Right now, children across Florida are busy counting down the hours until winter break starts and they are finally free to celebrate the holiday season. As exciting as this time of the year can be, however, it's important to understand that it can sometimes be anxiety provoking for some children, particularly those whose parents are divorced.
According to experts, that's because many children of divorce often view the holidays with conflicting emotions. On the one hand, they might feel excited about giving and receiving gifts, spending time with family and friends, and just unwinding. On the other hand, they might feel anxious about possible arguments between parents, guilt over having to leave one parent behind and confused about the details of how they will celebrate.
As worrisome as this may sound, the good news is that experts have also identified some very simple steps that can be taken by divorced parents to help ensure that their children's holiday season is happy and healthy.
- Always put the interests of the children first: This means, at the very least, parents putting aside any resentment, resisting the urge to engage in holiday-related bickering that can rapidly escalate, and remaining civil toward one another. It also means making sure children know as far in advance as possible what the plans are for the holidays so that they have time to prepare.
- Remain flexible: Even when holiday plans are solidified, parents need to remain open to ideas advanced by their children, as it may serve to make their holidays that much brighter. For instance, if a child wants to go out to buy a special holiday gift for the parent they are not spending the holidays with, be supportive of their efforts.
- Keep traditions alive: Experts indicate that children need to feel secure over the holidays above all else. Something that can greatly assist with this, they say, is making sure that any holiday traditions enjoyed before the divorce continue and perhaps starting new traditions for the years to come.
- Set ground rules: No matter how far removed a couple may be from a divorce, there's always the chance that a relative, perhaps out of habit, will say something unflattering about the person's ex. As such, experts advise parents to remind family members on both sides to never speak poorly of a parent in front of a child or even mention the divorce. Let the holidays be about the holidays.
If you have any questions about the divorce process, or concerns relating to child custody or visitation, please speak with an experienced legal professional.