Coping with separation and divorce is magnified by the holiday season. Divorced people often approach this time of year with panic, sadness, and dread. Although there is no magic cure for the holiday blues, here are five more practical tips for surviving divorce and the holidays.
- Don’t spend the holidays alone. During the holidays, it can be tempting to go into withdrawal—especially if your ex-spouse has the kids. Resist the temptation. There’s no reason to punish yourself. While some alone time might be just what the doctor ordered, make an effort to get out of the house and spend time with others.
- Develop an attitude of gratitude. An attitude of gratitude will positively impact the way in which you view the world—not just during the holidays, but year-round. Be thankful for the blessings in your life that are good and right and true: health, family, children, friends, pets, shelter, food, a job, freedom, self-esteem, and new beginnings.
- Reality does not always have to bite. For most people, separation and divorce bring increased responsibilities along with decreased financial resources and free time. Factor these new realities into your holiday season planning. When you do, your expectations about yourself, your family, and the holidays will be more realistic.
- Flexibility is the watchword. Holidays don’t have to occur only on the specific day. For example, Christmas could happen the Saturday before December 25th so you can celebrate it with your children. Most kids would enjoy celebrating double the holidays—one with each parent. And even though you may be apart on the actual holiday, there are many ways to communicate with your children. Send them a text or email. Call or Skype them. But do not infringe on the other parent’s time with the kids – especially if you’ll see them soon. Most important, make sure your social media holiday posts reinforce your reputation as a great co-parent.
- Use the New Year as a starting point for a new life. A new year is just around the corner. Get your head in the game. Develop mental toughness. Be resolute. Do things differently. Try new activities. Be active. Small, deliberate steps lead to greater empowerment and positive change. Check your own sadness, anger, or loss. Your children deserve their holiday celebrations even if you feel cheated out of yours. Show them that life goes on and you can still experience joy. This will give your children permission to celebrate and be joyful as well.
Sonya B. Coffman is a Board Certified divorce, custody, and family lawyer in Beaumont, Texas. Ms. Coffman has been a CPA and trial lawyer for over 27 years. She understands the impact a divorce can have on families during the holiday season.