Divorce is never easy. Ask anyone who has been through the experience, or a divorce attorney, and they’ll tell you how much stress this situation can place on everyone involved. While some couples create a cleaner separation than others, there’s often the issue of the children to deal with either way.
You can find plenty of articles on the internet about how to help children cope with divorce, but few detail some of the harder times ahead. One of the biggest challenges parents face is the first holidays following the separation. Here are a few tips to help your children enjoy the holidays after a divorce.
It’s never wise to focus on the sadness of split holidays or make your child feel as though they are responsible for the new schedule. Phrases like “I’ll miss you this Christmas” or “Thanksgiving won’t be the same without you” place the burden of the new schedule on the child, even if they are well-intentioned.
Instead, don’t focus on it at all. The best thing you can do, even if it hurts, is act as though this new holiday schedule is completely normal and that you aren’t affected at all. This allows your children to focus on enjoying themselves for that day instead of whether or not a parent is upset.
Set a few ground rules for a stress-free holiday. The first should be that no one will utter a single negative comment about the other parent, friends and family included. Second, make sure your child can talk about experiences with the other parent without any disapproval or criticism.
That means no negative facial expressions, no interrogations, and no negative comments (which leads back to rule #1). Finally, set a rule for yourself that any exchanges of your children between you and the other parent are positive. This includes:
- Saying both parents “agreed” to change dates if one has to make a schedule change
- If you cannot make it, let your child know you have an adult obligation and choose a different exchanger
- Keep all conversation pleasant, complete with smiles
- Act as though you and the other parent are still friends, but stay focused on the child
When Your Plan Doesn’t Work
For your child to enjoy the holidays, it’s vital that you remain conscious of their feelings and viewpoint from their age. Otherwise, you’ll end up causing undue stress for them whether you immediately realize it or not.
Of course, just because you’re following the plan doesn’t mean the other parent will. If there’s ill will, a bad environment, or other circumstances causing stress or sadness for your child, then it’s vital to speak with legal representation about the custody agreement.
You can choose to speak with the lawyer used during your divorce, hire a new team like these divorce lawyers at Stange Law Firm, or find a child custody expert to help resolve the issue. Sometimes, even simple mediation will do just fine. In the end, it’s all about the happiness of your child.