Dealing with the Holidays After Divorce

As we enter this season of joy and excitement we recognize that our clients who are newly separated or divorced may be facing the holidays with hesitation and some fear.  The holiday season can be particularly stressful if you are dealing with divorce or child custody issues.  Allison & Mosby-Scott has put together some tips to help you have a happy and healthy holiday season.  If you want to find out more about the family law practice at Allison & Mosby-Scott or are in the need of legal assistance, please visit our website or call us at 309-662-5084.

1.  Get into The Holiday Spirit.

The holidays are a time of joy and a time to focus on family.  Often those going through divorce or child custody issues may find it difficult to get into the holiday spirit.  As hard as it may be, it is important for you to celebrate the holidays, especially for your children.  The holidays are a time to teach your children all about the true meaning of the holiday spirit, about appreciating what you have and being selfless with others.  Remind yourself that the holidays are a time for forgiving, selflessness and new starts.  Treasure your children, even if you won’t have them during the holidays. Remember the holidays are not all about you, your children deserve their celebrations.

2.  Watch how you communicate with your children.

If you won’t have your children for the holidays, it can be difficult.  Avoid placing undue stress on your children by telling them repeatedly how much you will miss them when they are with your ex or telling them what they will miss while they are away.  A better approach would be to tell them that you love them and that you hope they will have a great holiday with their other parent.  Be an example of the true meaning of the holidays to your children.

3.  Don’t Treat the Holidays as a Competition with your ex.

A common trap that divorced parents fall into is making the holidays a competition.  Trying to compete with your ex on gifts and events during the holidays not only teaches your children the wrong lessons, but can be an expensive way to ruin the holiday spirit.  Remember that the holidays are not about stuff and you can’t buy love or loyalty.

4.  Follow the Visitation Schedule.

There is a visitation schedule with your ex, follow it.  Avoid the urge to suddenly show up at your ex’s house on Christmas morning.  Also, don’t plan events for the children when it’s not your time.  Instead, respect the holiday visitation schedule.  You and your ex will both be happier, your kids will be happier and it will be easier to work with your ex on next year’s holiday visitation schedule.

5.  Communicate and coordinate with your ex.

A brief email, telephone message, or conversation with your ex can insure that you don’t duplicate presents or plan back-to-back celebrations with your children.  A little time cooperating with your ex can save time and money later.  Work out exactly where your children will be during what times, and when, where, and how exchanges will take place.  Having a plan in place that both parents can follow will make your children feel more secure, and will help everyone have a happier holiday season.

6.  Be Flexible.

You may have traditions that you’d like to keep with your children.  That’s ok, but you’ll have to be flexible.  Who says that Thanksgiving has to be celebrated on the official Thanksgiving Day every year?  If you don’t have your children on Christmas, decorate your tree and celebrate Christmas earlier in December.  An added benefit might be to make the holidays less hectic.  Also, work things out in advance with your own extended family.  This may mean that you have to say “no” to some things you and your ex agreed to in the past.

7.  Stay healthy

The holidays cause stress for everyone, even those not dealing with divorce and child custody issues.  The holidays are also filled with opportunities to eat and drink.  It is important that you pay particular attention to staying healthy during the holiday.  Stay on track of your exercise routine, watch what you eat and don’t over drink.  Staying healthy during the holidays is important for you and your children.

Allison & Mosby-Scott hopes that all our clients and friends have a happy and healthy holiday season.