By Julie Garrison
Special to DadsDivorce.com
After surviving your divorce with your first post-divorce Christmas looming ahead, many divorced dads are trying to figure out how to celebrate it with your children.
Your actions can make the differences between a stressful holiday and a happy one.
Here is what one child of divorce had to say about holiday time:
“The effects of divorce on a child also extend to the holidays. When the family was married, holidays were a time of fun and celebration.
Now that the family is divorced, kids may find holidays to be overwhelming, depressing and emotionally draining. This is because they are away from at least one of their parents, and they may be caught in the middle of a fight between their parents over who should get the kids over Christmas break.
You can avoid the negative effects caused by this situation by not focusing on the holiday date, but on the holiday spirit instead. If you cherish every day with your kids, then you won’t feel like you are missing out on as much if you don’t have them on a holiday date.
You may also want to try and hold your special holiday celebration on a different date. This way both parents get to have a special day with their kids, and the kids will have two great days with their parents instead of a single stressed out holiday.”
Review Your Divorce Order
Before you put up your Christmas tree and break out the colored house lights, pull out your divorce papers. Your Christmas lights and your divorce papers may seem like diametric opposites, but – believe me – they are both important in building new Christmas traditions with your children and making the holiday enjoyable again.
If you have a parenting plan that spells out your holiday schedule with your kids, you are in luck. Proceed with the holiday as it was agreed upon. This may translate to the kids spending Christmas Eve at your ex’s house and Christmas Day at yours, or vice versa.
No Holiday Parenting Time
If you simply don’t have the kids at any time during the holidays, you may want to ask your ex if she will allow you to spend part of the holiday with the kids. If she refuses, which is often the case, then you need to have your parenting plan modified by the court to include provisions for holiday visitation.
This is reason enough to firm up your parenting order and solidify your holiday parenting time for Christmases in years to come.
Create Positive Memories, Not Painful
Years from now, it’s not going to matter who had the kids when during the holiday season. But your children will absolutely remember any bickering their parents engaged in over who got the kids over what portion of the holidays.
I have seen two normal, rational parents insist on enforcing the children’s time with their father on Mother’s Day and with their mother on Father’s Day every single year simply because those holidays always ended up falling on the opposite parent’s weekends. For the kids, decades later, it can still be a painful memory.
You may even feel that you have been more flexible than Gumby in accommodating your ex’s requests to change visitation times, and you may be resenting it. But being the bigger, better parent will take you a long, long way in your relationship with your children, both now and into their adult years.
Julie Garrison has been writing articles and short stories for the past 10 years and has appeared in several magazines and e-zines.