Whether your family is healthy, blissfully blended, or undergoing marital separation, the holidays can be a complicated time for everyone involved. The stress of finding the perfect gifts, making time to visit extended family members, and keeping true to your favorite holiday traditions can make even the most amiable person a bit of a Grinch.
Sadly, children of divorced moms and dads may face the brunt of their parents’ stress during this time. That’s why Negley Law, APC is providing tips you and your family can implement to ensure your holidays stay happy:
Feel Your Feelings – and Focus on Your Children
If this is your first holiday season post-divorce, it’s critical to acknowledge that you will feel grief – perhaps more so now, as the holidays can bring up a variety of emotions. You and your former spouse must also realize that there is a learning curve as you learn to navigate co-parenting and sustain healthy relationships with your children. But no matter how fresh your wounds are, put your children’s feelings first. As long as you focus on their happiness, you won’t be as overwhelmed by the grief you may feel from your marriage ending. Encourage your kids to have an amazing holiday, even if they’re spending most of it with your ex-spouse.
Consider Celebrating the Holidays Together
If you have a cordial relationship with your ex, celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah together can show your children you’re still a united front. That doesn’t mean having to participate in every holiday activity with your ex, but simple things like opening gifts or sharing one meal as a family can help give your child happy memories that they’ll look back on fondly. But if your divorce ended acrimoniously, you’re better off celebrating the holidays separately. In this case, be clear about expectations and which days and how much time each parent will be spending with the kids.
Don’t Be a Scrooge When it Comes to Traditions
Be open to new family traditions. Old rituals can be fun, but it’s more important to create new memories that bring joy to the whole family. On a similar note, don’t discourage your children from practicing traditions that are familiar to them. Ask your children which of their past traditions is most important to them and keep carrying on with those.
Remember, it’s Not a Competition
It’s likely that you and your ex-spouse have different financial circumstances. Don’t get hung up on trying to buy your child’s love with the swankiest new toy. Your time and affection will ultimately mean more to your children than material possessions. Co-parents should consider making an agreement about how much they will spend on their children so that kids don’t receive the same gift twice, or so that one parent doesn’t feel ‘outdone’ by the other. In fact, joint gifts are a good way to show children that even though their parents are no longer together, they are still working together to be a happy family.
Communicate with Family
Your divorce isn’t just new to you, it’s an adjustment for your extended family as well. It’s unlikely that you and your children will be able to make it to every family event as one unit, so be sure to communicate with your loved ones that you may be arriving solo to some engagements. Most importantly, ask your family for their understanding, especially during the holidays. Their love and support will prove to be the most meaningful gift of all.
When you need a family law attorney in Ventura County, or if you have questions regarding your divorce settlement, spousal support, child support or other family law issues, do not hesitate to contact our law firm which specializes in family law and related issues. Two of our three dedicated family law attorneys are Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS), Certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. Our initial consultations are free, and we look forward to providing you with “Zealous Representation in Family Law.” Contact Negley Law, APC today to learn more.
John J. Negley, Jr., CFLS*
NEGLEY LAW, APC
200 E Santa Clara St #200, Ventura, CA 93001
*Certified Family Law Specialist by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization.