As the holiday season approaches, we at the Centre for Mediation know it can be an especially stressful time for families going through separation or a recent divorce. In past years, our readers have found this article helpful so we are re-posting it with best wishes for a smoother holiday season! — Lynne Halem, Director, CMDR
Parenting Through The Holidays When Going Through Separation or After Divorce
Holidays and special events play a key role in the lives of children…
…and so an announcement of a separation of their parents, the key actors and organizers of their lives, throws into question how these highlights of family life will be managed. It therefore goes without saying that it is important for parents to plan for how they will share or divide holidays and special events during separation and after divorce.
With some creativity, and openness to future adjustment…separated and divorced couples can preserve key ingredients of the holiday season by pre-planning the children’s shared visits ahead of time. With a flexible plan in place, all family members can maintain the spirit of the season and enjoy the holidays.
Telling children of an impending separation is one of the most difficult tasks facing separating and divorcing couples.
The anxiety that precedes the conversation and the imagined responses of the children preoccupy the minds and hearts of parents. Parents worry about the impending emotional reaction – tears, hysteria – that they anticipate will come with the shock of the unexpected, and typically unwanted, announcement of parental separation. Yet often, unpredicted by parents, children’s responses constitute more mundane, practical questions; what is going to happen on Christmas? Who will make my costume for Halloween? Am I still going to have a birthday party?
There is no one “right” answer or one division of events that is superior to another. The important point is that parents need to work together to figure out a plan that will work for the family and to remain open and flexible enough to agree to changes if future developments render the plan uncomfortable or even unworkable.
Let us consider some variations for two of the major holidays:
Here we have a one-day holiday, which is part of a four and a half day school break, beginning Wednesday at 12:00 or thereabouts and ending Sunday night (through grade 12 in Massachusetts’ public schools and different in some private schools)
The most common practice is to alternate annually the day or the 4.5-day school break. Yet other parents consider some of the following options:
Christmas and Chanukah
For those who celebrate Chanukah, sharing the time for celebration is generally not as problematic because of the length of the holiday.
Holidays are important times in every family’s life. Separating and divorcing couples need to make it joyful for their children by agreeing on how to share the holidays in a manner that focuses on their children’s needs, while remembering that parental needs and feelings also require consideration. Have a creative plan, and try to be open to changing it, and cherish the holidays.ype Article Here