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How to Help Children of Divorce Through the Holidays

December 31, 2015
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While the winter and the holidays are often jokingly referred to as “cuffing season,” the truth to that statement can make this time of year especially difficult for both divorcing partners and their loved ones. The holidays are the time of year where nostalgia, family, and togetherness are not only desired, they are the norm. While many families gather lovingly to feast, exchange presents, and spend quality time together, children of divorce may get a different experience, and the effect of such can be emotionally palpable.

legal seperationDuring the holidays, children of divorce and legal seperation often have to split their time between both parents. This interruption of routine can be difficult for a child and can make them feel burdensome, confused, and sad.

Additionally, the perceived time of togetherness might make them feel as if they are missing out on something, and it may provoke a period of mourning for children who have not properly coped with their parents’ separation and divorce.

Considering roughly 42% of all marriages end in divorce and nearly 60% of second marriages end in divorce, this is a sad but common theme among American families during the holidays.

Luckily, there are ways for co-parents to make this time of year easier for their families. Here are a few tips:

    • Keep communication open with your children. Ask them how they are feeling often, and make opportunities to connect, such as meal times and special activities.


    • If you are involved in a new relationship, concentrate on the child. Remember, the holiday is not all about you. According to experts, it can take 3-5 years for a child to feel a sense of normalcy after a divorce. Interrupting routine by introducing a partner at such a delicate time may be harmful for your child.


    • If you’re in the process of going through a legal separation or divorce, seek mediation for the most peaceful split possible. Around 11% of custody cases are decided during mediation, and this is a crucial time to sort out differences that could very well effect your child’s future.


  • Consider taking a non-traditional approach to the holidays; if both parents typically celebrate the day on the 25th, is it possible to move celebrations to the 26th this year?

Divorce is going to be difficult on children no matter what; however, making efforts to improve the situation will often make for a much better holiday season for everyone involved.

Ken Phillips
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