Divorcing the Holidays

“Both of my parents are such integral parts of my perception of holidays…”

This is the opening of a short movie called A New Cup of Wine. The movie describes the struggles of 17-year-old Doria Charlson after her parents have divorced. Her favorite holiday used to be Passover; she now finds it to be a confusing and depressing experience, however, as she splits time between her mother and father’s homes.

When her parents were together, Doria’s father provided the ritualistic knowledge and her mother provided the “fun”. Now that the holiday has been separated, both home’s celebrations are lacking the balance she adored. Doria finds she has to find ways to adapt to her new holiday experience.

Parents need to recognize and acknowledge that their children may be feeling stressed and overwhelmed during a normally joyful holiday. Here are some tips to help them manage the stress and keep the holiday as a positive experience:

• Don’t ask your child to choose who they want to spend the holiday with. Children love both their parents and don’t want to be placed in position to choose one over the other
• Plan ahead with your co-parent, and clearly communicate to your child about the holiday plans
• Do your best to maintain any traditions that are important to your child
• Start a new tradition if the old tradition conflicts with your child spending time with both parents or if the old tradition can’t be accomplished by one parent alone
• Don’t overpromise – fulfill whatever obligations you’ve made to your child
• Assist and encourage your child to maintain communication with your co-parent during the holiday
• Coordinate any gift-giving with your co-parent, and assist your child in selecting or making a gift for your co-parent

Can We Listen?

“Listen to my words.”

I must use that phrase a hundred times a day with my young children. They tend to be independent thinkers, and they succumb easily to their juvenile whims. That’s when I have to look them in the eyes and say, “Listen to my words.”

How many times a day should someone think of using that phrase with you?

It is common for people to hear only ten percent of what is said to them. Many times this is due to poor listening skills. Poor listening skills can alienate the people you work with and damage your relationships. Without the ability to listen, you are only responding to the thoughts in your own head.

People like to feel respected and important. Proficient listening skills show you appreciate the person you’re speaking with. Listening includes trying to understand what the other person is saying as well as feeling.

Here are five ways to improve your listening skills:
1. Maintain good eye contact
2. Ask questions
3. React using head and face gestures
4. Summarize the important points periodically
5. Maintain attentive and respectful body language

If nothing else, you should always remember Mark Twain’s words: “If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two mouths and one ear.”