The first holiday season after you and your partner
divorce can be a tricky one to manage, with hurt feelings and
tension clouding the spirit of the season. Christina McGhee, author
of Parenting Apart: How Separated and Divorced Parents can Raise
Happy and Secure Kids, offers these tips for easing into a new kind
Keep your emotions in check. "Over the
holiday season, kids take their cues from their parents," McGhee
says. That means that if you're overly sensitive, your children
will be, too. Pay attention to your feelings and create a support
plan for those times when you need it.
Silence isn't always golden. "You need to
talk with your kids about what the holiday is going to look like,"
McGhee says. You may think you're doing them a favor by glossing
over the details and avoiding a painful subject, but the unknown
actually makes kids more anxious since they don't know what to
expect. "It's really important that you talk to them about what's
going to be different and what might stay the same," she says. "No
matter how fantastic of a parent you are, you can't take all of
that hurt and pain away. So use it as an opportunity to help your
kids learn how to deal with change in a positive way."
Different doesn't have to be devastating.
"Sometimes that philosophy of out with the old isn't so bad," she
says. "Connect with kids by establishing new traditions and
rituals." That may mean that from now on you go bowling on
Christmas day or you spend the whole day in your pajamas-get
creative to find what works for you.
Help out with gifts. You may feel like
you no longer have an obligation to buy your ex-spouse a holiday
gift, but you do have an obligation to help your children do so.
Kids can feel embarrassed or uncomfortable showing up to the other
parent's house without a present, so make sure to help them out.
"You're not doing it for your ex, you're doing it for your kids,"
McGhee says. "Even if it's not reciprocated, take the high
Give gifts without strings. When parents
give gifts, they often expect the new item will live at their
house. Instead, you should let your child choose where he wants to
keep his new toy. "If you're not comfortable giving your child a
gift that goes to the other house, then don't give it," she
See more of Laura's stories here.
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