If you are a newly separated or divorced parent with children, the first winter holidays after your split are typically the hardest for everybody. But it is the innocent children who often experience guilt over their parents’ divorce.
Some parents contribute to their children’s anxiety by making them feel bad for enjoying themselves when spending time with their other parent. Below are three ways to avoid this destructive pattern.
1. Focus on the positive
Yes, the budget might be tighter this year and some traditions may change, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still have good times and make fun memories. Bundle up the kids and head out to look at all the colorful holiday light displays in parks and neighborhoods. Come home and make homemade hot chocolate and create holiday ornaments or spin the dreidel.
2. Don’t give them a guilt trip
Even if it feels as if your heart will break to send them off to your co-parent’s home for the holidays, don’t let it show. After waving them goodbye, have a good cry as you soak in a hot bubble bath. This time alone can be spent doing a series of little kindnesses for yourself and others. Remind yourself the kids will be home soon to spend more time with you.
3. Don’t make them spend the holidays in transit
You don’t want your children to spend the bulk of the holidays boarding and riding in planes, trains or automobiles. Avoiding this requires working together with your co-parent to ensure that the kids enjoy their holidays. That might mean that one parent gets them for the first half of the winter holidays, and they spend the latter half with their other parent. It might also mean alternating holidays if the distance between the parents is too great.
As long as both parents agree to keep their children’s interests foremost, as the Ohio courts do, the divorce process doesn’t have to be as challenging.