In just a couple of short weeks, families across Pennsylvania and throughout the United States will gather to break bread and give thanks as the official 2016 holiday season kicks off. While typically considered a happy and celebratory time, under even the best of circumstances, the holidays can be stressful.
For couples and families who are experiencing a recent separation or divorce, this holiday season is likely to be an especially difficult time. This is particularly true in cases where a soon-to-be or recently divorced couple has younger children. While there are no official rules for how to navigate the uncomfortable encounters and varied challenges this holiday season may bring, keeping your children and their well-being and best interests in mind is a good place to start.
3 holiday survival tips for recently separated or divorced parents
- Acknowledge The Changes – A recent split or divorce creates a lot of changes and upheaval for all family members. While relatives aren’t expecting you to bear your heart and soul and spend the holidays crying, it’s ok to acknowledge when you are feeling sad and sentimental. This is also true when it comes to talking to and interacting with your children as they are probably feeling the same way. Encouraging children to talk openly about their feelings can help you all become closer and aid in the healing process.
- Be Kind And Fair – While the prospect of not spending the holidays with your children may seem unbearable, it’s important to find a way to compromise with your ex. When logistically possible, it may work to hold two Thanksgiving celebrations on different nights. Whatever solution you and your ex are able to find, it’s important to always think of your children and not just yourself. Yes, spending Thanksgiving without your children will be hard, but is it really in their best interest to spend hours traveling in the car or to be dragged to and from each parent’s respective family gatherings? This year in particular, try to avoid anything that puts too much stress or expectations on your children.
- Create New Traditions – Many families have holiday traditions. However, in the wake of a split or divorce, maintaining certain traditions may, for a host of reasons, be difficult. Carrying on with some cherished traditions might be important to both you and your children. It’s ok, however, to let go of those old traditions that cause too much pain and to make an effort to forge new ones. It may even be fun to come up with ideas with your children and to let them select which ones they like best.
After a separation or divorce, there will continue to be many occasions and things that remind you of the past and life with your ex. With the holidays quickly approaching, now is a good time to formulate a plan for how you and your ex plan to make this holiday season happy and joyful for your children.