Holiday Tips for Blended & Divorced Families.
Co-parenting? Is this your year with the kids? To your child only two things about divorce/separation that are good: double birthday presents and double the holidays. How can you help the children feel comfortable and normal as much as possible? If your ex isn’t a narcissistic, egotistical tyrant and or psychologically disconnected from reality then you are in luck! This means that you two are emotionally stable and healthy in mind. Yes, in the beginning of the separation there was animosity and now some time has passed, the dust has settled and you’ve both got a handle of the schedules, communications, et cetera. The two things you will forever have in common with your ex, 1. The children and 2. You've both moved on. This means either one or both of you are in a relationship and if this is the case they are now part of your children's lives.
Unfortunately what seems fair to the parents may be a burden to the child. Splitting Thanksgiving Day may seem reasonable to you. Parents manage the holiday calendar very differently, some alternate years, Thanksgiving with father in even-numbered years and with mother in odd-numbered years If Thanksgiving is with mother, then Christmas Day is with father. Others divide the significant days, Thanksgiving with mother until 2 PM and then with father after 2 PM. Others try to enjoy holidays together, hoping that maintaining old family traditions helps the children adjust.
So here it comes, if you have a civil relationship with your ex invite them over for the holidays. Invite them with their partner, make this about the children not how you feel or what others will think. This is strictly about the kids, their comfort and what they would like. I’m not saying sacrifice your sanity, if you truly don’t get along with your ex because they have wreaked havoc in your life, don't spend any time with them but if you're not inviting them over because you're worried about what others may think or say, then you are in the wrong.
If you’re getting along well with your ex, it will make sense for the two of you to have one holiday gathering with your kids. Discuss holiday plans and schedules in advance with your ex to prevent misunderstandings and arguments about who has the kids when. Most importantly if your children are old enough allow them to have have a say in the holiday plans. Consider their favorite traditions when planning. Ask your children without being passive aggressive what they would like? If they want to be with both parents or one, all that matters is that their needs are met.
Any time two people can come to an agreement that will allow the child to significantly gain a meaningful, consistent and authentic relationship with both parents will allow your child to flourish. You can share a meal with your ex, it’s not a commitment, just lunch. You are settling into the new normal, you are setting the foundation of your co parenting relationship, make it a healthy one. It might be awkward at first, but both your goals should be making it a great day for the kids. Doesn’t it seem like a no brainer, both adults, mature, educated and wanting the best for the kids. You can put whatever emotions you both may have aside so you may be a family for that moment and be thankful for what you two do have. Remember It's about being thankful for what you have, that you share, your children. That was worth repeating, reread those lines again, let it sink in.
Know that life isn't happily ever after, some people get messily ever after. That messely ever after is just as beautiful. Realizing that life, circumstances, situations, don’t have to be perfect, is your first step to happiness and acceptance. Just show up, enjoy the crazy imperfections and cherish the moments.
Happy Holidays from our family to yours ~ Kat