Celebrating the Holidays after Divorce

It may only be September, but the holidays are quickly approaching. Finding ways to adjust to life after divorce is difficult, but even more so for those with children who are facing the first holiday season after a divorce.

We must keep in mind that our children are also going through a period of adjustment. Recognizing their problems and learning how to deal with them can help make the holidays a great time.

Family celebrating Halloween after a divorce
Recognizing the signs of trouble

We may call it tradition or custom, but routine to a child is their security. Very little disturbs the routine of children more than mom and dad getting a divorce. This is particularly troublesome at holiday time.

Some signs we can look for in our children to tell us something may be wrong include:

• Anger: Changes associated with a divorce may cause children to lash out at the adults who caused this change in their lives.
• Blaming themselves: In the world of a child, a parent is sad because of something the child must have done. Taken to the next level, if mommy and daddy get divorced, the child takes on the blame.
• Stress and anxiety: We get divorced and ask our children to split time between mom’s home in Santa Ana and dad in another city. We change the routine they have known for probably their entire lives, and we then wonder why they are filled with stress and anxiety over the approaching holiday season.

Involve the children in creating new traditions

Once we recognize that our children are as affected by divorce as we are, the next step is to get them involved in our holiday plans. Some people are lucky, and their holiday customs after a divorce are basically the same as they were before.

For those of us who must start new holiday traditions, take the time to talk to your children about them. Allow them to play a part in new holiday plans and encourage them to share ideas.
Father and daughter decorating Christmas Tree
Putting aside hurt feelings for the sake of the children

The most important thing we can do as parents is to refrain from using the holidays to one-up our former spouse. Parents should make an effort to coordinate gift-giving to avoid turning the holidays into a competition for the children’s affections.

Have you and your ex-spouse found ways to make the holidays enjoyable for your children? What techniques worked for you? Please share it with us.