Separated parents have a tendency to feel guilty that because they couldn’t work things out with their former partners, their children must now shuffle back and forth between two homes. Especially during the holidays, this guilt seems to kick into overdrive for some, along with regret that certain traditions will no longer continue. But let’s think about– would they be better off in a house full of tension or devoid of love? And is shuttling between two homes really that bad compared to the alternative of only having one primary parent and limited visits with the other when they have two equally loving and fit parents?
Instead of focusing on what you cannot provide, let’s focus on what you can give them. And in the process, try these 4 tips that have helped me manage co-parenting in separate homes for over a decade:
1. Chin Up
It is hard for parents to not see their kids every night, or on every holiday– and I am actually saying that from personal experience, but if you can put your child’s needs before your own, then you can appreciate that for your children it is important that you don’t make them feel bad when they go spend time with the other parent and extended family. So, just make sure you have your own plans, and encourage the kids to have fun wherever it is they will be spending the holidays.
2. Get Your Ex a Gift
Now, I know it may not be easy, but it would also be great if you could help the kids find gifts for your former spouse and any new children that may now be part of the family. Believe me, it may not be easy the first time, especially knowing your efforts won’t be reciprocated, but once you see how much it means to your child and you know that you are teaching them a good life skill, it actually leaves you feeling quite at peace that you can put the past behind you and gracefully accept the present state.
3. Remember the Good
You may have moments of nostalgia, but don’t let your trip down memory lane turn sour. Stop negative thoughts from ruining your holiday spirit– the last thing you want to come across as is the Scrooge or Mr. Grinch! Try to over-ride bad memories with good ones, and in the end remember that the holiday season is a time to be thankful for what we do have– especially in this year with a worldwide pandemic.
While being safe and socially distancing, try to surround yourself with family and friends (even if just virtually) and show your kids that despite your divorce, life does go on. Your best gift to your children is to demonstrate that despite major disappointments or setbacks, we can continue to celebrate that which matters most– a life full of grace and love.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.