There is a certain magic and wonder about Christmas that no child should be robbed of. How you deal with your separation and divorce during the holiday will have a lot to do with how much magic and wonder your child experiences during the holiday season. Your actions will help keep the holiday spirit alive and your children happy.
The holidays will be more enjoyable if you emphasize the positive and let go of the negative. In other words, at Christmas time focus on decorations, celebrations, cookie baking and gift giving. If you are having a hard time with the fact that your family is no longer celebrating as a unit, together in one place, your children should be the last to know. Below are a few tips that will help you keep your children in high spirits during the holiday.
Don’t Bring Up Divorce:
I heard a friend say to her children, “this is our first Christmas as a broken family.” Ouch! She spent the holidays angry with her ex husband because her children were not able to enjoy their Christmas. There was no getting her to understand that her children were following her lead and would only enjoy Christmas if she set a positive example. Don’t make the same mistake my friend did by allowing your negative feelings to intrude upon the enjoyment your children experience during Christmas… or any other time for that matter.
Make The Most Of What Time You Have With Your Children:
Both parents love a child. Both want to be with that child as much as possible. Especially during the holiday season. If you are divorced, it isn’t possible to share every moment of the holiday with your child. That doesn’t mean you can’t make the most out of the time you do have with your child.
If you are the non-custodial parent, start building new traditions with your child in your home. Make the holiday about the time you are able to spend with your child. Not about the time you are not able to spend with your child. I know a father who never put up a tree, never took his children Christmas shopping and never took advantage of the extra days he could spend with his children during the holiday season. That father now wonders why his children are so distant. They are distant because he spent the time he had with them focused on anger he had toward their mother.
As a parent, you have a choice. Christmas can be a time of celebration shared with your children or it can be a time of navel gazing and pity parties. It is up to you what memories you build with your children. Building positive memories means building strong relationships, at Christmas and all year around.
Involve Your Children In Decision Making:
When parents divorce, children feel a lack of control. They have no voice in whether or not their family stays together. During Christmas and on other special occasions giving your children some control over how they spend their time lessens the stress of feeling out of control.
This can be especially important for older children. They may be scheduled to spend time with the non-custodial parent when they would rather be hanging out with friends. Give your child the option of bringing a friend along or planning activities with friends during their time with you. Take advantage of holiday visitation but allow your child to have an active role in planning any activities you will be doing together.
Love Your Child First:
When George Strait sang, “If it werent for my two kids, I'd hate my ex-wife,” he knew what he was singing about. You may not be able to manage it at other times but during the holidays, you need to love your children more than you hate your ex-spouse. The holidays aren’t about getting even with your ex, they are about finding joy and being together for the sake of your children. Be an adult and put the needs and desires of your children above your needs and desires and you and your children will have a Christmas that will be filled with seasonal spirit and love..