Parents of young children who are struggling through their first post-divorce holiday season can easily become overwhelmed by the stress. While it is natural to have trouble adapting to what is now the new normal, it's vital to try to keep things as close to your children's regular routines as possible.
Children are sensitive to their parents' unspoken cues, whether it's the inability to communicate civilly with their other parent or the overwhelming emotions the parents feel knowing that they have to spend their first holiday season without their children present. While it is difficult, parents can take some steps to make the holidays still a joyous time for their children.
Learning to communicate is key
Whether you have just split up for a trial separation, or the divorce is finalized, you will still need to maintain the lines of communication with your ex. Relationships with exes are fluid, and what may start off as acrimonious can - over time - wind up quite amicable. However, in those first days, weeks and even months after the split, if communicating verbally is too stressful or painful, there are many alternative ways to convey information to your ex.
Use technology as the helpful tool it is intended to be. Emails, texts and special software programs that are designed to facilitate the custody exchanges between divorced parents are good tools to employ in these situations.
Embrace the opportunity to establish new traditions
You can help your children adjust to the situation by establishing new traditions that you will share with them this holiday season and those to come. If the extended family all gathered at your in-laws to make latkes and light the menorah, have some light-hearted fun of your own with a dreidel spin-off contest.
Sometimes it won't be possible to spend the entire holidays with your children, so get creative. If you can't eat Christmas dinner with them, go caroling on Christmas Eve before Midnight Mass. Just make sure that there's plenty of hot chocolate and Christmas cookies to fill their bellies for the late night event.
Devise the custody plan that fits your needs
Make sure that your family law attorney addresses all of your concerns in the custodial arrangements that are included in the final judgment to be signed by the judge. You will probably have to give a little to get a little, as the art of compromise in integral to the best custody agreements.
While this first holiday season after your divorce may certainly not be one of your favorites, try to find the silver lining hiding within the fog of gray. Remember that the new year will soon be upon us, and embrace the winds of change that can blow peace and pros perity to all.