By Julie Garrison
Special to DadsDivorce.com
Even if you are the one who initiated the divorce, holidays still pull on the heartstrings. After all, everything about your marriage and family life probably was not divorce-quality bad.
During the holidays, people often have trouble letting go of the bad and building new memories in their place. Even good change can be emotionally charged.
Here are a few tips on surviving the fall and winter holidays after separation and/or divorce:
Know When You Will Have The Kids
The first thing to do in preparation for the holidays is to double-check what your holiday parenting time will be. If you feel that you don’t have enough parenting time with the kids for the holidays, try to amicably negotiate with your ex-wife for more time.
If she is inclined to be uncooperative, you may need to see a men’s divorce attorney and have a modification of your parenting-time order drawn up. Perhaps she will agree to stipulate to the modification to avoid going back to court.
Start Building Your Own Traditions
Don’t worry about what you do or don’t have in your possession as far as Christmas or Hanukah decorations are concerned. Start over. You don’t have to spend a lot of money.
Just do what will make you and your kids feel more inspired about the holidays. You can cook your own turkey for Thanksgiving and celebrate it with the kids. Maybe you could go apple picking at a fall resort or drive through your neighborhood looking at Christmas lights.
Presents Don’t Matter
I can tell you one thing for sure: Presents don’t matter. Your kids will be more interested in seeing you than they will be with receiving a bunch of gifts.
Try to stay away from the “one-upmanship trap” with your ex. When divorced couples try to outdo each other for birthdays and Christmas, everyone loses and the kids catch on very quickly.
Suzy Brown, Director of Midlife Divorce Recovery Bootcamp, says the following:
“Remember, it’s not about stuff! Make a budget. Don’t overspend. Don’t try to buy love or loyalty. In a recent survey, many Americans are still paying off some part of holiday extravagance until November of the following year. Change that “more stuff” mind set. It will be good for you and good for your children, too. Give gifts of time and attention”
Divorced Dads Guide:
Of course, the first year of holidays after the divorce may feel involve experiencing sad emotions on your part, your parents’ part, and your children’s.
But, honestly, that is no reason to curl up in a ball and act like Christmas, Hanukah, or Thanksgiving never happened. You have to build anew.
Reach out to friends and family. You may even want to join a divorce recovery group in your community, church, or synagogue. These people will continue as supportive friends long after the holidays are over.
The Silver Lining
Think of those in-laws who drove you nuts all those years that you were married to your ex. This is the silver lining! You will probably never have to spend another holiday with those people – ever again.
Not everything about a divorce is bad.
Julie Garrison has been writing articles and short stories for the past 10 years and has appeared in several magazines and e-zines.