Posted by: coachingparents | December 12, 2007

Divorced Parents Sharing Children at Christmas


The Holidays bring some of the hardest times for divorced parents.   Why?  And how can you avoid being sucked into the trap of holidays being one huge series of stress events? 

There is so much stress around the holidays in the first place it is easy to have things escalate in divorced families.  In this article you will learn about eight of the most common problems that occur with holidays and parents who are divorced.  And best of all you will learn some tactics to help you stay away from these negative stress-inducing patterns.

These eight situations are not in an order.  Each one alone can be as bad as any other and in combination they can stack up to cause the holidays to be simply awful for your children

  • Counting the hours that the children stay in each house may seem to be an equitable way of sharing the holidays.  But then there is no respect for what is happening in either house, what is important to the children, and what is important to you as the parent.  Rather than have exact hours set up, try to establish what events, traditions are important and then work around those.  If your ex will not share with you what is important, still share what is important to you.   And share these things with your children.
  • In our materialistic culture it is pretty common for people to try and out do each other and divorced parents are no exception.  When you are purchasing gifts or thinking of special activities to do ABSOLUTELY only think about what would be fun, age appropriate, and of value to your children.  There is no need to try and have a “better” or “more” holiday.  Remember the old sayings, “Less is sometimes more.” And “Great things come in small packages.”
  • Along this line is the desire to undermine each other.  Stay away from this.  No matter how much you think your ex is doing this to you remember the golden rule.  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  When you let yourself get sucked into the undermining game you will without fail be the looser.  And there will be no winner if both of you undermine each other.  Beyond that your children will loose respect for you.  So just stay out of the undermining game.
  • You may be so depressed with the loss of the family that you just mope through everything.  Well let me tell you, there is nothing worse than being around a mope on the holidays.  I know it is really hard to let them go.  And your heart just aches at the thought. But please remember that you do have your children for some time and relish the time they are with you.  Reserve your moping for when they are gone if you just can’t get away from the pain in your heart.
  • When the children are with you remember that the other parent may be as miserable as you are happy and content.  Allow and encourage them to call their other parent, your children will want to share the special things that are going on.  You do not have to let them call all the time. But you want to have them feel that both parents are a part of their lives.  I know this is hard.  But it in the end your children will have the opportunity to be whole rather than feeling they have to split themselves up. This is not just with you, but also in all their relationships.
  • I know that when you buy a gift for your children you want to see them play with it.  Adults often have some vicarious pleasure form seeing children enjoy their gifts.  When a child has two homes you can say there are a few gifts you think are special to this house, but the others can go back and forth.  This way the gifts are really for the child and not for you.  I know you want to see your child play with the gift.  But the best thing is to have the child love the gift, wherever they are.
  • Holidays are about meals.  And children do love to eat these great meals.  But you need to allow your child to eat at one house and if you are the second house assume your child was not mature enough to save room for anything yummy with you.  You can have some special meal of leftovers the next day. 
  • When you are developing your new patterns for holidays remember you had to create whatever pattern your family had before the divorce.  So you can create something new.  It will not be the same.  It will not be worse.  It will be different.  And it can be more enjoyable.
  • You can create completely new traditions; you can decide to have the holiday on different days.  People have made up all holidays in the first place.  So make the holidays right for you.  You can add a celebration.  For instance we celebrate Little Christmas, The Epiphany, or Three Kings Day, all names for January 6.  This way whatever anyone is doing on Dec 25 there is always the opportunity to have the family gathered, have a special meal, open presents, and sing songs.  You can be creative and have some special times that you ex doesn’t care about.

With an understanding of these eight most common mistakes divorced parents make you will have an advantage to give your children the gift of loving and cherished holidays.

All this week, GEM Parenting will focus on the subject of divorce and Christmas!  Feel free to join us and add comments on your ways to make Christmas easier!

FREE 8 PODCAST SERIES: In this FREE Audio Parenting Series, you’ll learn the tested methods and strategies that produce the behavior your heart desires from your children.

Grace E. Mauzy, MA works with overwhelmed, stressed parents having difficulty comfortably coping with divorce. Parents learn positive intervention utilizing strategies and tactics to develop strength and harmony during the divorce process. To learn more about her powerful speaking, coaching, and workshops, or to receive Grace’s motivating course “Seven Steps To Deal Powerfully With Divorce”.

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