Your First Christmas Divorced: Tips For Making It Seamless For Your Kids
Christmas is a cherished family holiday for those who celebrate. It is a time when families come together in celebrations to share food and gifts, observe traditions, and create memories. However, celebrating Christmas during or shortly after a divorce can present complex challenges for families, particularly those with children.
Hurt feelings and power struggles between divorced parents can make holidays a tense time, and children often get caught in the middle. However, divorced parents can take steps to help their children adapt to the new family arrangements and have an enjoyable celebration despite their current circumstances. Here are some tips for helping your children enjoy what might be a difficult holiday season:
Parents should initiate open communication with each other and their children well before the holidays. Give yourself ample time to negotiate a schedule with your ex-spouse, so there are no upsetting surprises or hurt feelings on the big day. An Edmonton divorce lawyer may be able to help you create a holiday parenting plan that works best for your family.
There are various creative ways to ensure that both parents get to spend time with their children during the holidays. Some families take turns spending every other Christmas with their kids, especially if they are separated by large physical distances. In these cases, the other parent may get Thanksgiving or another holiday with the children that year in exchange.
Others divide the holidays in half each year. For example, one parent might spend time with their children on Christmas Eve and morning, while the other parent has the children for the remainder of the day and Christmas dinner. Occasionally, families come together for major events like holidays, especially when they occur close to the divorce.
Many impromptu celebrations and family gatherings can occur throughout the season. Therefore, both parents need to be adaptable to changes in their children's schedules and accommodate last-minute changes in plans. This give-and-take approach can take practice, but it could benefit both parents and children in the long run.
Setting boundaries around the gifts you buy your children can also help the holidays go smoothly. It is natural to want to make your kids happy, and if they have recently experienced a divorce, you may feel compelled to compensate with lavish gifts. Often, this can turn into a competition between parents.
Engaging in competition for your children's affection can set an expensive precedent for future holidays and celebrations. Doing so will ultimately fail to fulfill your children's most intimate holiday wish: to feel loved and supported by both of their parents. If you feel comfortable doing so, talk to your ex about what gifts each of you intends to give your children. Consider setting a budget so that neither of you feels the need to compete with one another.
Talk to your kids in advance about the ways in which the holiday season will be different this year so that they know what to expect. Setting expectations could spare your children from disappointment when the holidays go differently than they had imagined. Your children may express sadness that this year's holidays will be different than those in the past. Let them share their feelings. Doing so can help them process complex emotions. You can reassure your kids that it is natural to be sad after a divorce and affirm that your family will make it through this challenging time. Children often look to their parents for emotional cues, so appearing calm and confident might help them overcome their sadness.
Be the Adult
Children are sensitive to their parent's emotions. They often worry about hurting their parents' feelings, especially when they see them living through the emotional challenges of a divorce. Asking your children questions about their holiday preferences, including which parent they would like to celebrate with, can be stressful. Let your kids express their wishes , and work with them to find a solution that will appeal to all members of the family.
Embrace New Traditions
Divorces can present families with the opportunity to create new holiday traditions. While you may not be able to reprise every activity you previously enjoyed as a family, you can use the holiday season to develop new, creative, and meaningful traditions that your kids will enjoy for years to come. Even small gestures can help your children feel connected to you if you are apart during the holidays.
Divorces can be emotionally challenging. Sometimes, feelings of loneliness and anxiety can be exacerbated by the holiday season, especially if you are apart from your children. It is important to surround yourself with friends and family as much as possible. Practice self-care in ways that are meaningful to you. Consider seeking out self-help books, psychotherapy, or other forms of counseling to take care of your mental health.
Take the High Road
The Christmas season encourages families to set aside their anger and ill-will. During this busy time of year, consider how your behaviour impacts your children's emotional well-being. Instead of squabbling over petty issues, think about how your actions can help your children feel cherished and safe. If you and your ex can put aside your differences and focus on your children's happiness, in time, the new holiday traditions you create can lead to happy, precious memories – the best gift of all.
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* Please note that the information in this article is not intended as legal advice but rather as a general overview of family law. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with a lawyer.