Previously we discussed some considerations regarding children, divorce and the holidays, such as specific holiday parenting plans and focusing on the children during the holidays. Here are some additional tips to consider when dealing with divorce over the holidays.
Keep the Family and Friends in Check – Time during the holidays typically brings visits with friends and extended family. For both groups, this may be the first time they can “really let you know how they felt about your ex-spouse!” Gently remind those well meaning folks it is best if these thoughts are expressed outside the presence of your children. Remember that derogatory statements about your ex spouse are not only a derogatory statement about a person who your child loves deeply but also a person with whom your child strongly identifies. Kids hear more than we give them credit for and no child should have to listen to others “bad mouth” their parent.
Something Old, Something New – Holidays are filled with tradition and tradition is laden with memories, both good and bad. Following a divorce it is important to pay some attention to tradition, but it is also a time to create new traditions and new memories. Just because you have “always done it” one way, does not mean that a new approach may not offer a positive or fulfilling experience. It is a new time for your family, it is time to explore some new ways to celebrate the holidays.
Time is Short – There are only so many more holiday seasons when our children will be with us – before they have their own lives and separate traditions. Keep this in mind and help make the holidays enjoyable for your children. Work to make your home a place that they will want to visit with you, not only now but also in the future. Griping about the injustices and wrongdoings of your ex spouse will not make your children happier to be spending the holidays with you. Be the supportive and enthusiastic parent who sees the holidays as an opportunity to create lasting memories of peace, love and understanding.
Be Wary of Third Party Involvement - You are divorced or getting divorced. For you, perhaps, it has been a long time coming and you are ready for romantic involvement with a significant third party. However, experts recommend giving your children approximately one year after separation before they see you interacting with a significant third party (a dating interest). Moreover, forcing children into situations with significant third parties too early can sabotage the positive long term connections that your children may ultimately form with your romantic interest. As a result, especially during separations or recent divorces, you might consider holding off from spending holidays with that special person during your parenting time. Instead, consider making this holiday one where you and your children enjoy your time together without distractions from third parties.
It is Up to You. You have an important role in your children’s experiences of holidays. Work with your co parent to clarify the timesharing expectations and do your best to create a positive experience for your children during their time with you over the holidays.