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Divorce and the Holidays

For families that were once whole and now living in separate houses, due to divorce or separation, the holiday season can bring forth varied emotions from grief to extreme happiness. Parents are sometimes so happy to start their new life that they forget that the children may be grieving there old one for at least a few years. It is important for both parents to take the children’s feelings into consideration when making holiday plans and exclaiming relief/sadness in front of the children. The parents must also be keenly aware of the children’s mood or behavior to look out for signs of anxiety or depression. During the holidays, children can experience a heightened feeling of loss or grief for the intact family they once had. Try to maintain an open dialogue with your children and keep holiday traditions to provide a sense of consistency and support.

Often times during the holidays, step-parents or significant others are merged into family holidays. The step-parent must be flexible and understanding during this time as the holidays are a reminder of how the children’s family has forever changed. When incorporating the step-parent/significant other, do not make too many changes to holiday traditions. At least in the beginning, try to at least maintain most of the children’s holiday traditions but incorporate a few new holiday activities traditionally celebrated by the step-parent. This way neither side is being neglected, the step-parent is being included, but she/he remains the understanding adult who is not imposing a drastic change on the children.

In general, make sure all adults involved are understanding, start new traditions while maintaining old ones, and have a happy holiday!