By: Rebecca A. Myers for Divorced Moms.
On The Simpsons, Helen Lovejoy is often quoted as saying, “Will someone please think of the children?”
I think this is a particularly appropriate sentiment during the holiday season.
For families who have not been “intact” for some time, or others who are going through transition, often the stress of the holiday season — coupled with the additional stress of new living circumstances — makes Christmas particularly trying.
I find clients who are transitioning to their new lives find the first holiday season to be particularly difficult.
Everyone faces stresses associated with the holidays in the form of decorating, baking, buying presents, making merry and balancing budgets. Those facing the new world of contemplating whose Christmas festivities the kids will attend and what holiday traditions can survive the transition have it particularly hard.
To those of you who have already worked through these issues, and who know exactly what you will be doing this holiday season, where the kids will be over their break, etc., I commend you on the efforts that had to go into finalising these arrangements and making peace with the new schedule.
Listen: This Glorious Next examines the phenomenon of birds nest parenting. (Post continues after audio.)
To those of you who are just facing these holiday co-parenting challenges for the first time, I wanted to share some thoughts:
1. Helen Lovejoy was right.
We should be thinking of the children. Christmas, New Year — these are magical moments for children, and getting bogged down in the stress or fights over exactly how they will be spent detracts from that magic. Even if you are not so foolish as to try and discuss these issues with your children (which is hopelessly inappropriate), your stress still shows and they’ll still pick up on it.
First off, never, ever, ever talk to your children about difficulties that you’re having making holiday arrangements, or tell them you’re sad that they won’t be there with you Christmas morning or anything of the like. They’re your children; let them stay that way. The world is going to do enough to disavow them of their innocence and hope; don’t speed up the process.
2. Do talk to somebody.
Separation and divorce are incredibly stressful and emotionally painful experiences. Going through them alone and maintaining some degree of self and sanity is nearly impossible. Talk to your friends. Talk to your family. Talk to your priest. Talk to your therapist. Talk to somebody. Anybody—(except your children).