Traditionally, the holidays are associated with family gatherings, joyful memories, and the excitement of giving presents to loved ones and friends. Children experiencing separation, however, may have difficulty enjoying the holiday season.
They may worry that their parents will fight over how they share the holidays. They might miss the other parent, especially when engaging in familiar family traditions. The child may feel disloyal if they are having too much fun with one parent or concerned about the other parent’s well-being. There might even be a fear that their mom and/or dad will find someone else to spend the holiday with instead of them.
However, you can do several things to ensure that your children have a happy holiday season despite these anxieties.
1) Get help with scheduling disputes
Don’t involve your children in any conflict over the holiday schedule. Consider getting help from a neutral third party like a family therapist or parenting coordinator.
2) Plan ahead, but not alone
Your children will feel less anxious if they know what to expect during the holidays. Try to include your kids when you plan your holiday and allow them to pick their favorite activities.
3) Maintain new traditions or create new ones
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to divorce and holidays. For some children, it may be beneficial to maintain holiday traditions. For others, it may be better to create a new tradition with them. Carefully consider which one would be best for your children’s age and stage.
4) Accept all feelings, including your own
Acknowledge your own feelings of sadness, anger, and loss during the holiday season. Talk to a friend or therapist, if needed about your separation . Processing your feelings will help you be more present with your children and accept their feelings. Likewise, if your child feels sad, don’t try to talk them out of it. They will usually move through the emotion and find a way to enjoy the holiday. If they are not moving through their feelings and you are concerned about their mental health, speak to a family therapist about your observations.
5) Help children stay connected with both parents during the holiday season
While it may be difficult for you, be magnanimous and encourage your children to call your ex-spouse during the holiday, or at least make a card for them. Your generosity will benefit you and your children.
The holiday season is a special time for many families, but it can also be a challenging time for those who are going through a separation. However, a little sensitivity and forethought can help you make the holiday season a happy one for your children.Share this article on: