After a divorce, the holidays may seem a lot different. You no longer have to visit the in-laws, which can be a good thing, but at the same time, you may not have the kids around. You also do not have someone to help set up the Christmas tree, decorate the house, and cook. This can really put a damper on your plans.
Your first Thanksgiving or Christmas after a divorce may not seem like anything special, but it can be. If you have children, it’s important to continue with traditions or create new ones. The holidays are more than just food and presents. Traditions play a huge role in child development. They strengthen attachments that children have with parents, grandparents, and other family members. These attachments help a child better understand their place in this world and give them a sense of who they are.
To better understand, you may want to reflect on the traditions you had growing up. What did you do for different events, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays? Did you follow any religious traditions? What did you do for Easter or Halloween? You likely did the same things every year and you probably enjoyed them. How would you feel if a certain tradition suddenly ended?
With the divorce, you are likely seeing an end to some traditions and it may make you feel sad. That is normal, but the good news is that you can always start new traditions. Even if children are not part of the equation, you can still start new traditions. This should be fun, as it should be something you enjoy doing.
Now that you know the importance of traditions, you can create your own after a divorce. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Involve the Kids
Keep the kids in mind when creating new traditions. It may be a good idea to keep some traditions and start some new ones. This will allow you to make new memories and give the kids something to look forward to. But ask them what they want to do. How do they want to spend their time with you? What do they want to do with the other parent? Let them have their say, but you do not have to agree with something if it sounds too outlandish.
Do Something You Want to Do
Did you always have to make sacrifices in your marriage when it came to the holidays? Many people do. They claim that their spouses always held them back and they were hardly ever able to do anything they wanted. That is the nice thing about divorce—you are on your own now. Your ex-spouse can do what they want, and you are free to do what you want. So if you have always wanted to have Christmas on the beach or celebrate Thanksgiving with Chinese food instead of a turkey, then you are free to do so.
Let the Extended Family Know
Sometimes traditions get derailed because some family members get offended. They may be upset because you or the children are not spending as much time with the family for the holidays. However, it is up to you to let them know that you and your children will be engaging in new holiday traditions and that they need to accept it. They should not be badmouthing your choices. At the same time, you should try to have the children continue to engage in traditions with the extended family. Again, this is about forming attachments.
Many of us have family members who are negative and have nothing nice to say. They may not be approving of your divorce, which can lead to tension during the holidays. If you have family members like this, stay away from them. You want the holidays to be as stress-free as possible as you transition from married life to single life, so surround yourself with positive people who want you to be happy.
Take Care of Yourself
No matter what new tradition you decide to try, it is important to take care of yourself during the holidays. While Thanksgiving and Christmas tend to involve a lot of yummy foods, try to exercise self-control. Avoid gorging on junk foods. Keep up with exercise and make sure to eat a balanced diet complete with healthy foods. This will help you feel good about yourself, which will make you feel uplifted instead of sad during the holidays.
Be Cordial to Your Ex-Spouse
The holidays are not the time to create drama, so be nice to your ex-spouse if you see him or her. Avoid badmouthing your ex in front of others, especially the children. Create a positive tone for the holidays. Even if you are still angry with the other parent, do not express this in front of the children. They are likely having a hard enough time with the holidays after the divorce, so the less stress you can create, the better.
Seek Legal Help
The holidays are a good time to start new traditions after a divorce. While some people do not particularly care about traditions, they can be helpful for children as they adjust to a divorce.
Need help dealing with child custody and holiday schedules following a divorce? Broward County divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler can help eliminate the stress involved with the holidays. Our team has more than 30 years of experience. Call (954) 346-6464 or fill out the online form to schedule a consultation.