The first Christmas after divorce and separation is hard on everyone. What will this new life look like over the holidays? It definitely won’t be the same, but different can be okay! Even though divorce comes with loss, it also makes you more aware of just how important your kiddos are and makes you appreciate them all the more! Be patient, be flexible, be supportive and everyone can have a joyous holiday!
Give Your Children the Gift of PEACE
Children of all ages hate when their parents fight!
Between the ages of 0-4 the extra stress makes them physically upset. Children at this age mimic their parents’ emotions so to see you sad or mad (and don’t think you are hiding it ) makes your child experience the same emotion. They don’t understand why they feel that way and they don’t have any control over the emotion – they are completely dependent on you to change their mood.
Children between 5-10 almost always blame themselves when their parents fight. They can’t understand how much goes on in the world without them – they only see the world where they are involved. No matter how many times you say, “it’s not your fault,” they still think it’s their fault.
Teenagers are more likely to take sides when their parents fight – seeing one parent as ‘right’ and the other parent as ‘wrong’. They will want to defend the parent who is sad and may act out at the parent they see as causing problems. While teenagers can be savvy and empathetic, they have no way of knowing what an adult relationship is actually like so they can never fully understand what either parent is going through.
For Christmas this year – give your child the gift of PEACE. Let them enjoy the holiday without any stress of parental conflict. Let them think only about Christmas programs, Santa, holiday lights and making cookies – NOT worrying about if Mom or Dad is going to be mad. Kids want to think about what Santa is going to bring them – not if their parents are going to fight over gifts. Kids want to be everywhere with everyone but things get ruined if mom and dad start fighting about seeing Grandma. Going to a Christmas parade is a lot of fun but not if harsh words are exchanged between you and your Ex and your child ends up feeling guilty. Put your kids in a big bubble where they don’t hear anything negative about their other parent. Let them say what they want to say and to talk about their Christmas at the other parent’s without seeing you get angry or sad.
Easier said then done!!! When the stress of the holidays gets to be too much for you, repeat a phrase that helps you focus and stay calm. Find something that works for you!
- “Christmas is a time of love and joy.”
- “After all I’ve been through with the divorce, I love these kids so much.”
- “I am so glad I am raising a happy, healthy little human.”
This is hard on you too!!!! Text Your Ex can help you avoid the stress of communicating with your Ex by wrapping YOU in a holiday bubble! Text Your Ex lets you talk to a third party mediator who then negotiates on your behalf. We make sure you don’t get any rude messages and help all conversations stay focused on what’s best for the KIDS! We can brainstorm solutions and help come up with mutual agreements.
Give Your Children the Gift of LOVE
Make sure your kids see everyone they usually do during the Christmas season. Do a ‘human advent calendar’ where every day you think about a different friend or family member that is important to your children. Make sure you include EVERYONE in your child’s life (no matter whose ‘side’ they are on). Write the person a Christmas card, give them a call, draw them a picture or make them a small gift, tell a favorite story about them and reach out to them for actual human contact.
Kids need to know that divorce does not mean they will lose people from their lives. Even though their parents may not still live in the same house, kids need to know both parents still love them and ALL of their family is still their family. Not every adult is a good influence on your child during divorce, it’s unfortunate but true, but that doesn’t mean kids still can’t feel loved by those people. You can limit interaction and still initiate a phone call, write a letter, tell funny stories, and let your child feel a connection. More than any time of the year, during Christmas, children need the security of feeling loved.
For Christmas this year – give your child the gift of LOVE. Not your love, because it goes without saying you give your children love everyday, but the love of others, love for others. The gift that tells children they are special and loved by a whole community of people and that everyone who loves them has value (even if they are not your favorite person.)
Give Your Children the Gift of HOPE
For the first couple of years after separation and divorce, kids still don’t know exactly what to expect. Life changes so much for parents and children during this time: routines are frequently changed, relationships can change, and kids see their parents change. This year, give them the gift of HOPE. Let them know that these changes can be happy ones and life is going to be happy again.
Create new traditions. Make the traditions that you do with your kids special to you guys. Find ways to take old traditions and make them just a little bit different so they reflect your new life. Don’t fuss at your kids if they say, “that’s not how we used to do it” still make the cookies, decorate a tree, go see lights and Santa, but be prepared to make these traditions special in a different way. Add in something just a little ‘extra’ so your kids know that everything is moving forward, and they can appreciate the past and the present. By doing the same traditions but in a slightly different way you can honor their memories while still building a new and happy future.
Be upbeat. Christmas is overwhelming – kids will be tired, overstimulated and emotional. When problems switching homes occur, when they have to miss out on something with Dad because they already have plans with Mom, don’t let them see it as a reason to be sad – emphasize the positive. Even though it may crush you to see them leave on Christmas Eve, give them that gift of Hope: smile big and say, “I know you are going to have SO MUCH FUN at Dad’s house!!! I can’t wait to hear all about it!” Of course your first instinct is to let them know that you love them and will miss them but for now, don’t let them see you sad. Make the transition as easy as you possibly can for them and be as patient as you can. Remember – the acting out may not have anything to do with where they are going or what they are doing, divorce is just stressful and tough. Give them hope that they will get through this and be happy!
Gift Yourself the Same Presents!
Take care of yourself during the holiday season! All of the extra to-do’s and stress can quickly spiral out of control. Remember – nothing has to be ‘Perfect’ just make it ‘Good Enough’. Kids don’t remember how clean the house was or the number of gifts they got. They don’t remember details of their surroundings like adults, they just remember that they felt loved, safe, and secure. Kids remember the people they were with and if those people were happy or sad.
Pick a couple of your main goals for the holidays – what are the two things you would really like to do with your kids this year? Bake cookies? Look at light? Play a board or card game? Watch a favorite holiday movie or read a favorite book? Make time to accomplish those two items and then let the rest go. Let your time and attention be focused on being with your children rather than trying to make things ‘perfect’ for them.
AND RELAX! You’ll be a better parent, a nicer Ex, and a happier elf if you take some time for yourself to relax! Give yourself Peace, Love and Hope this Christmas!