If you are recently divorced and are concerned about how you and your children are going to spend the holidays this year, just know you aren’t alone. The fact is, there are plenty of couples who are dealing with the same circumstances as you who aren’t sure how Christmas is going to play out or where Thanksgiving dinner is going to be held. And while you might find yourself worrying over the holidays as they draw nearer, there are a few things you can do to avoid confrontation as well as stressful situations so that you and your kids can enjoy the holidays together.
WebMD has compiled a list of ways you can approach the holidays so that it is a pleasant time for everyone. Below we share what some of these suggestions are.
- Try and avoid conflict at all costs. If you have developed a family tradition over the years for how you spend your Christmas mornings or New Year’s Eve, you don’t exactly have to throw that tradition away. In fact, if you and your ex are getting along or can contain your thoughts and feelings when around your children, then consider keeping that tradition alive. However, if “there is a risk of conflict,” clinical psychologist Edward Farber, PhD., suggests that “it is better for each parent to have a separate holiday celebration with the children” this way you keep your kids out of a potentially stressful situation.
Farber also suggests that if you are able to spend the holidays with your ex, refrain from consuming too much alcohol. Sometimes, drinking can cause us to say or do things we normally wouldn’t or act on emotions we have been hiding. Therefore, rather than turn a family gathering into an event to remember, and not a good one, it is best to stay away from the alcohol if you think you may wind up saying something you’ll later regret.
- Make plans in advance. Knowing how the holidays will be spent and who they will be spent with can help prevent misunderstandings. You should discuss with your ex who will have the kids for each of the upcoming holidays or if you will be spending it together so that you are both on the same page and there aren’t any surprises when the holiday actually arrives.
- Allow your children to have a say in the matter. Although there may be some restrictions as to how the holidays will be spent, it is important to let your children voice the desires they have so you can attempt to give them what they want. The reality is, divorces cause a major shift in family dynamics and these changes can be difficult for them to accept. However, there are still ways you can meet their demands. One example the source highlighted involved a child who asked their parents if they both could put a toy elf on display as this was a tradition they looked forward to. So, although they may be forced to celebrate Christmas under to separate roofs, at least his/her parents worked together to keep a tradition he enjoyed alive.
- Don’t be afraid to start new traditions. Change can be a scary thing for some families, but you shouldn’t be afraid to add a new tradition to list of those you have been following for years. One suggestion the source provided is to start volunteering at the homeless shelter or travel to see family and spend the holiday with them. Just because you and your ex no longer will be spending the holidays together doesn’t mean there aren’t new and exciting things you and your children can be doing this holiday season.