By Julie Garrison
Special to DadsDivorce.com
After a divorce, the children may fantasize about their parents getting back together.
If you have plans to bring the whole family together, including your ex-wife, to celebrate the holidays in order to keep things “normal” then you may want to reconsider.
Sharing the holiday with your ex will do nothing more than feed this magical thinking.
It is better to establish new Christmas traditions on your own. Now you can set up your Christmas traditions the way that you have always wanted them to be.
Consider what one psychologist has to say:
“Convincing a young child of the permanence of divorce can be hard when his intense longing fantasizes that somehow, some way, mom and dad will be living back together again someday.
He relies on wishful thinking to help allay the pain of loss, holding onto hope for a parental reunion.
Thus parents who put in a joint presence at special family celebrations and holiday events to re-create family closeness for the child only feed the child’s fantasy and delay his adjustment.”
Confronting the White Christmas Blues
During your first Christmas season as a divorced dad, you are bound to have some sad feelings. This is normal. Don’t allow yourself to go “dark” for an extended period of time. Unrelenting feelings of sadness can develop into full-blown depression if you fail to address it.
Even if you are the spouse who initiated the divorce, you are still going to have days when you are subject to feeling blue. After all, when couples divorce, not every aspect of their marriage was bad. Certain problems inflicted a mortal wound on the marriage. But couples will, of course, have some happy memories as well.
If your feelings of sadness persist, talk to a friend about how you are feeling. You may want to see a counselor or even your family doctor.
Another resource for emotional help can be a minister or priest. Most members of the clergy are trained in counseling members of their congregations through difficult life changes.
If you are divorced and viewing the upcoming Christmas holiday as a dreaded event, you may consider joining a divorce recovery group. Churches, community centers and doctors’ offices often have divorce recovery group information posted.
I can guarantee you that there will be other men and women at these groups who are experiencing the same conflicted feelings. You can find support, friendship and a safe group of comforting people to help you and your children navigate the rough waters of the first Christmas after your divorce.
And then, next year, you may find yourself helping someone else.
Julie Garrison has been writing articles and short stories for the past 10 years and has appeared in several magazines and e-zines.