The Holiday season is usually a difficult and stressful time for many families. Everyone trying to make plans and trying to see grandparents and other family members. It can be especially difficult for divorce families. After a divorce the issues often become even more stressful.
One thing that parents need to remember is that they decided on the divorce the children did not. I often hear arguments about parents want their time or wanting to continue their family’s holiday traditions. However, they often ignore what the children want to do.
Many times a divorce may be finalized, but the parents are not done fighting with each other. Therefore, the use Christmas as a reason to continue to argue or try to hurt each other. What they forget is they are really hurting their children more than each other.
Based on dealing with families who are divorced, I would make the following recommendations to parents. First, parents need to remember that Christmas is more about the children not them. Next they need to develop a plan together regarding the Holidays. The first step is for the parents to talk together about what the children seem to enjoy the most about Christmas. Also parents should also ask the children what they enjoy most about Christmas.
After you have this information then sit down civilly and see how you can allow the children to do what they enjoy most about Christmas. Another thing to remember is the children should not be forced to choose between Mom and Dad. Come up with a plan where the children have equal time with both parents. Also they should have equal time with grandparents, cousins and other Extended family from Mom and Dad’s side.
The other thing is don’t turn Christmas into a competition. Gifts should not be used to influence the children. You should discuss with each other what your children want and what you plan to get the children. When you were married you discussed what to get them so even after the divorce you can coparent and discuss what is realistic and what is not.
Finally, remember Christmas time is a time to get together as a family and enjoy each other. Therefore, for the sake of your children put your divorce aside and decide how this can be a happy family time for everyone. If you can do things together, that would be the ideal situation. If you can’t then being kind to each other and making the Holiday season fun for the children is the goal for you as parents. Stated another way, the children should still feel like they have one family at Christmas not two. Maybe things are being done a little differently because of the divorce but they still have a mother and father.
If you achieve this goal, it will make you feel better too. A divorce should not wreck your lives. Obviously, your lives will change after a divorce but you can still be a family.
Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years working with children/teenagers and families. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com