Helping children of divorced parents navigate the holidays

Helping children of divorced parents navigate the holidays

By Monday, children all across the nation will be on winter vacation, if they have not already been released for their holiday. Teenagers and younger children of parents who have chosen to divorce will find themselves in a potentially stressful split between parental households in the coming weeks. Alternatively, some will wish that they could spend time with both parents but for whatever reason, this will not be possible and that is stressful in and of itself.

How can concerned parents help their children navigate the holidays marked by either of these situations? There are several things that parents and loved ones can do to make the holiday brighter rather than more stressful.

First and foremost, it is important to acknowledge that a child’s desire to be with their other parent or to actively communicate with him or her at this time is reasonable. No matter what has occurred between the child’s parents or even the other parent and the child, a strong biological urge exists that children seek their parents’ attention and affection. This urge can be particularly strong during the holidays. Making the child feel guilty for seeking out their other parent in various ways will only make him or her feel alienated, confused and misunderstood.

In addition, it is important to share your own traditions with your children and to celebrate the season with them, even if you will not be together on the actual dates of whatever holidays you choose to observe. Children need to know that whatever may be going on in your life, you will make the effort to celebrate with them and appreciate their presence. Children of divorced parents often internalize their fears and concerns about how their parents are coping with their own stress. Taking time to celebrate with your kids will reinforce that they are important to you.

Source: Huffington Post, “How To Help Your Kids Survive Their First Holiday Season With Divorced Parents” Susan Saper Galamba, Dec. 17, 2012

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