Holidays after divorce can be difficult, stressful and challenging for parents and children to face. Holidays may bring some old memories that can make everyone feel hurt, sad, angry or disappointed.

Holidays after divorce can be difficult, stressful and challenging for parents and children to face. Holidays may bring some old memories that can make everyone feel hurt, sad, angry or disappointed.

When parents divorce, everyone in the family needs to make adjustments at holidays.

Whether children will adjust well or not to the holiday visitation schedule depends on how well their parents adjust to their new roles. In order to make the best of holiday seasons for their children and themselves, both parents need to plan ahead to avoid scheduling conflicts, arguments or misunderstandings.

The following suggestions can help establish lasting memories for your children and yourself:

Make detailed plans to avoid confusion and help both parents and children know what to expect. Make sure your children know where they will be spending the holiday. If changes need to be made, discuss with the other parent early.
  Create holiday traditions with your children. If children are not with you for a holiday, find positive ways to enjoy the holiday for yourself.

 

Avoid using holidays to compete with the other parent. Focus on your children’s needs and set realistic expectations.

 

Teach your children the meaning of holidays and giving and sharing. Buying expensive gifts is not a way to get your children’s love. The best gifts children need from parents are time, attention, unconditional love, and emotional presence.

 

Communicate with the other parent openly. Work with him or her to decide who will take the children on which holiday well in advance. If you have more than two children, don’t split them up. Let them be together, which can help them feel secure and connected.

 

Be aware of your children’s feelings and encourage them to express and talk about their feelings.

 

Take care of yourself emotionally and physically. You need to develop a good support system and put your past behind to be able to have joyful and fulfilling holidays.


 

Nina Chen is a Human Development Specialist with MU Extension. For more information, contact her at 816-252-5051 or chenn@missouri.edu.