You truly can’t escape it during this time of year can you? One movie after another depicting the perfect family celebrating the holidays. What happens if your family doesn’t resemble that at all? What happens if there was a break down in your relationship and now you are forced into a divided holiday?
I am here to tell you that as difficult as the situation may seem there are ways to keep the holidays merry and bright. The most important thing to keep reminding ourselves here is that the children should always be the first priority. When we end up with divided families things are going to change and we need to be flexible. Keep in mind that our children are going to find this time challenging, so we need to be the leader. It is our job to compromise, be positive and make this work with no negative talk regarding their other parent. I live this situation personally, so I do know how difficult this can be. When the stress catches up with you, spend some time alone and get it out, but never around your child.
We usually end up with two very different situations. Those divided families who can work together, and those who cannot. Let’s begin with those of you who are in the tough spot of working with a less than cooperative ex. Below are some tips to make your holidays great despite the added stress.
Negotiate and Compromise
Now is a great time to teach your children the art of flexibility. Choose the traditions that are important to you to maintain, and ensure that they happen. While you may not be able to celebrate on the actual day you want, make your day special with all the same traditions. Children seldom follow calendars, but they always remember moments.
The holidays can be stressful. Dealing with unsettled differences with an ex during these times will only be faced with added anger and hostility. Do your best to table any issues and get through the holidays for your children. Remember, they learn by example. Take this time to teach them that despite having differences, you both love them. If you find yourself facing an ex who forces confrontation on you, continually remove yourself from that situation and refuse to engage as much as possible. You cannot control their behaviour, but you can control how you react.
Enjoy those precious moments
When families become divided the approaching holidays can bring despair for the parent who doesn’t get to spend it with their children. Instead, really try to focus on those precious moments that you DO have with them instead of the moments you DON’T. Putting a positive spin on the situation will help put you in a better place, be able to enjoy the holidays with your family and put your children at ease.
Take some time for you
Having your children away during the holidays is a feeling a parent can’t quite describe. I have felt it, it is lonely and it hurts. The first year is always the most difficult and distractions can be your best friend. This is the perfect time to take some “me” time. We can get burnt out during the holiday season so why not take a mini vacation to refresh? Go visit some friends or family, or just spend some time alone if that is what you need. Your children will return to a relaxed and happier parent, ready to celebrate.
My parents divorced when I was very young. I know well what it was like to have shared holidays. Six years ago, my own marriage ended and my own children began down the same path. It was the first time being a child of divorced parents came in handy. I had a serious conversation with my childrens father about what raising our children apart was going to look like. We have had some bumps along the way, but my children are fortunate. They have divorced parents who maintain the best possible relationship for their sake. Our children deserve that because the demise of our marriage is a separate issue. It takes more patience and compromise then I ever thought I had in me. What I had to keep reminding myself was this. My children are blessed to have so much love and family surrounding them. I don’t ever want to stand in the way of them spending time with all of them. So, I compromise, I sacrifice, and I am patient.
All divided families are unique in their situations, I realize this. Not all are able to come together for the children. For all of you who are struggling through this holiday season, keep remembering to be in the moment. Try less to worry about what you may be losing out on and focus on all you still have to be thankful for.
My last piece of advice is to those blended families who may face criticisms for enjoying your holidays together. As a child of divorce, one of my least favourite things was spending my holidays travelling between homes. When I realized how this was affecting my own children I wanted things to change. After having a discussion with my amazing husband, my children and their father, we have all decided to have just one Christmas, together. Yes, we realize this isn’t the norm and we are okay with that. Yes, we understand people find it odd and we are okay with that too.Yes, I am well aware of just how wonderful my husband is. We are grateful to be able to do these things as one family for our children. If you also find yourselves in this situation and are able to work together, do not let other’s opinions influence your decisions. Always do what works best for you and your children, end of story.
So, while I set a an extra place setting this year and compromise, I want to remind you all to step back and ask yourselves who are you making these memories for? If you want this holiday season to be memorable for you children, be flexible, be loving and enjoy them.
From my imperfectly perfect blended holiday family to yours ❤