There are few things harder than not spending the holidays with your child, but for many parents, this is the reality during a divorce. A child can only be in so many places at one time, and when visitation rights and custody are being argued, it can simply be difficult to negotiate where your child ends up for the holidays. Here are a few tips for helping your child get through this time of year, when plans may not be set in stone.
Create traditions that can be used at home or away
Traditions can hold together a family or help encourage independent thought. This holiday season, consider creating new traditions that you can do with your child when you're together and that your child can still participate in when you're apart. For example, if you start reading a Christmas book each night, make sure you have enough for the nights when your child will be away. Then, he or she, if it's age appropriate, can still take the time to participate in that tradition while at his or her other parent's house. It's a simple act, but it can help keep your child feeling connected to you even while you're apart.
Don't lash out at your ex during the holidays
The holidays can be unpredictable, and there are sure to be times when your child has to come home later than expected or need to stay with you when the other parent can't get there on time. Remember that you're not the only one trying to adjust. Try to be somewhat lenient, especially with the busy nature of the holiday season. If you and your ex can communicate and try to work together, your child will feel less anxiety and stress.
Listen when your child wants to talk
It can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, especially since newly-divorced parents often don't have partners to help with child care or other stresses, but remember that your child has emotional needs. He or she can also become over tired from being taken from place to place, and he or she might just want to stay home or stop traveling so much. Listen to what your child has to say. You and your ex should try to work together to make your child more comfortable when possible.
These are just a few tips for the holiday season. With the right support, your family can make it through the holidays with less stress.