If you are a divorced or separated parent of minor children, the holidays can be a major hurdle to overcome. This is especially true if the separation or divorce is recent and the upcoming winter holidays will be the first celebrated since the split.
Still, there are ways for parents to mitigate the adverse effects of divorce and allow their children to experience normalcy and even joy despite the new normal. Below are some tips to keep in mind when planning your holiday events
Encourage the kids to remain connected to their other parent
Despite your own feelings toward your ex, remember your child loves them very much. Allowing them to make or buy a holiday gift to give their other parent facilitates a healthy continuation of the relationship they had before the divorce. You can also cooperate so that the kids have a chance to spend time with both parents over the holidays.
It’s not a competition
This is especially important if there is a significant disparity between the incomes of the parents. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to outdo the other parent when it comes to gift-giving or planning elaborate holiday trips. Rather, work together to ensure the children have the best holiday possible.
Explore new traditions
Divorce brings changes, many of which are perceived by the kids as negative. Maybe the family always made a big deal out of searching for the perfect holiday tree or attending religious services together. Since this year will be different, consider starting some new traditions, such as caroling around the neighborhood or taking the kids to volunteer to serve holiday meals at a homeless shelter.
Respect their feelings
Children experience different emotions when their parents divorce. Many times, they will regress and exhibit the behaviors of younger children and act out inappropriately. Parents can listen to their children and help them work through these challenging feelings.
If you feel that your kids need more help than you’re qualified to provide, ask your family law attorney or the kids’ pediatrician for a recommendation for a children and family counselor.