Over 50% of marriages end in divorce, and nearly half of all children experience their parents separating before they turn 16. Handling the first holiday after divorce is one of the greatest challenges any newly divorced parent will face.
Follow these tips to create a safe, stress-free holiday for everyone.
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Act in Their Best Interest
The most important rule you need to remember: It’s no longer about you. The choices you’re making and the arrangements you’re proposing should always be in the best interest of your children.
Decide what’s best:
- Sharing the kids between holiday events.
- Choosing one home or the other where the kids can celebrate.
- Sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner with your co-parent and anyone new in their life.
Don’t forget to set up rules for your extended family. Talk to the grandparents and make sure they know what you and your ex have decided – and make sure they’re on board.
Create New Rituals
- Start Fresh: Build new traditions and rituals to create new memories instead of holding onto old hurts.
- Involve the children in the decision-making and make them an important part of the holiday. This will give them a sense of control and help with their stress.
Ease holiday paralysis by making plans ahead of time.
- Having the stability of knowing what’s coming will make things easier for you and your kids.
- Staying occupied will help everyone keep moving forward.
Be flexible and open to spontaneity. Plans can be altered.
Listen to Your Children
- Don’t panic and don’t minimize what your child is feeling. Let them talk. Listen.
- Never get into the blame game in front of your kids.
- Even if you no longer get along with your former partner, for your child, that’s still mom or dad.
Avoid the Guilt Trip
- Kids know when you’re trying to “buy”their affection.
- Lay off the expensive guilt gifts and focus on tending to your child’s emotional needs.
- Set up your boundaries – with your co-parent – and stick to them.
Don’t Compete, Cooperate
- If your holidays involve gift-giving, think twice about springing for a big ticket item without talking to your ex. This is no time to play “Who Loves You Most”.
- Call a truce! Many adult children of divorced parents say that if their parents are still bickering and fighting, they’d rather not spend the holidays with either of them.
Be Realistic and Accept Imperfections
- You won’t be perfect 100% of the time.
- Holidays are tough. At some point, you will feel overwhelmed and out of control. When that happens, take a deep breath, take some time and forgive yourself. Then let it go and keep moving forward.
This infographic has been brought to you by Total Divorce.