The holidays tend to be an especially difficult time for families in the midst of a divorce. Concepts of peace, unity, and love are difficult to consider, and maybe even intangible. Yet it is that contrast that makes the effort to create a loving and nurturing holiday season so crucial. Some divorcing or recently divorced parents may find the following tips for surviving the holidays especially helpful.
Be Upfront and Positive about Holiday Visiting Plans
It can be heart-wrenching to know your child will not be with you during the holidays, but children will cope best if both parents are upfront and stay positive. Work out the arrangements with your ex, rather than your child, and then fill your child in on the details. Use careful consideration when choosing your words—focus on the positives, rather than the negatives (i.e. “You’ll open presents here with me, and then dad will be by to pick you up after lunch”). You might even find the use of a calendar effective for helping your child remember the arrangements.
Allow (and Even Encourage) Gift-Giving and Phone Calls
Despite how you may feel about your ex, your child still loves them. Acknowledge that love by allowing or even encouraging your child to purchase or make a gift for your ex. It is a small display of affection, but it can go a long way in helping your child with the feelings of sadness or anxiety they may be feeling with their parents in two separate households. If your child is missing their other parent late at night, or right before bedtime, you might even consider allowing your child to call the other parent and tell them goodnight. It could help to further soothe their anxiousness.
Set Up Boundaries with Extended Family
Though not everyone spends the holidays with extended family members, many others do. This can be an anxiety-laden situation for your child, so be firm with others when it comes to boundaries. Do not permit probing questions about your ex, and diffuse any negative discussions. Remember that, to your child, these negative words (even negative words meant to be supportive of you) can seem like a direct attack on a parent they still love very much.
Acknowledge Your Own Feelings
Parents who put their child’s emotional needs first sometimes fail to recognize their own. This can lead to depression, anxiety, or additional anger toward your ex, or even your child. Acknowledge your feelings—embrace them, if you can—by making time for yourself. If your child is away, spend time with friends and family that are supportive of you. Journal. Talk to a therapist. Whatever you do, do not ignore or attempt to avoid feelings that are not only normal, but expected.
Filing for Divorce? An Experienced Divorce Attorney can Help
Because the holidays are an extra sensitive time, couples may struggle more than usual to come up with a suitable parenting plan. They are also apt to argue more, making other aspects of the divorce difficult to handle. An experienced divorce attorney may be especially helpful while attempting to navigate the complex process.
The skilled Illinois divorce attorneys
at Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices can help. With more than 200 years of combined experience, we can advise and mediate through even the most difficult of cases, including those involving domestic violence. To find out how we can help, call 630-932-9100 today and schedule your free initial consultation.