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Divorce Doesn’t Have To Ruin The Holidays: Key 1 – Create an Environment of Acceptance

At a time when things can feel broken, it becomes important to find acceptance. But how do you create an environment of acceptance? Begin by finding that place in your Self that feels so accepting of your child. Hold that feeling and see if you can feel it for your Self. Now see if you can feel it for your ex-partner (you may need to remember when you first met!!) Your acceptance of your child allows you to listen to their difference in perception and feeling. It is important to allow an acceptance of the difference of perception and feelings in your Self and your ex-partner as well. During the holidays, especially for divorced family and divided homes, a child is going to have their own internal experiences.


It is critical to avoid warring with your ex-partner at this time. The fragmentation keeps the child externally focused on each parent in order to prevent the plunge into that dangerous territory of destruction (warring, arguing, hate/dislike). Further, the anger and stress that is being felt by estranged partners is felt or intuited by the child and impacts her or his emotions and stress level. A child will take a lot of the fear-based emotions personally. That occurs at many levels but an important piece to understand is that the child will personalize the absence of acceptance between his or her 2 parents. A child will do this in order to keep her or his parents good and omnipotent. A child who has good parents is a safe child. That means that if a child hears the discord he or she feels an absence of safety and then must turn it into a definition of safety. Obviously, that is not a real sense of safety for the child and the child ultimately knows this and is built upon the absence of true safety.


Without acceptance, a child may feel duty bound to each separate parent which can cause a sense of being torn between them. This can lead to inner experiences of sadness and guilt which can lead to a loss of self-esteem. In an environment of acceptance, the child is free to be with each parent because there is an understanding that the other parent is accepting of the experience of the child and the ex-partner and of their own experience without the child. This environment allows the child’s self-esteem to build because she or he no longer feels like a bad child because an inability to please both parents. Furthermore, the child no longer has to protect the parents or self.


Acceptance ignites a friendly environment. Agree to focus on the child’s happiness and joy. If you and your ex-partner are estranged, take the initiative to communicate a plan that allows both of you to bury your differences for a circumscribed period. Protect the child from any hostile or angry feelings. An effort to keep any conflictual communication with an ex-partner completely removed from the child and his or her environment creates a positive loving environment for the child and allows the happiness and love of the season to prevail.


Parents sharing the holiday is wonderful — if it is genuine! Many of the couples with whom I work are truly friends with one another. They have rediscovered those qualities in one another that brought them together initially and have created a friendship. In those families, the children know the unity is genuine and can feel the acceptance of one parent as they spend time with the other. Sharing the holiday with your ex-partner with hidden selfish intent will be felt by the child and can be further destructive, emotionally.


Acceptance at the holidays is very important for the older or adult child as well. The college student returning home for break or the adult coming home for the holidays, needs to create a schedule with whom they are going to spend time. If they are aware that each parent is accepting of the child’s choice, the adult child can be more free and happy as he or she creates her or his unique holiday tradition.


As can be seen, a friendly environment of acceptance is a critical component in allowing the child, no matter how old, to move beyond possible feelings of guilt as they spend time with one parent at a time during the holidays. The atmosphere of acceptance furthers the holiday as joyous and allows all members of the family to unite and grow.


I wish you all a holiday season filled with acceptance and friendship!!

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Kristen Bomas, PA
398 Camino Gardens Blvd., Suite 104
Boca Raton, Fl 33432


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