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

     Posted on November 15, 2009 at 10:45 am | No comment

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