18th Dec 2013
Going through a divorce is rough. Whether the marriage ended over irreconcilable differences or for amicable reasons the very first holiday season that you spend on your own can bring about feelings of anger, depression, sadness, and even guilt. The complication escalates when there are children involved. For many parents loving and supporting their child through the process of a divorce is the most difficult thing they’ve ever encountered. Add to that the first holiday season and the troubles can really weigh in heavy. While it can be hard to get through as an adult, it is the responsibility of the parent to help create new memories for their children to enjoy. Below you will find guidance on how to get you and your children through the first Christmas without your spouse.
Helping Your Children Cope
Talk to Your Children as Often as Possible
Children are more aware of real life events than parents are willing to let on. They see the divorce has caused an emotional strain on you and therefore, they don’t want to make matters worse by dumping their feelings on you. It is important to pay attention to the signs your child might send your way. If they become distant, quiet, or just not their usual selves, it is important for you to step in.
When communicating with your child, make sure you let them know it is okay to express whatever they are feeling about the holidays and their other parent not being there. Let them know that both parents still love them and that they will get to create new memories with both of you. Validating their feelings, showing them that you care, and communicating when they feel down is the first and most important step to moving past the pain.
Talk to Your Ex
Unless you divorced because they caused bodily harm to you, hopefully you’re at a point where you and your spouse can communicate on an cordial note. This discussion should not involve the past, divorce, the pain you’re experiencing, or any of the above. Instead it should be a “brainstorming session” of how you’re going to work together as parents for the sake of your child’s happiness.
It is important also that you work on your attitude towards your ex. Whether you guys plan to somehow spend the holidays under the same roof or in separate homes, your children pay attention to how you to interact. You don’t have to be friends, and you don’t have to go overboard with happiness, but at least be able to express neutral feelings.
Create a New Holiday Plan
With or without your children present, you and your spouse need to create a new Holiday plan. The plan needs to involve both parents spending time with the children in their own way. If you can get the children involved, this is a great way to let them feel in control of something in this entire divorce process. For instance, maybe you keep the children Christmas morning and your spouse has them Christmas evening. Sacrifices will have to be made for the sake of the children so don’t get caught up in the “pay back” attitude that can come out of left field when dealing with a divorce. Your children are not a pawn. Both parents should work on new Christmas traditions that can be carried on when they have their time with the children. While they can be similar to traditions that were created under the same roof, providing differences to the traditions makes for an easier transition for the children.
Showing your children that you have compassion for their needs during such a trying time in their little lives will go a long way. They will learn to not only deal with holidays in separate homes, but will eventually learn to cope with the divorce as a whole if both parents can put aside their feelings for the sake of the children.
Sorting Through Your Emotions
All the planning and communicating in the world will not work for your children if you don’t also learn to cope with the holiday sadness yourself. As you may or may not know your children and everyone else around you can pick up on negative vibes which could kill the mood of the holiday for everyone. You need to learn ways to let go of the anger, regret, stress, and guilt you might be feeling and just allow the spirit of the holidays to get you through. It won’t be an easy journey, but these tips below will help the process along.
Have Some Alone time
The holidays are all about togetherness. However, if you’re always around someone and tending to their needs, how are you ever going to get the time that you need to let your emotions flow. Take some down time for yourself. Even if you can only manage an hour or so out of your hectic daily life, getting the emotion out is healthy and necessary. Take a walk, sit in a peaceful area, or even drive somewhere you can just let whatever emotions you might have pint up, out. Some have even found solace in writing down what they feel in a journal. It is a way of venting without actually talking to someone.
Turn Off the Ex Factor
Not the television series, but really turn off the “ex factor” that can get stuck in your brain. Whether your ex is alone for the holidays or has someone new in their life, what they are doing for the holidays (aside from visitation with the children) is none of your concern. Allowing yourself to get wrapped up in the world of your ex only takes you further back into the treadmill of overwhelming emotion.
Lean on Friends and Family
Being alone all the time is never a good thing when going through a divorce. This is the time when you should be reaching out to those that care about you most. Surrounding yourself with supportive people can be the best thing you ever do to get you through the holidays without your ex. There is something about love from others that gives you the courage to go on. Invite your friends and family members to come over and share this special holiday season with you.
The holidays are about fun times and festivities! It’s time for you to let your hair down and get social. This doesn’t have to be a quest to find your new Mr./Mrs. Right, but instead should be a distraction to keep your mind off the past. When you receive holiday party invitations you should participate in them. Mixing, mingling, and meeting new people can be a great way to keep your mind at ease and in the spirit.
Again, getting through the first holiday after a divorce is difficult, but not impossible. By taking this advice into consideration and implementing it into your life, you will soon see that you are one step closer to accepting reality and moving on to better and brighter days ahead.