Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon do a terrific job portraying the struggles of divorced families during the holiday season in the movie Four Christmases. However, it's often not as comical as it seems, especially for young children attempting to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year while coping with the realization that they no longer have both parents under one roof. It is important to remember that no matter how hard this time of year is for you, that your children are most likely having an even more tumultuous experience. So what can you do to avoid young (or grown) children from wishing they could fast forward through the holidays?
As a parent, it is essential to continuously reinforce in your child's mind that their other parent loves them. Remind them how important it is to spend time with both parents during the holidays. However difficult it may seem, it is your duty as a parent to hold back any hurt feelings, disgust, or anger. No matter what, when you are in front of your children you must remember that you are talking about their mother or father. No matter what you say, no matter what the other parent has done in the past, it can never change the fact that they are the mother or father of your child. Talk to your friends, talk to your siblings, talk to your therapist, talk to your attorney, but do not soil your child's perception of their parent, no matter how hurt or betrayed you may feel. It should be your goal to help your children through the divorce as calmly as possible.
Remember that your children feel guilt as well. Your children will feel bad leaving you home alone on Christmas Eve to go with their other parent. Your children will feel sad that one of their parents is not there on Christmas morning. It is your job as a parent to keep those feelings and anxieties at ease. Continue telling your children that you love them and remind them of the things you will be doing while they are with the other parent. Assure them that you are happy and you will have a great holiday season, no matter how you may actually feel inside. Remind them that their other parent loves them, and that they should not feel guilty for going to spend time with their other parent. In the long run things will calm down, things will settle, and the goal is to get through the hard times as quickly and painlessly as possible. Do not say or do things you will regret in five years. Do not say or do things that will harm the perception or relationship your child has with you or your ex-spouse.
The holidays can be a hard time with or without divorce. But the way you choose to handle the season can make all the difference in your children's lives far into the future. Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon attempted to escape Christmas as adults because of the bad memories and heartbreak experienced during childhood. Do not do that to yourself or your children. Make memories, be respectful, and put your children first. The best gift you can give a child of divorce is an amicable, guilt and fight free holiday season.
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