For children of divorce, all too often the holidays are not a time of happiness – they are filled with dread, turmoil and chaos. Divorced parents are forced to navigate a range of issues, but it is possible for parents to help reduce conflict and confusion to make the holidays enjoyable for everyone.
For divorced parents, it is important to keep in mind that everyone experiences stress around the holidays. For divorced families, sadness is also a common emotion around this time of year, as people naturally remember holidays gone by. Add to this the holiday letdown when the credit card bills and tight pants rear their ugly heads in January, and you have a real recipe for disappointment and sadness.
The single most telling factor in how smoothly the holidays will go for children is how well their parents have adjusted to their new lives and to their parenting plans. Having two family celebrations can be great fun for kids – if their parents handle it well. This includes having realistic expectations about how much time the child will spend with each parent, not trying to outdo each other with gifts, and not making the child decide where to spend the holidays – this will only make the child feel guilty.
The best approach is to clearly outline the day’s plans well ahead of time, including discussing and dividing the child’s wish list. Parents need to keep in mind that competing for a child’s love with material gifts only confuses and spoils them. Get more tips for a happy holiday by visiting Children, Divorce and the Holidays; How to Make the Best of a Stressful Time.
Divorced parents should determine where the children will celebrate each holiday, in writing, with the assistance of a divorce lawyer. If you are negotiating a parenting plan, please contact our firm for expert legal counsel.