If this is your first Christmas after divorce or child custody order was entered, you may be filled with dread about the upcoming holidays. The children will soon be getting out of school for the Christmas break, and they will be with the “other” parent until noon on December 28th. That first Christmas without them feels like a tidal wave of loneliness approaching.
HERE ARE SOME STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO MAKE YOUR FIRST CHRISTMAS AFTER DIVORCE MORE BEARABLE:
1. REACH OUT TO THE OTHER PARENT
Ask if you can schedule a few hours on Christmas or Christmas Eve with the children, or at least to plan a telephone call. Next year, the children will be with you, and the other parent will be feeling exactly like you do now. Divorce is easiest on families where parents continue to work together on important events.
2. PLAN CHRISTMAS FOR THE 28TH
If you will not be seeing your children earlier, plan Christmas festivities for the evening of the 28th, or the morning of December 29th. Leave your tree up and presents wrapped. Some parents leave stockings stuffed as well. Just be sure to keep them away from your pets.
3. MAKE PLANS FOR YOURSELF ON CHRISTMAS DAY
Visit your parents, call up your sister, let your close friends know that you would like to spend the day with someone. Don’t allow yourself to sit at home. If you spend Christmas Day with nieces or nephews or with a friend who has children, pick presents for those children, and spoil them a little.
4. TELL YOUR CHILDREN YOU’RE HAPPY FOR THEM
You can be dreading your first Christmas after divorce. Don’t tell your children how sad you are that they are going to be with the other parent. Tell them instead how happy their other parent is to be getting to spend that special day with them, and how excited you are to be getting them just a few days later. You want this to be a happy time for them, and the more you say that it will make you sad, the worse you, and the kids, will feel.
5. DON’T RESENT TRAVEL PLANS
If the other parent is taking the children out of town, don’t be angry with them for it. Many people travel over the holidays, and there will probably be sometime that you are out of the area with the children for an important day, too. Think of it as an obvious option, and not as a hostile act.
6. BUILD A BETTER RELATIONSHIP FOR NEXT YEAR- CHRISTMAS AFTER DIVORCE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE LONELY
Your relationship with the other parent may be too toxic to allow the two of you to work out a compromise this year. Put some effort into improving the situation before next year. (Psst… here’s a great book about making a happy home for your kids.)
Next year, the children will be with you. Don’t be afraid to be the first one to be generous with the children’s time. Even if the other parent does not return the favor, the children will benefit from your being reasonable.