Holidays are stressful under the best of conditions. If you have finalized your divorce or have just started the process with a separation, then the holiday stress can be exponentially higher. If you have young children, you are now dealing with the issue of who is going to spend what holidays with whom.
A divorce is an emotional time and it could take a long time for those emotional scars to heal. If your divorce was highly adversarial, then there may not be any willingness to work with your ex-spouse to allow the holidays to be the fun family gatherings that they should be.
Make it about the children
When dealing with your ex-spouse in relation to the holidays, remember that Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas are all very exciting times for kids. They get to see family and friends they may not see on a regular basis. They get to play with cousins that might live far away and they get to open presents and run around laughing and screaming as kids do. Let the holidays be about the kids. Don’t use the children as a pawn in the chess match of your post-divorce issues with your ex.
A divorce is difficult on children. They are dealing with mommy and daddy no longer living in the same place. Often they are dealing with living in a new place and going to a new school. Their weekends are no longer what they used to be because both you and your spouse are sharing parenting time. These are issues that can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety in children. The holidays should be a time for fun. Whatever the issues are, short of serious issues with physical, emotional, or substance abuse, put the issues aside for the holiday season.
Kids are each other’s support
If you have multiple children, they may fight and argue about who is playing with the others toys, but when it comes to issues like divorce, your kids are there for each other. If you decide that the kids are going to be with you for Thanksgiving and your ex-wife or husband for Christmas, let the children all go together. After a divorce, the extended family may find it awkward and the divorce may come up in conversation. Even if they do not realize it, your kids provide emotional support and familiarity to each other. In most cases, it is better for them to be together then to be split up during the holidays.
Keep it positive
Not having your kids with you on Christmas may be one of the most emotionally difficult things you can imagine at the time. When it comes to saying good-bye to your kids as they go to your ex’s family, give them a big smile, a bigger hug and wish them the happiest time they can possibly have.
Make a schedule in advance
For the first holidays after a divorce, you might not have thought too much about the holiday schedule and things were done at the last minute. Plan your holidays in advance. This has several benefits. First, if you have it planned, it will be less stressful when the time times. You will have planned for it. If your kids are scheduled not to be with you on the Thursday of Thanksgiving, then you can plan to move your celebration to the weekend. This can free up so many people, including siblings who are married and have to figure out how to get to your family as well as their in-laws. This also gives your kids the opportunity to celebrate twice. Double Bonus! The same goes for Christmas with the exception of actually going to church on that day. However, dinner and presents can be done anytime! If you are Jewish, Hanukkah offers a built in solution being 8 days long. When it comes to a family gathering, there are many options.
The important thing to remember is that the holidays are about the kids. While going through a divorce they have gone through plenty of emotional times. Let them enjoy the holidays, and if you plan it out in advance you will be able to enjoy the holidays as well.
At the Law Offices of Anthony LoPresti, we wish all you an easy time through the upcoming holidays. If you have just starting the process of your divorce, call our offices to discuss issues such as custody and parenting time. We are here for you with a free consultation. Our office can be reached at 516-252-0223.