The holidays are all about family traditions — and when the family gets split apart, those traditions can take a serious blow.
Correspondingly, the sense of security your children have can take a similar blow. Children thrive on familiarity and routine — and when holiday traditions fall apart because of divorce, they may feel angry, lost or confused.
If the old traditions don’t work anymore, how can you create new ones that will? It may require a little creativity and cooperation with your ex-spouse:
If you’ve always made a mad dash from house to house on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day so that all sets of grandparents and assorted aunts and uncles can get to see the kids, it’s a great time to cut out that hassle. Ask the extended family members when it would be good to see them the week of Christmas — either a few days before or after — and make that the new tradition instead.
If you’ve always done something the night before Christmas, there are often creative ways of making those traditions fit the new situation. For example, if everyone always got a new pair of pajamas and a book to help them fall asleep while waiting on Santa Claus, maybe the noncustodial parent can deliver the books and stick around for hot chocolate before heading back home.
When parents feel guilty about upsetting their kids at the holidays, they can overcompensate by overspending. Talk to your ex and make sure that you agree on how much is enough. You also want to divide up the kids’ wish lists so that you don’t end up duplicating gifts. Decide if you’ll let the kids know which parent bought which gift.
If your kids are still little, they may worry that Santa won’t know where to find them now that their parents are divorced. If you have coordinated answers ahead of time, you’ll avoid confusion and unnecessary upsets. Now is a great time to create a tradition regarding directing Santa to the right location.
It’s important for divorced parents to work together whenever possible. Despite the divorce, you’re still connected by the most special of family members — your children.