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Helping Children of Divorce Cope During the Holidays.

I have never spoken about my divorce before. I feel that somethings are just private and shouldn't be thrown out for strangers to read. It is a personal matter and for the sake of my children shouldn't be regarded as a light subject.

With that being said I want to share a few things with you.

The divorce became final in 2001 I think. Maybe 2002. Is really isn't important about the dates. The holidays have always been stressful for me and I know it has been for them. I wanted to spend as much time as I could with my babies and so did their dad. We have shared the holiday season. Usually that means I accommodate him more than myself. Okay, let me stop because I don't want to point fingers. ~whistling~ (He always busted a gut to spend time with his family but rushed when we were at mine. For example they were at his house Thanksgiving all day, they were at my house TWO WHOLE hours! Fair?)

Sooooooo here we are coming to a MAJOR holiday and all I want to do is make an environment where my kids can enjoy their presents and their family. I did a Google search and found a great site about helping kids cope.

What Children of Divorce Experience During the Holidays

Children of separated families may find the holiday season to be more difficult than usual.

  • Children may feel anxious from the excess chaos
  • They may feel caught in the middle as parents negotiate who spends what time where
  • They may feel resentful at having to leave friends and family to stay with a non-custodial parent
  • Children may feel overwhelmed and exhausted as they are shuffled back and forth between houses
  • They may feel as though they wish they could "split themselves in half" so that each parent will be satisfied
  • They may feel sad as they reminisce on holidays when the family was still together
  • Kids may miss one parent while spending time with the other
  • They may feel guilty at leaving the other parent alone on a holiday

Tips for Divorced Parents to Survive the Holidays

There are many things that both parents can do to enjoy the holidays and ease the transition for their children.

  • Teach the child to embrace his expanded family and the fact that he gets to celebrate the holidays twice
  • Do not over-indulge the child with too many presents or candy; this is not healthy for anyone
  • One parent should not compete with the other over who gets the child a "better gift" – if possible, strategize with the other parent to ensure even gift-giving
  • Have a set schedule, preferably one that is set by family court. Typically, parents should alternate holidays each year. This takes the burden off the child having to decide where he would like to spend his time and also minimize arguing between parents
  • Let the child in on the schedule in advance so that they know what to expect
  • Put differences aside – do not argue with an ex-spouse in front of the child
  • Teach the child what the holiday is truly about so that they can better appreciate the experience
  • Plan fun outings and make new traditions such as caroling, ice skating, or catching a new movie in between the holidays to minimize the importance of a single big celebration
  • Keep time together simple so that the child does not feel overburdened and overwhelmed
  • Set a positive example so that the child is able to enjoy himself; parents should express their own frustrations to another adult, not to their child
  • Recognize that most children want and need contact with both of their parents, especially during the holidays
  • Allow the child to have phone or email contact with the other parent, especially on the holiday itself
  • Allow the child to vent any frustrations
  • Love and celebrate the child during these special times

The best thing that both parents can do is to recognize and be aware of their child’s emotions during this sensitive time. There is no time like the holidays for parents embroiled in separation disagreements to find a common ground – teaching their child to enjoy the magic of the season.

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This is SPOT ON!!!! I think divorced parents need to remember that is isn't about THEM but about the CHILDREN! I am very proud of myself for never putting any sort of guilt trip on my children if they want to be with their dad. If they wanted to call him I would dial the number. If they wanted to do a function when they were here that required them being with him, I didn't mind. (Except if that rolled around on every Saturday that they were here and we had plans.)

I just want my children to enjoy the holidays without worrying who's feelings they will hurt. I want them to think about their own feelings and enjoy this wonderful Christmas season. We have so much to be thankful for! I think it's Christmas every day of the year because I have my children, husband, family and life.

3 comments:

Antonio NYC said...

This is a great blog. The holidays and blended families are always tough issues to deal with. Here are some other articles related to the same topic of helping children of divorce cope during the holidays:

http://www.firstwivesworld.com/resource/resource-articles/cathy-meyer/your-child-s-first-post-divorce-christmas

http://www.firstwivesworld.com/resource/resource-articles/jill-brooke/holiday-gifts-how-not-offend-the-step-kids

Here are some great articles about kids and divorce in general:
http://www.firstwivesworld.com/resource_directory/kids-family-and-divorce.htm

~ Donna ~ said...

Great post - we are a blended family too and have a good situation on one side where we put the children first and a tough one on the other side dealing with one very selfish non custodial parent. I have pledged this year that she will not ruin our kids Christmas - I wish I could email her this info!

Nicole said...

I found this post (and your blog) via a BlogHer search, and I applaud you for discussing this in such a tactful way. I am in the midst of a contested divorce myself, and I don't blog about it at all for the reasons you mentioned. Thanks for the great thoughts on the holidays. I'll definitely put them to use next Christmas. :-)