Divorced parents face many challenges during the holiday season. Whether you are actively going through divorce or separation or the proceedings have already finished, you will unfortunately be unable to enjoy all of the holiday traditions you established during your marriage.
Exploring the pros and cons
After your divorce, you might not end up with the family holiday decorations — should you buy new ones or ask your ex-spouse to share? Deciding who gets to have the children on which days can be an incredibly difficult issue to agree on. You and your ex-spouse may also need to decide which of gets to attend a mutual friend’s New Year’s Eve party, or if you both will be able to go and remain civil.
On the more positive side, you can let go of some of the traditions and family gatherings that may have brought you stress before. Setting a new course during the holidays gives you the opportunity to replace old traditions with new ones, creating new memories for you and your children.
Lean into your support systems
While this time may represent a welcome change and a new beginning for some parents, many others experience grief or sadness during the holiday season. If that’s the case for you, continuing to practice whichever traditions you can may help ease the transition. Here are some ideas for how to enjoy the holidays this season and create new traditions:
- Send out holiday cards with an updated family photo and your new address.
- Decorate your home with a fresh look according to your preferences.
- If you practice religion, attend community services and holiday gatherings.
- Reach out to extended family and friends for company.
- If you need some alone time, take it.
- Consider making a trip to visit loved ones you do not normally see during the holidays.
How to be there for your children
Keep in mind how these changes will affect your children during the holiday season. Try to preserve some traditions and maybe talk to them about creating new ones together. If your kids will be spending time with your ex-spouse during the holidays, make sure to follow all of the guidelines outlined in your parenting plan. If your parenting plan does not address the holiday season, reach out to your ex-spouse in advance to avoid conflict by ensuring you are both on the same page.
Consider having a conversation with your kids as soon as possible about how the holidays will be different this year. They may have trouble letting go of old traditions and accepting that both parents will not be present at every gathering. If possible, having both parents present and in agreement during this conversation can help set children’s minds at ease and ensure that family remains at the center of your celebrations this holiday season.