We are continuing our discussion of how newly divorced or separated people cope with family holidays. In our last post, we talked about couples without children and their challenges at family gatherings.
With kids in the picture, though, the holidays can turn into a battle of traditions. For example, what if the kids have always spent Thanksgiving with their father’s large extended family, but their father is taking his new family instead? Mom can try to create a new tradition, but she and the kids’ father will have to figure out a way to make sure their children understand that change isn’t their fault. Likewise, if the kids and their father go to his family’s and leave the mom behind, the kids may need some reassurance that mom will be fine.
Kids are going to care what happens, regardless of what happens. Their parents and, if possible, their parents’ families should work with the kids on understanding their own feelings and being able to express them to the adults in charge of where they go for the holiday. A single father need not give in to any of his children’s wish list, but he should be open to hearing them.
Perhaps the hardest part of the holidays for newly separated or divorced parents is dealing with their own feelings of loss, regret, anger and bitterness. It’s hard to give up well-loved traditions, and it can be hard to deal with the stress of a family gathering, the stress of the divorce and the stress of making sure the kids are OK. Bus as much as these families have in common, each situation is unique.
So, over the holidays, newly single parents should constantly remind themselves that what they and their exes do should be in the best interests of the child. And remind themselves, too, that the holidays will be over in a month, and life will soon settle down into its new normal.
Source: Sun Sentinel, “Newly divorced angst over holiday plans,” Marci Shatzman, Nov. 7, 2012
Our firm works with couples on child custody and visitation issues like the ones discussed here. You can learn more about our Libertyville, Illinois, practice by visiting the child custody page of our website.