Few times of the year bring back the trauma of divorce, as does the first holiday following the finalization of marital dissolution. A likely unwanted new normal seeps into celebrations, resulting in a range of emotions as a different dynamic begins.
New traditions have a way of mending the damage caused by divorce. However, proactive steps are paramount to healing.
An emphasis on kids and their well-being
Holidays, in particular, require a focus on children and their specific needs. That requires parents to actually be parents and act with maturity. Negative feelings between parents should be kept to themselves, with positivity being the setting. In the end, making the best of the new environment requires maturity and a “children-first” focus.
Prior to the festivities, both exes should take the time to discuss and create a plan, preferably at a pre-determined and neutral location away from others. Previous holiday traditions should focus on children’s happiness, allowing them to celebrate traditions. New commemorations should be discussed as well with new family members. Ultimately, allowing them to provide their ideas on plans and making them feel welcome can create a positive environment.
Acknowledging the disruption
Parents with more than one child should understand the disruption in divorce that affects children. Younger children may regress to previous patterns, while older siblings may lash out or keep emotions bottled up within them. While group settings are the norm for holiday gatherings, setting aside one-on-one time with offspring should also be a priority.
In the end, divorced spouses on the same page can make a significant difference. Holidays can bring out the best in people. However, the first gatherings following the life-changing event can also create tension that sometimes rises to the level that requires help from an experienced family law attorney.