15 Dec Ho Ho Ho: Holiday Parenting for Divorcing Families
It’s the time of year when stress runs high for divorced or divorcing parents: the holidays. Emotions run high and feelings get hurt. Old family traditions are now defunct as families try to find ways to move through the holidays with two households instead of one, sometimes with new stepparents and stepsiblings in the mix as well. Strangely, some divorcing families are able to manage with what appears to be some level of aplomb. Here are a list of suggestions to help your family through the holidays with a minimum of conflict and even some holiday cheer:
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. This is a new world and you have to work with the parenting plan you have. If it is your year with the children, take the opportunity to make it a special time of year. If it isn’t, take a trip out of town and have a blast with friends. Your holidays will be exactly as good as you decide to make them.
- Make your children the focus of the holidays, not your conflict with your former spouse. The holidays shouldn’t be a time when your children have to choose between you.
- Instead of retreading old family traditions, make some new ones. Do a “Secret Santa”, attend a midnight mass, or wrap presents for the needy. Divorce is a great time for refocusing the lens on new ways to do things.
- Don’t forget to help your children make presents for their other parent. Everyone wants to be remembered during the holidays and making this a priority will help smooth the conflict and also show your children that you can support the other parent’s relationship with them.
- Don’t bash the new traditions of the children’s other parent. I remember being so disappointed to find out that my children had spent Thanksgiving one year with their father in a Denny’s restaurant in Idaho and thinking that their holiday had been ruined. Turns out that is one of my kids’ favorite Thanksgiving memories.
- Don’t overindulge. Nothing says “Grinch” like drunk-texting your ex during the holidays.
- Finally, be kind… both to yourself and to those around you. It’s good advice throughout the year, but especially appropriate during the holidays.