One of the toughest transitions for children of divorce is coping with the first holiday season. As parents our challenge is to create new traditions and activities that can replace the memories of family holidays in the past. Here are some suggestions for helping your children keep the best spirits through the holiday season.
Be Attentive and Compassionate
Talk to your children about the holidays. Listen, and don’t lecture. Let them vent about their feelings, regrets and frustrations. Acknowledge what they are expressing to you and show compassionate understanding. Be aware that some children will hold their feelings in as a means to protect you. Reassure them that it’s okay to talk about their sadness as well as apprehension about what they will experience this year.
Remind your children that what they are feeling is natural and normal. Be there for them with reassurance and hugs. Also let them know that some activities will still be part of their holiday celebrations. Help them understand that much of life will still continue in the same way, despite divorce.
Be Responsible Regarding Your Ex
Studies show that children whose divorced parents get along with one another adapt much easier to the divorce. So talk to your ex about giving your children a happy holiday season in every possible way. If you can both spend some family time together with the children, without discord, they will appreciate your efforts. If you can’t, at least strive to make the drop-off experience peaceful and harmonious. Never bad-mouth your ex to the children, make them your messenger or have them spy for you at their other parent’s home. Model your best, most respectful and mature behavior with your ex in front of your children so they can enjoy their childhood, especially at this time of year.
Be Creative in Starting New Memories
This year will lay the foundation for many holidays to come. So think about new ways to celebrate, new places to visit, new foods to prepare. By creating a fresh set of traditions you will give your children something to look forward to. By replacing old memories with the new, you can make the holidays special again for them. And if they do the same in their other parent’s home, they can enjoy an even fuller experience of celebrating the holidays.
By acknowledging your children’s feelings with compassion while offering them new options for keeping the holidays special, you are giving your children an important gift: the love and support they need to overcome the challenges of being a child of divorce.
Written by: Rosalind Sedacca
Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Divorce & Parenting Coach, founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! For Rosalind’s free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right, plus Rosalind’s free ebook and other valuable resources for parents, visit: www.childcentereddivorce.com.