1. People & Relationships

Tips for Surviving Christmas as a Divorced Parent

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You have to admit, Christmas is a special and important time of the year. It is especially important if you are married and have children. Christmas as a divorced parent can be just as special if not more special if you put forth a little effort.

It’s all the memories attached to Christmas that make it the most trying time after a divorce. My first post-divorce Christmas was something I was dreading and found almost impossible to get through emotionally. Christmas as a divorced parent was new territory for me and I had no idea how to navigate my way through all the negative emotions. I had Children though and my feelings had to be put on the back burner. If not put on the back burner, at least dealt with in a way that did not interfere with my children’s enjoyment of the season.

Christmas for our family had always been about our immediate family. It was my husband, my children and I and we had built many family traditions through the years. I knew that if I were going to survive I had to do something different that first Christmas after the divorce. I had to do things that would distract our attention away from what we no longer had and build new traditions that were as joyful if not more joyful than the old ones. That is when I came up with my five-step plan of survival:

  1. Reach out to family and friends for support. Make them a part of your Christmas celebration. You’ve heard the old saying, “the more the merrier.” It’s true during the first post-divorce Christmas, the more people you are around the better your mood will be. People are a great distraction from the past and if you do have a down moment you will be surrounded by people who love you and can help pull you out of your funk.

  2. Make new family traditions. If there is a certain Christmas music that has been a family favorite, change it. If you drive around on Christmas Eve looking at all the lights and decorations, instead stay home and bake sugar cookies. The idea is to shake things up, do something different. Any past seasonal behaviors that were once wonderful but now dredge up negative emotions can be done away with and replaced by new and exciting activities.

  3. Guilt is a wasted emotion so don’t feel guilty over your children not having both parents to celebrate with. Heck, they will be having two Christmas celebrations, one with you and one with your ex-spouse. If they come to you and express sadness, don’t dismiss their feelings but do remind them that change can be a good thing and due to the changes from the divorce they will now have two Christmas celebrations to look forward to. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?

  4. Participate in some form of charity work or activity that means doing something for those less fortunate. You will be teaching your children a great lesson and nothing can make our own situation look better than being around those in a less fortunate situation.

  5. Work with your ex-spouse in a co-operative manner. Share with each other the details of what you are buying the children for Christmas and how you will be celebrating. Christmas really is all about the children and the more you and your ex can work together the more likely your children will enjoy their holiday.

The biggest gift you and your spouse can give your children at Christmas and any other time of the year is your survival. If you are able to take lemons and make lemonade it will mean that, no matter the season, your children will get what they need most. Two parents who are able to put their children's need for peace and contentment first. So, here is wishing you Peace on Earth at Christmas and every other day of the year.

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