Divorced at Christmas: Tips for Managing the Holidays for your Children

Posted by Alyson Jones.

The holidays can be a stressful time for any family.  Family members can get lost in a flurry of activity, focusing on deadlines and forgetting about the joy.  But if your family has gone through a separation or divorce, this time of the year may have a whole new set of challenges. The holidays can turn into a very complicated and difficult time for the parents and children from separated families, and below are some tips on how to move your family towards a meaningful and memorable holiday season.

The reality is that children who have parents living in two different homes may experience some extra burdens.  They may worry about which parent they will be with at what time, and they may fear that their parents will fight over how they share the holidays.  As a child and family therapist, I have had many children sit in my office who told me that Christmas used to be their favorite time of the year, but now they are just dreading it.  In order for the adults to help manage this season it is important to understand what turns youthful joy into anxiety and fear.  Children may worry they are being disloyal if they start to have too much fun with one parent.  They also worry about the parent that they are not with, wondering if that parent is okay.  Sometimes they just deeply miss the parent they are not with.  The familiar traditions may be gone and this can leave the children feeling as though something or someone is missing.

How Parents Can Get MORE Out The Holiday Season

Posted by Alyson Jones.

GettyIt is the festive season again. Another year has rolled by and we are now busy decking the halls, trying to find that perfect gift, and worrying if we will be able to manage our holiday budget. When we pull out the old string of lights we remember that half of them do not work, and we are behind in our shopping. The Christmas commercials are in full swing, and each time we see a commercial we either see an idyllic family scene or harried parents trying to juggle it all. As parents, the two faces of Christmas are often reflected back to us as either perfection or overwhelm.

Many of the commercials try to tell parents that we can overcome our stress and have the perfect family Christmas, as long as we buy their product or shop at their store. That image of the family sitting at Christmas dinner, everyone smiling at each other and the ideal turkey perfectly placed on the platter, can quickly become a great disappointment if we make perfection our goal. Mothers, in particular, often feel that they do not measure up if they cannot achieve this image, and they fear that they may in fact be the harried mother who will not be able to make the magic happen. They can easily become overwhelmed trying to achieve an image that is just a fantasy, and then miss out on the reality in from of them. No one wants to be that mother drowning in the season, disconnected and overwhelmed. But can perfection be reached; can we achieve that perfect picture? No, give up now! Let the perfectionism go, let the fears of inadequacy go, and free yourself in order to make this Christmas a truly exceptional one.