Divorcing and being divorced can be tough. Holidays can be tough enough on their own. But divorce and holidays can each be especially difficult when they occur simultaneously.
We at Wilson, Dabler & Associates, LLC view our role as counsel, facilitators, and family mediators in Belleville, IL as that of helping you and your family resolve your issues in as positive a manner as possible regardless of which path is ultimately taken toward your resolution. In that spirit we wish you well during this holiday season and offer these suggestions on how to make it count rather than writing it off.
Flexibility During First Holidays After Divorce
If you’ve never celebrated a holiday as divorced person or a divorced parent, we sympathize with your situation. Even if you’re been divorced for decades, with adult children, and STILL haven’t been able to catch the holiday spirit, there’s still hope! This part of the year can catch you off guard emotionally and in many other ways. Depending upon your baseline beliefs of what the holidays “mean,” you will likely find yourself experiencing conflicting thoughts or emotions.
Starting from a place of mental and emotional flexibility is especially important in times like these. Whether we realize it or not, holidays are built upon the meanings and emotions we associate with them. Love ’em or hate ’em, often times the strong positive or negative feelings that well up around this time of the year have roots in our personal connection (or disconnection) to ideas like “family” and “togetherness.”
Going into this season and your holiday schedule mentally prepared to have all the emotions of family and togetherness directed at you is one thing. Where it gets tough is when you are blindsided by the messages and signals that swirl around in the world during these times (songs playing in stores, holiday social media posts, etc).
We suggest heading into the holidays (whether you’re divorced or not!) with a mindset of flexibility and resiliency. Know going in, that you’re going to be faced with society’s demands of structure, and know that you get to choose how your respond.
Flexibility in Sharing Holidays After Divorce
Below are some examples of how a mindset of flexibility might aid in various holiday situation that may occur this holiday season.
- Preparation Aids Flexibility: Rather than avoiding structure or putting it off, try being proactive in planning with your ex how the parenting schedule will work. Having an agreed to plan in place leaves less room for misunderstandings.
- Focus on the Kids: It’s easy to expect to feel special during the holidays because that’s what we may have been taught when we were children. But we’re adults now. By focusing on sending only positive love to your kids and not expecting anything back, you should be able to look back on the holidays as a success.
- Flexibility Is A Great Fall-Back Position: Someone once said: plan for the best, but expect the worst. Remember that despite your best intentions plans sometimes fall apart, people change their minds, promises can be broken. This is the real test of your flexibility mindset. If you go into the holidays knowing that things can go wrong you can always plan for a graceful way to respond… or to choose to just let it slide.
- Employ Flexibility with New Tradition: You might have never considered the possibility of spending the holiday away from home. But maybe a break from the past is what you need. This might be a great time to travel abroad or volunteer to help make the holidays better for those less fortunate.
- Be Flexible About Being Peaceful: Regardless of how you view your ex-spouse and their situation, this is not the time to go on the attack, nor is this the time to be on the defensive. Jabs and insults may come your way but we recommend deciding on a holiday plan of peaceful flexibility. Resolve not to engage.
- Flexibility in the Parenting Relationship for Divorced Couples: Holiday handoffs and interactions are likely to need to occur during this time. Interactions add to possibility for conflict. Conflict between parents is known to hurt kids and during the holidays this can have a lasting impact on them. If possible always send messages through your actions of prioritizing the children.
- Flexibility in Sharing: For divorced parent’s, splitting the holidays is tough. Handoffs are tough. Timing is tough. For kids, it’s tougher. However, an environment of peace, with space to acclimate, be alone and regroup is always recommended when it’s your time with the kids. Respect their space and their timing. Make it about them. Maybe they want all the holiday trimmings, but maybe they just want to chill quietly in a restful environment.
Flexibility Reduces Injury
In life as in physical fitness, practicing flexibility can mean that by preparing for situations that are more stressful than you will likely encounter, you are better prepared to meet the real challenges of life. Holidays are like the Superbowl of personal and relationship stress. So, if you’ve already planned out how to respond to the demands, you’re less likely to get hurt and more likely to perform well.
We wish you and your family and friends, your children and your extended family a peaceful and wonderful holiday. As family law attorneys in Belleville, IL and Mediators in Belleville, IL we wish you nothing but success with your life, your relationships, your family and your health through this holiday and for the holidays of each year to come!