Divorced 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?
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 over the last 17 years, 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. Embrace this opportunity to start some new traditions and make sure you have your own plans while you encourage the kids to have fun wherever it is they will be spending the holidays.
2. Get Your Ex a Gift
Until your child is old enough to have their own part-time job, most of them will need your help getting the other parent a holiday present. Now, I know it may not be easy to help the kids find gifts for your former spouse, especially knowing your efforts may not 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– and let’s face it, you would not have your kids without your ex.
4. Choose Love
Surround yourself with family and friends, and show your kids that despite your divorce, life does go on. If you want your kids to be resilient, your best gift to them is modeling that despite mistakes, major disappointments or financial setbacks, we can move forward embracing new opportunities to celebrate that which matters most– a life full of grace and love.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.