The holidays are supposed to be a time of family and fun, but what do you do if you’re navigating a separation or recently divorced? No matter which holidays you celebrate or your family traditions, some things will change, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Here are three tips to help you navigate the holiday season with your new family dynamic.
- Make Normal the Goal
While it may seem counterintuitive, one of the best things you can do for your children is to keep the holidays as normal as possible. If you usually open presents on Christmas Day together, try to do that. This can feel awkward and isn’t easy, but it’s a goal to strive towards. If things are too tense between you and your co-parent to do the whole holiday together, consider a few hours of family time for the most important things or traditions.
- Nail Down the Logistics Beforehand
It is normal to want to avoid having discussions about the holidays when you are already dealing with a lot of life transitions and adjustments. However, it is critical to tackle these issues early. Try to schedule a meeting with your co-parent to go over the holiday schedule a few weeks, or even months, beforehand. Make sure to bring along a copy of the children’s school schedules so that you know the dates of the planned school breaks and can discuss whether one or the other of you would like to take the children out of school for travel.
It is also important to ensure that all these decisions are made only by the two of you as as the parents. It is tempting to ask your children what they want to do, but it puts them in a difficult place where they may feel like they are picking one parent over the other or must make decisions that they don’t want to be the responsible for. By making all of the decisions as parents, it frees the children up to just follow along and enjoy the holidays without worry.
- Focus on the Kids
It is normal for parents to feel a lot of emotions about the holidays. It is hard to be separated from your children for any part of a special day. It is important to recognize and validate those feelings. However, it is also important to remember that your kids are just kids and should not have to deal with your feelings. One of the best things you can do for your children is to support them through these changes. Let them know that you love them and are there for them. Something as simple as sending them off to the other parent’s house with a “It’s okay! I know you’ll have a great time with everyone there, and I can’t wait for you to tell me about it” will go a long way toward assuring that they have a good holiday celebration.
For assistance with any aspect of your divorce, contact us at Chase, Berenstein and Murray, Counselors at Law.