Divorce is difficult for children, especially around the holidays. Questions come up like “will Santa know where to bring my presents” or “will I see mommy and daddy over the holidays?” Of course, it is hard for parents too. The first holiday after the divorce may be the first time you do not get to celebrate the holiday with your children. Grandparents may complain about missing the little ones, confusion sets in as to who will be where at what time, it’s a lot to deal with.
It is important to focus on making the holidays as happy for your children and not cause more disharmony with the ex. After all, it is a time for celebrations and good will. If your children are happy over the holidays, it is likely you will be too.
Here are a couple of tips to help you through the holiday season:
- The holidays are not a competition. It is not a time to show up your ex by spending lots of money or overdoing the holidays. Instead coordinate gifts and events with your child’s other parent. Do not try to buy your child’s love – show them in your acts.
- Celebrate your traditions and create new ones. Maybe your child always spends Christmas Eve at your ex’s parents’ home. Do not deny your child the tradition, especially if it is something he or she loves and looks forward to doing. Instead, work out a schedule that allows your child to celebrate some of the old traditions, and plan new things to do together when they can’t do everything they used to do. After all, it is more about your children than about you and your ex.
- Talk to your ex before the holidays to make plans. It is easier for everyone if you have a plan. Get out a calendar and make a schedule with your ex. Figure out drop offs and pick ups, and where you will each be spending the holidays. The holiday schedule should also include time for school work and projects that inevitably come up right around the school break. Let your child know what the plans are so that he or she can feel more certain about seeing each parent during the holidays and what to expect.
- Talk to your family before the holidays. While you and your child’s other parent may have worked out everything ahead of time, your family may not agree. Grandparents and other family members may unknowingly impact on your child’s holiday schedule. They also may say things about the other parent that your child does not need to hear. If they are prepared ahead of time, they are less likely to cause a disruption in your plans and make for a happier holiday for everyone.
- Invite your ex to your activities. If your child’s other parent gets along with your family and always spends the holidays with them, it is OK to include him or her in your holiday celebrations. He or she likely will appreciate the gesture and it makes for good will. Make sure to also include him or her in school concerts, holiday plays and other events that come up during the holiday. Your child will love having both of his parents in the audience watching him perform.
- Do not make your child feel guilty about having fun with the other parent during the holidays. Children want to let you know about all the fun they had at the party or other celebration. A child does not need to hear how mom or dad was home alone crying while she was out with the other parent. Ask them if they had a good time and let them tell you all the fun they had without judgment. Let them know you are happy they had a good time. Assure them that you missed them but you are OK.
The holiday can be a challenge. If you plan ahead and work with your ex, it can still be a magical time for your children.
Happy Holidays to You and Your Family!