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Divorce Doesn’t Have To Ruin The Holidays: Key 2 – Keep the Love and Joy Alive

In families divided, sometimes it takes effort to keep love in the forefront of the holidays. Yet, for your child, it is critically important that you keep the love and compassion in the forefront of your heart and thoughts. So, how do you do that? Let me start with a brief comment about the necessity of love in a child’s world and then give you some ideas of how to create a love- and joy-filled holiday.


Too often when partners are split, they can find themselves warring, complaining and harshly judging. These behaviors are in absence of love. Partners can make a promise to leave these behaviors in a box until the holidays are over. It is critical that the love be expressed consistently throughout the holidays. A child will respond to the love by opening his or her self to the experience. Love is an experience that opens and unites a family. Fear (which includes anger, dislike, hurt, etc.) is an experience that shuts down and causes fragmentation. Your child can be very sensitive to the differences at a subtle level but when it is an outward expression of fear-based feelings and thoughts, the child will do what he or she can to take it upon themselves to make her or his environment good and loving. That is not a child’s responsibility. It is the parents’ responsibility.


In general, children intuit parents’ stress, see and hear their stress, and then identify with their stress. Further, children feel safe in a love-filled, unified environment. Consequently, and by design, they tend to personalize any fear-based expressions or experiences of their parents so that they are the bad and their parents remain good and omnipotent. This keeps their world appearing safe. If children were to accept that their parents were bad and, as the child, they are good, they would find themselves in a haunted house with no way out and no rescue. Not only do they take on the “negative”, they also may try to make everyone happy. They want love to abound. If love is not being offered by the child’s parents, the child thinks there is something wrong and, in the vagueness, desperately tries to fix it. It is known that there is nothing the child can fix and that the “it” that they are trying to fix is too vague. Therefore, the child’s efforts are futile.


With an understanding of how your child deals with and perceives fear-based expressions in a home divided, it is clear that working to create a loving positive environment is critical. Nightly, at the dinner table, share your gratitude for your relationship with your child and for everything that happened in your day. Have your child do the same. Practice this simple exercise throughout the holiday season! (I suggest this for everyday of life!) When you are grateful and sharing it with your child, you are also opening them inwardly. It allows them to move beyond their fears and feel love (even if temporarily).


By focusing on grateful experiences and love, your child may open to some of their fears about life and/or her or his relationship with the other parent. At this time, be sure to focus on the child and the child’s experience. This is not an opportunity for you to side with the child against the other parent. Your child needs you to understand them and keep them safe. Any “negative” comments, insinuations, or behaviors about the other parent puts the child in an unsafe middle position.


It is critical that as parents you stay focused on love for your child and all the love based emotions in your life but not to a point of ignoring or denying the fear-based emotions. Your child may experience anger or rebelliousness during the holidays. Often this comes from a mix of thoughts and emotions about the loss of happiness and togetherness that has occurred in their life. It is only through the love that a parent can begin to heal the fear in their child! Work hard to create an environment of positive loving conversation, understanding and talk of others. As a parent creates a positive loving environment for the child the happiness and love of the season prevails within and around the child.

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


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