As we approach the Winter Holiday season, I realize we often give advice to recently divorced or separated parents on how to manage the first holiday as co-parents living in separate homes; but this year I wanted to take a moment to address some things that Teens and/or Adult Children of recently separated or divorced parents may wish to consider when planning how to navigating the holidays.
- Humor! If you can make light of the challenging situation with managing your parents recent separation or divorce, you can diffuse (at least temporarily) the sadness and anxiety.
- Be authentically you and stop pretending everything is ok. Pretending is more painful. Try and confide in someone empathetic at your family gathering—perhaps your favorite cousin or an uncle with whom you are close. You will most likely find comfort in expressing your feelings to someone outside of your immediate family.
- If you have siblings, rely on each other for emotional support. If you don’t have siblings, ask for support from a friend who has had a similar experience.
- Excuse your family members. If you are at a family gathering and your extended family members don’t ask about your other parent (not present) or don’t acknowledge the difficult situation you are going through, know that they love you dearly but are limited in their ability to expresses their feelings. They simply just don’t know how to do it. Excuse them for this.
- You are not alone. Remember almost everyone deals with some level of challenging family dynamics during the holidays – not just those with separated or divorced parents. There are plenty of other crappy family holiday showdowns going on out there too!
- Create boundaries. If you’ve moved away and are heading back to your hometown for the holidays, stay at a hotel or a friend’s home instead of with your family. You may need your space. Sometimes staying in your childhood home amidst your parents recent divorce can make the wounds worse.
- If you live on your own, consider hosting one of the holidays at your own home. Ask your family to your home for the holidays and start creating a new way of doing the holidays. Planning and preparing to host might just be the distraction you need.
We hope this helps – and Happy Holidays!