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Divorce Doesn’t Have To Ruin The Holidays: Key 4 – Communication of the Divorced Family During the Holidays

As the discussion of holidays for children of divorced or separated families continues, the focus is now on communication. The prior three key components to happy holidays for divorced families included acceptance, loving emotions and environment, and gift giving. Communication is inherent in all three and yet must be addressed separately. Communication is the key to all experiences in this life. Given this topic, it is important to keep your communication focused on your and your child’s needs and happiness.


Communication must begin with you. As a parent it is important that you know how you are feeling and what you need. Are you struggling with the loss of the relationship, with low funds, with anger? Or are you feeling freedom and excitement? You want to explore your own feelings and thoughts first. If you are struggling or suffering in some way, take the time to write your feelings and thoughts down in a journal. Review the writings and ask your Self what you need in order to temporarily move beyond these stressful emotions and thoughts. Do you have family or friends or a professional with whom you can trust to help you shift from your pain during the holidays? If not, then reach out to someone!


Once you are able to put your own pained experiences to the side temporarily, find the strength to explore your child’s feelings and emotions at this time. Where your child is experiencing painful emotions, listen and help her or him to understand why he or she may be feeling his or her feelings and then explore ways to transcend those emotions. Do your best not to try to stop or deny your child’s emotional response to the holiday experience. If your child’s pain causes yours to surface, that is ok. You just have to teach that it is okay to hurt at a time like this. As they talk about the hurts the child what he or she would like to experience this holiday. Then it is time to get creative, together! What can be done to make the described experience a reality. It is from this perspective that you can then lead them into the happiness and joy that they wish to feel.


Both you and your child may feel everyone else is enjoying a perfect family holiday. This in turn may lead to feeling isolated, alone, or different than others. Allow your child to talk about their imaginations of others and their fears of their experience. Help the child see that the assumptions of a happy perfect experience elsewhere is because it is her or his own dream. Then ask the child to talk about the ideal holiday. Once you hear your child’s dreams and wishes, you can begin to create an experience and possibly a tradition that includes them.


Part of what your child is experiencing and feeling is coming from you and your feelings and experience. Your child may worry about what happens to you when they have to leave you alone to be with the other parent. So, talk to your child about what it is like to be without him or her during that time. Do so in very positive terms. Let them know that you miss them but are happy they get to have time with their other parent and that you are going to use that time to do special things for your Self. Share the experience you will have and reassure her or him that you will be talking with them! Create a fun feeling around the experience that each of you is having while together and apart.


Communicate with your ex-partner, regardless of their demeanor or stance. You need to help them think about your child. Develop ways to find kindness in your stance and words. Make a promise to your self and your ex-partner to not criticize them or any gifts in front of the child. Talk about the gifts each of you is giving. If there is a discrepancy in income, consider joining together on one big gift and then each of you buying your own smaller gifts.


If your ex-partner does not show any interest in participating in a positive unified form of communication for the holiday, you have to let it go. It is not yours to control. You simply need to be very consistent in your positive and open form of communicating with your child. They will bring back to you any conversations or comments from the other parent that were not positive for the child and you can then focus on your child and help her with understanding the other parent’s anger or judgmental words. You can do so without siding with the child against his other parent. Stay solid in your positive stance and the child will know that she is safe with you. He is not feeling safe with the parent who chooses to talk harshly about the other parent.


Remember to communicate with and about the grandparents!! Each parent needs to make an appropriate effort to include the grandparents in the holiday celebrations. While it is difficult to orchestrate so many calendars, there are numerous suggestions for simplifying it. Trading holidays, splitting the days of holidays (e.g., Hannukah) in half, or making holidays (e.g., Thanksgiving or Christmas) 2 days instead of one, all allow the individual parent to include their parents in the celebration with their child. Do not hesitate to talk to friends and family for further ideas.


Communication during the holidays and about the holidays is what will make the holiday joyous or frightful. All communication is working toward creating the experience you and your child wish to have for the holiday. Teach your Self and your child to know the experience you wish to have by communicating!

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


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