Are you dreading the holidays while in the midst of divorce?
If you are considering or going through divorce right now
and you have kids, the holidays certainly add a layer of stress to an
already intense situation.
Family get togethers often have a way of drawing out our
insecurities because we fear what others are thinking about
us. And if we are going through divorce, we feel even more
sensitive and vulnerable about others’ opinions of us because
divorce carries with it a stigma of failure and shame.
And on top of all the extra responsibilities placed on women
to bake, buy gifts, send cards, etc., now we have to worry about
coordinating the holiday visitation schedule with the ex.
I remember how emotionally draining it was when my
daughter, Maddie, was young, and we had to split the
If it was my year to get her on Christmas Eve, I’d pick her up
that morning at 9am and have to return her at 9pm that same
day. It interrupted the Christmas Eve festivities with my family,
and there was no waking up on Christmas morning together to
open up gifts. Welcome to divorce life with kids. It was hard.
And if you had a difficult divorce like I did, every time I
saw my ex, I felt awkward and anxious, wondering whether
we’d have a venomous exchange of words. I tightened up
because I feared his judgment and hatred of me.
Our kids pick up on this animosity between us whether we
are verbally cordial or not. Please remember this key point.
Although our words can be powerful agents of harm, the
non-verbal communication and negative energy between
divorced parents that runs continually are the REAL weapons
Our children tend to illogically blame themselves for the
divorce because they don’t have the developed brains to
analyze it otherwise. And the negative impact on children
of divorce are many.
They have a 25-30% greater chance of getting involved with drugs,
alcohol, acting out, depression, anxiety, declining grades, affecting
their health, and having long-term consequences of at least
2 decades if not their lifetime. The good news is that you have more
control over this than you think.
It’s been shown again and again that it’s not divorce
necessarily that causes the damage, but the conflict
between the parents.
So please consider this fact when you want to strangle
your ex. You don’t control what THEY do, but you do
have some say in how you perceive the world and them.
The greatest gift we can give our children during this
holiday season and throughout the year is the gift of getting
Perhaps one day, you can even share the holidays together.
Perhaps everyone will feel welcome, and there will be no
awkwardness at family gatherings.
Do you want to be involved in your child’s life 20 years
from now? The decisions you make today will impact that
The holidays are already stressful enough. Let’s trust our
kiddos have enough love in their big hearts to love both
parents. Give yourself permission to let go of the reins of
control and have faith in their love for you.
Though you don’t control your ex’s actions, being the
bigger person has only to start with one of you. Why not
you? And don’t think I’m saying you should be a doormat
and not set boundaries for yourself.
Just the opposite. Setting healthy boundaries and clearly
communicating expectations in alignment with the parenting
plan, is a must. A good guideline is that when you begin to
feel resentful because you’ve conceded too much, back off.
Time to set boundaries. Boundaries bless you when they are
not rigid or thin-skinned, but can breathe with the situation.
Boundaries done right can create the harmony between the
two of you that will have the best outcome for the child.
For example, let’s say your ex is in a bind. He’s supposed
to pick up your kids at the allotted time on Thanksgiving
morning (9am). But his boss tells him the night before that he needs
to complete a project and have it on his desk by Friday morning
sharp. To make this happen, he’s going to need to work
Thanksgiving morning and is asking if he can pick up Sara and
John at noon and keep them a few hours later.
If you want to create harmony with your ex, and if he’s not
accustomed to regularly changing the schedule, and if you’ll
not feel resentful, then go for it. Be flexible—healthy-skinned
Had you said no to his request to “punish” him for leaving,
you’re now part of the problem of perpetuating conflict that
harms Sara and John. This would be a rigid boundary.
Had you said yes to your ex and he takes advantage of this
because you’re “too nice” and repeatedly asks you to break
the parenting plan because he’s forgotten how to plan, then
you have thin-skinned boundaries.
The greatest gift you can give to yourself, your kids, and
everyone affected by the divorce is harmony.
To learn how to empower yourself more during divorce and
have a much more positive, long-term impact on the kids, please
register for my free workshop on December 7th, “3 Secrets to
Survive the Stress of Divorce: Helping You and Your Kids
And please do me a favor and forward this to a woman you
know who is considering or going through divorce. Thank you!
PS: Would you like to talk? Let’s hop on the phone for
15 or so minutes and see how I can help you. Schedule
your free, Loving Self-Advocate discovery session.