Divorce can be associated with feelings of loss, anger, resentment, guilt, shame, anxiety, loneliness and sense of abandonment – for both parents and children. Holidays can enhance those feelings when the usual holiday traditions are split between two households and time with the children is divided between co-parents in two separate homes. Remaining centered in your heart and compassionate mindful presence is the key to thriving over the holidays rather than merely surviving.
The Holidays After Divorce:
5 Things to Do:
1. Be sensitive to the fact that your children are looking forward to the holidays with you and also with your ex. Do not take it personally that children like to spend time with both parents. Create new or continue old holiday traditions to make your children feel good about the holidays.
2. Do coordinate big gifts with your ex. There is nothing like the letdown of both of you getting your child the same big gift. It is a letdown for both the parent and the child and is completely avoidable by communication between both parents.
3. Do send a card to your ex’s family if you are close to them. It is natural to still have feelings for them if you were close emotionally to them. However, do not say anything derisive or negative about your ex in the card.
4. Call a truce with your ex in the spirit of the holidays if you do not have mutually respectful relationship or still harbor animosity toward them. The holidays are a time to transform anger and to have goodwill to all men (and women)… even if that includes your ex.
5. Do take care of your self during the holidays- take time to de-stress in healthy ways (exercise, massage, good nutrition, refrain from over-indulging in food or alcohol). If the children are not with you over the holidays, then plan to do something that would be fun and nurturing rather than sitting at home and being miserable.
5 Things Not to Do:
1. Do not compete with your ex to out-do in gift-giving…. it only spoils the children and makes everyone feel uncomfortable (including the children).
2. Do not punish the children for having a good time with your ex or sharing stories of the good times they had at your ex’s home. Don’t you want your children to have good memories of their holidays? They have a good time with you too and are also sharing that with your ex. Your children need to feel happy and loved in both homes and not be made to feel guilty about it.
3. Do not send a mean card to either your ex or your ex’s family. If you can’t say something nice (especially during the holidays), then don’t send anything at all.
4. Do not tell your children how lonely you are when they are not with you over the holidays. It is NOT fair to make your children feel responsible for your feelings, thoughts or behaviors. We are very powerful in our choices, and we can either choose to be miserable or choose to be happy. After all, the adults were the ones who chose to get a divorce. The children just have to deal with the situation.
5. Do not over-extend your self over the holiday with attempts to be super-parent to outdo your ex (by volunteering in the school, with sports team, or community parties).
If you still find it hard to follow any or all of the above recommendations, then you should pick up a copy of our book “SHIFT: 12 Keys to Shift Your Life” to assist you in transforming your obstacles to getting back into your heart. Once you stop self-sabotaging through your anger, resentment, guilt, shame, fear of the unknown, sense of powerlessness & abandonment, you will be able to heal from disappointment or heartbreak and feel more joy in your life. Then you will be a powerful role model for your children as you choose to ‘stand in your Light’ rather than ‘dance in your shadows’.
Wishing you all a compassionate & stress-free holiday season!