Christmas is all about being with the ones we love: being with family – but what does that mean for kids of divorce? What does ‘family’ mean when mom and dad aren’t both in the house on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? What does it mean when you have to switch houses and leave toys behind, the traditions you used to know can’t happen, and mom and dad seem angry and sad?
Let’s face it – this is something kids of divorce encounter, and not just on the holidays. It’s hard and there’s nothing magic that will make it perfect. (NOBODY’S life is perfect!) Christmas is a wonderful time for children and the joy of the season will help them make happy memories through the adjustments of divorce. You can help!
“Christmas is all about love, family and children. it doesn’t matter what we eat or what presents we get as long as the holidays are spent with loved ones. happy happy happy Christmas.“– Anonymous
Family Means Core Relationships Survive Divorce
Christmas is a time when you can reinforce to your children that family survives divorce. Kids of all ages get a lot of security knowing that their family will always be there for them and they’ll always have a place to call home. Now more than ever, it’s important to respect the other parent and recognize that the kids need to be with both parents over the holidays. Even if they have a preference on where to spend the holidays, they need to know Christmas is about people (not things), bonds of love, and sharing time. These are qualities that are valuable for everyone to have and will especially help them as they transition to two homes.
Family Means Mom and Dad Still Work Together
Nothing is more disappointing for a child then to open a present and it’s something they got the night before. You may think that “it’s not any of my Ex’s business what I get the kids” but try to coordinate! Try not to get duplicate gifts because it will make your kids realize that divorce does impact their Christmas. Christmas is a time of happiness and joy but also stress – including for your kids! Children are tired and overstimulated so they are also emotional. Getting a gift they don’t like is less disappointing then getting the same gift because the same gift wouldn’t have happened if the family was still together.
You don’t have to go into details with your Ex, just assign ‘categories’. One person gets ‘outdoor toys’, the other person may get ‘electronics’; ‘coats’ vs ‘sweaters’; ‘dolls’ vs ‘doll clothes/house’; ‘board games’.
Shopping is stressful, spending money is stressful, don’t let communicating with your Ex be stressful! If you dread talking to your Ex and know this is going to start a fight, let US Text Your Ex! We will communicate for you with prices starting as low as $35.00.
Family Means You Grow Together and Find New Traditions
How many times have you heard your kids say, “That’s not how Mom does it!” “That’s not the way Dad says you’re supposed to do it!” Don’t compete with your Ex! Some family traditions are associated with one parent. It’s better not to try to replicate that tradition, but instead, start something slightly new. Make a small change that re-directs your kids and shows that there is a slight difference between your two homes with neither being better or worse – just different.
If putting a star on top of the tree is a favorite tradition, get a star that is bright blue or bright red so the kids can distinguish the tradition between homes. Does everyone look forward to Christmas morning breakfast? Instead of making the exact same meal your spouse used to make, create a new menu – if it used to be pancakes, now make it cinnamon rolls. If it used to be eggs, start cooking french toast casserole! (It’s easy, I promise!) Hopefully the kids can be involved in how what new ‘updates’ they think would make the tradition even better than before!
Don’t be locked into giving your children the exact same Christmas that they’ve always had. Show them that this big change of divorce means growth together; that even though some things change – they aren’t better or worse, they are just different. A star is important to have on the tree, but it doesn’t matter what color it is. Flexibility is a great quality to give your kids. Teach them that they can have the same traditions but with a little twist so they can remember how it was at Mom’s house and how it was at Dad’s house. This also helps them understand that the future isn’t unknown and scary, that you are bringing good qualities from the past and creating new memories in the present. This gives them security and hope.
Family Means Seeing Extended Family Too!
Try hard to allow the kids to participate in extended family gatherings like always. Especially when young, seeing other family can often be a big part of Christmas. If everyone gathers at Grandma’s house at a certain time, try to allow that to continue. It’s hard to get some place late and feel like you missed out on everything. It’s hard to feel like when you walk in late, everyone is thinking it is because your parents got divorced. If it’s impossible to get extended family to re-schedule, see if there is a way to alter your parenting plan – (Text Your Ex is GREAT at brainstorming solutions!) – especially the first couple of years after separation.
“Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends.”-Margaret Thatcher
Children of divorce need to be reassured that they are still part of this bigger family; to them, their whole world has been turned upside down, they fear the worst, and they struggle to find their place. The feeling of belonging is a tradition that should not be forgotten. And remember – it’s always better to leave early, then get to the gathering late! Your kids may need some one-on-one time with family they haven’t seen since your separation.
Family Means LOVE!
For you and your Ex, Love may not be part of the equation anymore. Your kids see that and deep inside, they know mom and dad stopped loving each other. Especially at Christmas, make sure your kids understand that the loss of love does not apply to them! Don’t roll your eyes, don’t sigh, don’t fight with your Ex- don’t behave in any way that makes the kids feel bad about loving their other parent!
Do make excuses for a less-then-perfect parent; do give your Ex an extra present they can give the kids, and a present the kids can give to your Ex; do help your Ex where they struggle and be flexible in the schedule. More than anything, for kids at Christmas, family should mean what it has always meant: two parents who love them and want to spend time with them!
“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”-Bob Hope
If it causes YOU stress to deal with your Ex in a positive way, that’s OKAY! Holidays for divorced parents are also really hard! You are going to have to start new traditions and you will have to be without your children at some point – that is tough!!! You should use any help you can find to make this holiday a better one. Text Your Ex will take care of all of the communication with your Ex for you. With Text Your Ex, you’ll have a friend on your side to deal with your Ex. We protect you from the stress and solve your co-parenting problems for you conflict-free.