As a divorced parent, the winter holiday season can be one of the most difficult to handle with your ex. Not only can the holidays bring up a lot of emotions about the past and present, but it’s a time when you and your ex may want to spend as much time as you can with your kids and your divorce makes that difficult. Here are some tips for splitting up the holidays with your kids and making the most of the time you have together:
Stick to Your Schedule
When you are co-parenting with your ex spouse, scheduling is everything. Not only is sticking to your schedule most likely part of your custody agreement, but it provides routine and normalcy for your children. Even if your ex has recently remarried and wants to extend his or her holiday time to incorporate his new in-laws, it’s important to stick to the schedule.
If you’re open to flexibility, talk with your child and see what he or she wants to do and don’t try to persuade him or her to make a decision based upon your personal feelings. If changes are made to your schedule, make sure that it’s balanced during another holiday season or another time of the year. Additionally, don’t forget to keep your kid in the loop about any changes that are made.
Practice Gratitude and Positivity
The holidays can be a difficult time of year for everyone, not just divorcees. Although you may have less than pleasant thoughts about your ex and your situation, it’s important to make your children the center of your joy and attention. When you spend time with your kids, practice gratitude and try to be positive. Avoid bad mouthing your ex or getting in an argument over the phone or face-to-face if your kids are present. Remember, you may not love (or even like) your ex anymore, but your child still loves his or her other parent; respect his or her feelings.
Create Your Own Tradition
If you only have your child during part of the holiday season, make the most of your time together. Did you used to have a tradition of decorating the tree or lighting the menorah, as a family? Just because your family size has changed, it doesn’t mean you can’t continue traditions. In fact, many kids get excited knowing that they have special traditions with each parent.
Competition between parents is ugly and can be damaging for your kids. If you are a gift giving family, don’t try to outdo one another. A good idea, if you and your ex are amicable, is to see if you can purchase something big (like a bike or computer), together. Don’t try to be the “better” parent, you are wonderful just as you are.
Take Care of Yourself
When your children are spending holiday time with your ex, don’t forget to take care of yourself. The holidays can feel really lonely, but if you surround yourself with support and spend time with family and friends, you are less likely to feel alone and sad about your situation.
Go to Article
Whether you and your spouse recently divorced over the summer or you’re just trying to adjust to a new school year after a summer with your children, going back to school can be a difficult and stressful transition for both you and your kids. Despite the feelings you have for your ex or how the two of you get along, healthy co-parenting should be one of your number priorities. Here are some tips for adjusting to a new school year:
Meeting the Teacher
If you have a younger child, grade school aged in particular, it’s a good idea to meet with his or her teacher prior to the start of the school year. Whether you have a parent teacher conference or request a short meet and greet, take the opportunity to speak with your child’s teacher about your situation (divorced and/or shared custody). Even if you’ve been divorced for a few years, your child may still be adjusting to the change and as a result may “act out” or have some emotional challenges. There’s no need to give specific details about the divorce or use it as an opportunity to trash talk your ex, just talk to your child’s teacher about details that are pertinent to your child.
If you want to be in the know about important school events and information from the teacher, you are responsible for sharing your contact information with the school and teacher. When you meet with your child’s teacher, make it clear that you would like to receive information and be included on any e-mails, etc. that are sent out to the other parent. Do not rely on or expect that your ex will speak on your behalf. Additionally, avoid putting your child in the middle (and responsible for playing messenger) between you and your ex or with his or her teacher.
Work on Transitions and Routines
Divorce can be difficult on everyone, but it’s important to think about your child and how he or she may be feeling, especially when a new schedule change occurs such as embarking on a new school year. Whether you share custody with your ex during the week or on the weekend, always make sure that your child knows the schedule. If your child is involved with extracurricular activities and your ex shares carpooling duties with you, make sure your child knows who will be picking him or her up. Give your child information that will make him or her feel in control and what to expect.
Often times, once a custody agreement is put into place there’s little room for flexibility or change, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be a little flexible. If your child, for example, had a tough day at school and wants to take to the other parent, allow him or her to do so or even suggest a Skype call. Encourage your child to have open communication with you about anything and if necessary, consider having your child attend a support group specifically designed for children of divorce or help him or her find someone he or she can talk to about the divorce (if it’s not you).
Go to Article
Divorce is a process that often stirs up a variety of bittersweet emotions. For couples without children, once the divorce is finalized there’s rarely a need to stay in contact and it’s easier to move forward in life. However, a divorcing couple with children often face the challenge of how to co-parent without letting their personal feelings and issues interfere with raising their children with their ex. If you are struggling to have a healthy co-parenting relationship with your ex, here are some tips to ensure that your child’s well-being remains a priority:
The Benefits of Healthy Co-Parenting
Parents make their children one of their top priorities and while most parents are well-intentioned, the unfortunate reality behind divorce is that some children end up feeling tossed around, split in two, and are forced to act as a mediator between feuding parents. While the moments during and shortly after a divorce can be rocky, it’s important to think about how healthy co-parenting can benefit children. If you and your ex have both been given shared custody of your children, keep in mind some of the benefits of co-parenting:
- Children develop feelings of stability and are less likely to feel abandoned.
- Children are allowed to be children, rather than a social and emotional companion for their parents.
- Children can continue to have a good relationship with both of their parents and parents are able to focus on strengthening and improving their relationship with their children.
Be Available to Your Child
A divorce can leave you struggling with some intense emotions and while it’s important to work through some of your issues, make sure that you are always available to your child. Although it’s likely that you and your ex already sat down and explained the divorce to your child, don’t assume that all of his or her questions are answered and even though you may want to move forward, understand that your child may need more time. When talking with your child about the divorce, keep it neutral, don’t trash talk your ex, and focus on how you can help your child with his or her feelings.
The Importance of Communicating
While the last thing you may want to do is keep in contact with your ex on a regular basis, communication is key in regards to your child. Don’t make major decisions for or about your child (such as education, religion, extracurricular activities) without talking with your ex first. Failure to communicate can be toxic for your co-parenting relationship and will ultimately affect the wellbeing of your child. Keep your conversations with your ex professional, stay on task, focus on your child, and avoid using language that sounds accusatory.
Be on the Same Page
You and your ex may disagree on many things, but in order to have a healthy co-parenting relationship, the two of you need to agree on things related to your child. Even if you disagree with what your ex is saying, hear him or her out before arguing. While it’s likely that you won’t agree on everything, try to find a middle ground and be consistent. Many divorced couples end up competing with one another and try to be a “good” or “fun” parent. Keep in mind that children do better with a routine and if your child is sharing time between you and your ex, a healthy co-parenting relationship will benefit your child as he or she work through and adjusts to his or her new life transition.
Go to Article
Divorce is an extremely emotionally complex situation. You may been through a trial, custody proceedings, fights, and many other tribulations. You need to gather strength everywhere you can to keep from being overwhelmed and broken by the pain. Here are 5 things to do after your divorce to keep on top of your life.
Focus on the Positive
As comedian Louis CK said “Divorce is always good news. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce.” His joke is effective because it contains an important truth: you got divorced for a reason. Be thankful that you no longer have to put up with whatever it was that was keeping the two of you so unhappy. Your life is yours alone now. Did you hate the music he listened to? The music is gone now. Did you practically have a stroke at the sound of her sister’s voice? Her sister’s voice is gone now. There are lots of good things about being single. Take advantage of them.
Cultivate Close Friendships
You’ve probably already done some of this. Don’t let it end. Your friends have been there for you through this whole thing. Let them know you appreciate it. Stay close. Go out to fun events. Relive your youth (although make sure you don’t get sucked into a reckless midlife crisis). Isolation is dangerous for anyone, especially for someone like you, who has recently gone from constant companionship to your current state.
Keep Your Family Around
Like your friends, your family have likely been on your side through all of this. Divorce means losing a family member. Keep the others close. In most cases, your family knew you before you met your ex, and now they’ll know after you’re through. Strong familial connections can keep you from becoming overwhelmed by loneliness and stress.
If Possible, Maintain Friendly Ties With Your Ex
This is, of course, not always realistic advice. Again, the two of you split for a reason. But if your ex is a decent, tolerable person, you would do well to maintain a cordial relationship. This applies doubly if you’ve got kids together. The kids will be happy to see the two of you at peace, and this could serve as an opportunity to teach them important life lessons about conflict resolution. Even if you don’t have kids, a friendly relationship will keep the memories you built together from being too painful.
Make Another Change
If your new life is too similar to your old one, it might remind you too often of the old days. Maybe now’s a great opportunity to make that move you always wanted to, or to change careers, go back to school. You probably based many life decisions around your previous relationship; take a fresh look and see what’s available to you now.
Don’t Give Up!
You’ll feel pain. Depression may rear its ugly head from time to time. You’ll falter. When it happens, don’t give up. You’re not a failure just because things didn’t work out. You’ve made a bold decision, and you’ve stuck to it. Keep moving forward.
Go to Article