Few events challenge divorced parents like Christmas. Wrapped in tradition and expectation, Christmas embodies family connection and joy. Two elements seriously diminished through divorce.
But, take heart. Christmas can still be good for your children. Even from two houses.
The key–parents must put their own heart desires on the back burner. And their children’s on the front.
Put children first
Of course both parents want the magical moments of Christmas. No one wants to miss the Santa moment. Or, the Christmas choir performance. Or, putting out cookies on Christmas eve. Many parents go to war to preserve their spot in these moments.
Ruining Christmas in process.
Children want peace. Children want security. Children want to relax and simply enjoy the holiday.
They already cope with living in different houses. Losing of the foundation of their family. Adjusting to different patterns. They dread adding fights. Tugs of war. Moments they have to defend one parent to another.
Whatever it takes–create a holiday where children’s moments with each parent are relaxed, engaging, and protected. When parents do this, despite the cost to their own desires, they give the best gift of the season.
Keep traditions that matter
Because so much changes after divorce, children often crave traditions more. When possible, protect these.
If baking cookies for neighbors has marked past Christmases–keep that going. Attend the Christmas display at the museum. Invite friends for the annual gingerbread house party.
The familiarity persuades children that life really does go on after divorce. Good moments still exist.
Preserving these traditions often proves difficult for parents struggling with adjustments to single parenting, new jobs, or setting up households. So, when possible, scale back. Keep the core of the tradition but relax where possible.
Make 2 kinds of cookie, instead of 7. Go to museums with a friend to help keep track of kids. Buy prepared gingerbread houses instead of baking the pieces. Make the tradition fit energy levels and time constraints.
As parents preserve these traditions for their children, they also reconnect to the good parts of the past sparking hope for the future.
Transition to new traditions
Sometimes the old traditions just don’t work. When so, let them go. Make new ones.
In one family, Dad always made Chex Mix as the rest of the family decorated the tree. Once he left, Mom tried to keep the tradition going. Children pulled out ornaments as she baked the treat.
It just didn’t work.
Dad had his own spicing regimen, his own added ingredients, and his own baking times. Hers just wasn’t the same.
More–the mix represented Dad in a moment when Dad was gone.
Sometimes old traditions don’t work in the new life. Let those go.
Instead, build new traditions. Another Dad recognized the importance of Christmas morning to his former wife. He knew fighting for every other year would prove devastating to her. And, therefore, to the kids.
So, he opted for a new tradition. He asked for the days surrounding New Year’s. He then took his children skiing in Colorado each year. They arrived at the lodge to a decorated Christmas tree with presents lying under.
New place. New time. Their own Christmas tradition.
When the old no longer works, try something new. Something that brings definition and joy into the new family structure.
Christmas brings families together. Even after divorce. It just takes parents putting the children first. Protecting what they can from the past–and bringing in the new.
If you would like more information on how to protect your family–even in divorce–call 317-344-9740 or email info@TheResolutionCenterIndy.com. We are here to serve you.