to avoid stressing their kids out.
As a child of divorced parents, I can tell you that even in the most amicable divorces, there are additional stressors to take into consideration during the holidays.
The first couple of years after my parent’s divorce, I insisted on all of us spending Christmas together. It was tough to adjust, but my parents found ways to help me get through it.
Here are a few things they did to help me adjust to the holidays with divorced parents:
- They made it a point to have me involved in planning who I was going to be with on the day of the holiday. My parents would make their individual plans and let me know what they were doing, I would decide who I would be with on that day. Then, whoever I wasn’t going to be with would schedule when we would have our substitute Christmas/Thanksgiving.
- They never made me feel guilty for choosing to spend that holiday with the other parent. If I wanted to travel to visit my grandparents with my mom for Thanksgiving instead of seeing my dad, he never got angry with me. We would just have “second Christmas” or “second Thanksgiving” at some point, so it was just a matter of scheduling it.
- If what I wanted to do interfered with one of my parents’ plans, we would talk about it and come to a logical solution. We considered cost, if it meant not being able to see family members, and why I wanted to spend the holidays differently than what either of them planned.
- They didn’t make it about themselves. They recognized that holidays are especially important for children, and they made it a priority to ensure I was able to build happy memories. Happy memories don’t come from your parents arguing.
Like any parent, I know you want your kids to be happy. I would highly recommend taking these steps to help your children have the best holiday experience they can.
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