Category Archives: Divorce
Holiday time is family time. But the holidays can be challenging when the family includes one or two sets of step children and two sets of parents. With proper planning, flexibility and a lot of love, the holidays can be a success for all.
1. Discuss financial concerns. Often times the men are supporting two families, and money is tighter as a result. Adults need to come up with a workable budget. Gifts can be homemade, coupons for a parent and child to spend together engaged in an activity the child likes, all making gift-giving affordable.
2. Children react to change with behavioral changes. In a new family, children may not want to listen to their parent’s expectations of how they should respond to the new parent. Be patient. Children may not have a solid relationship with the stepparent. Respect their unique way of relating to others.
3. Recognize that traditions have already been established in the children’s previous families. You can’t necessarily start over fresh and discard the past. It is best to plan ahead, discuss options, determine which traditions to have or throw out, and negotiate agreement on how to celebrate the holiday.
4. If children are spending time with both sets of parents over the holidays then be careful to not set up a competitive relationship. Give the children time to adjust to the different rules and environment after visiting the other parent. After all, having two separate holiday celebrations can be over stimulating, stressful, and tiring for the children.
5. Parents of children who are with their other parent over Christmas may feel depressed. These dark feelings can be combated by establishing new traditions, planning activities with one’s spouse that could not be done with children around, or getting together with friends/colleagues.
6. If the blended family consists of ‘his’, ‘hers’, and ‘ours’ children, be vigilant about treating all equally. Children are aware of favoritism in gift giving, and can end up resenting both the parents and the perceived favorite child, negatively impacting on family relationships.
As with all plans, the needs of the children should be foremost in the holiday decision making process. I know of one woman who epitomizes this by inviting all the children, the ex’s, as well as the in-laws and out-laws to celebrate part of Christmas at her home each year. They don’t all come, and everything doesn’t always go idyllically. But over the years, the adults are learning to put aside their resentments and provide lifelong happy memories for their children.
Eileen Lenson, author, is available for life and business coaching sessions. For further information, call 949-244-5100.
1. Accept the divorce. This involves letting go of your former spouse, not just legally but also emotionally. Some divorced people remain as connected in anger as they once were in love. Such emotional investment in your spouse will prevent you from being able to move forward in your life.
2. Avoid becoming too socially or emotionally isolated. This is the time to reach out to old friends. Let them know you value their friendship. Explore new relationships with colleagues at work or acquaintances at the health club.
3. Plan ahead. Anticipate that certain dates will be difficult. Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, even your divorce date will likely bring on surge of emotions. Recognize these feelings in advance so you can prepare alternative activities.
4. Own responsibility. Painful process, yes. But you will grow from embarking on such an exercise. Even if you truly feel that your ex-spouse was a louse, then ask yourself why you selected that person to be your lifetime partner? Were you attempting to fulfill a need that should be otherwise met? Or are you a ‘bad picker’ because of some perceptions you have of yourself or others that would best be discovered by personal evaluation?
5. Avoid developing unhealthy coping skills, such as overeatting or drinking, smoking, promiscuity, or drugs. Such behaviors can exascerbate depressive tendancies and create new problems for you.
I invite you to share with our readers what has worked for you in taking care of yourself following a divorce.
You’re finally divorced. Anticipate that your children are going to be scared – of the unknown, as well as their feelings. If the parents handle the divorce well, the children will emerge emotionally healthy.
Suggestions to consider:
1. Give your children the green light to talk about their feelings. If they pick up on feelings of anger from you towards your ex-spouse, they will feel uncomfortable or disloyal telling you how they miss their other parent.
2. Reassure your children that they will continue to live with you, even when they are bad. Otherwise, they may fear you will divorce them, too.
3. Help your children remain children. After a divorce children sometimes are uncertain what is expected of them. They may try to take care of a parent by cooking, becoming a peer, or substituting for the absent parent. While it is acceptable for children to assume more responsibilities, they should not become surrogate spouses.
These clear boundaries will help your children have a sense of control over their fear of the unknown. I invite you to please share what concerns or solutions you have found following your own divorce.