The holidays are rough for families going through divorce. They can bring up strong emotions including sadness and loneliness
During and after divorce, old holiday traditions become obsolete and it becomes necessary to create new holiday memories. This creation of new traditions is particularly important for children because it will allow them to preserve positive relationships with their parents and create good memories in future years.
Letting Go of Old Traditions
As a parent going through divorce in the holidays, it’s important to recognize which traditions no longer fit your family. This can be really heartbreaking for children, and even for parents.
For example, I once had a client with a very rich ex-husband who had a big Christmas event every year. The adult children decided to go to the event, which left their mother feeling very lonely being excluded from this tradition for the first time.
So I recommended to her that she go do volunteer work for some perspective, and she decided to go feed the homeless rather than attend this party. It gave her some much-needed perspective and a new holiday tradition that left her feeling fulfilled.
Creating New Holiday Memories
Once you’re aware of which holiday traditions no longer fit in your family and can accept it’s time to replace those traditions, you’ve laid the groundwork for creating new, positive holiday memories.
It’s important to note that during this sensitive time of transition, a little compassion goes a long way– compassion towards both your ex-spouse and your children. All parties are struggling with the turmoil and the ending of old familiar traditions. Try to keep your feelings in check and model your behavior to minimize conflict.
With that in mind, you’re ready to create new traditions. Putting the past away will open up the creativity for new traditions.
Another client of mine who was a father felt the pang of loneliness when he got less time with his son post-divorce. This son really enjoyed rock-climbing, so his dad decided to start taking rock-climbing lessons and then took his son on a rock-climbing vacation– a great new tradition and way to bond!
Tips for Creating Your New Holiday Traditions
- Be cordial and businesslike with your ex-spouse post-divorce during the holidays– and especially do not express anger towards them in front of your children.
- Try to keep a positive attitude about the holidays and focus on spending quality time with your children
- Both plan ahead and be flexible– have a schedule in place for children but allow them to have options.
- Be sensitive to your children’s feelings and remember that they are not your possessions– they have their own feelings to process, after all.
- Create space for your children to express their negative feelings and validate that expression without making it about your own feelings
- Try to laugh and lighten the mood as much as possible
- Keep the traditions that still work for the family such as playing certain games or doing certain activities
- Begin new holiday traditions such as…
- Visiting friends
- Volunteering to serve those in need
- Cooking a delicious meal together
- Going to a holiday event or show
Establishing these new holiday memories will not only help keep the holiday spirit alive, but it will help to heal the family during this difficult transition time and keep the process moving forward. If you keep the focus on your children’s well-being, you will be able to create these new traditions and sustain positive relationships with them.
For more guidance in creating new traditions during divorce, read my book 7 Secrets from the Divorce Whisperer: Savings Yourself, Your Money, and Your Children During Divorce.