The holidays are supposed to be times when families come together and celebrate by eating family meals, participating in family traditions and just enjoying each other’s company. However, for families that have been through a recent divorce, the holidays can bring on a lot of stress and anxiety. This is especially true for the teenagers (and other children) caught in the middle of the divorce. Therefore, divorced parents need to do as much as possible to help make the holidays as pleasant for their teens as possible.
Plan It Out: One of the best ways to help your teens feel as if they are in a stable environment at the holidays is to plan out the details in advance. It’s very hard for teens, and younger children, to go from a stable family environment to a split family where they’re spending their time going from house to house. Therefore, it’s best for divorced parents to take the time to plan out how the holidays will work out. Then, discuss the plans with your kids in advance…let them know what’s going on.
Keep Family Traditions: If possible, work with your estranged spouse to keep certain family traditions. After all, it’s not your teen’s fault that the marriage didn’t work out. Your teen will feel torn between the two of you. So, if your family always did something special at the holidays such as picking out a Christmas tree or going to see a movie together, then try to continue to do those things. It may not be possible, depending on your relationship with your ex, but if it is – then do it for your kids.
Create New Traditions: It’s important that you help your teen move on after the divorce, especially during the holidays. They need to understand that things aren’t going to be the same, but that doesn’t mean the holidays can’t be enjoyable when you all are together. One of the best ways to do this is to start new holiday traditions. Maybe it’s time to start making the Thanksgiving Day meal with your teenage daughter or start hanging Christmas lights with your teenage son. Whatever the new tradition is, make sure you make a big deal about it and make it special.
Be Respectful: The holidays are supposed to be times of joy and love. Although those are the last two things you may be feeling at the holidays towards your ex, he or she will always be a part of your life because of your kids. So, make sure you don’t down your ex in front of your teen during this time (actually at any time) because your ex is still their dad or mom. When you are in contact with your ex, try to be as mature and respectful as possible. The goal is to show your teen that even though his or her parents are divorced, they are still adults and can be civil. This will also help your teen realize that he or she is welcome to talk about the other parent in front of you without worrying whether or not you’ll be mad.