By: Leslie Barrows
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Holiday Divorce Tips: Making new traditions and keeping a sense of family
Divorce and family law matters can add pressure and anxiety during the already stressful holiday season. One constant in our lives is change. We all think back to the best years and holidays we shared with our families and friends, and even when you reunite the same people and recreate holiday traditions from year to year, we all get one year older every year and every holiday season is unique. When we recognize every new holiday season allows us an opportunity to make new memories, we can open the door with a sense of optimism and anticipation of great things to come.
The following list of suggestions can make the holidays easier on everyone involved in divorce and family law matters who still need to wear a smile.
- Plan and prepare for the anxiety moments. Hiding from and ignoring upcoming holidays and spending time in solitude might sound easier than seeing people, but it can only lead to self-pity and when drugs and alcohol are available, some really negative outcomes are possible. Instead, make your plans well ahead of time to know exactly who will be going where, what may be discussed and how people may react to news about the divorce or related matter, which often involves children. Make a list of all the possible questions people could ask, and write down some simple answers to satisfy others, acknowledging them and their concern for the situation, and then moving on to another topic. By preparing for anxiety ahead of time, the actual holiday event might not be as scary.
- Remaining flexible in scheduling is important to ensuring people get to where they need to be without any unnecessary confrontation. Most of the time a temporary orders hearing in a divorce or child custody matter already states which parent will have what time with children. Prepare to tell yourself and children that the spirit of the holiday and what it means is the important part, and the exact date upon which everyone celebrates is flexible. Children are happy when their parents are happy, and nothing gets in the way of happiness more than a battle over holiday logistics.
- Creating new and special traditions can be a fun way to create something new, something special that can be enjoyed by parents and children when the traditions and conditions of past years are no longer possible. Focus more on creating a new tradition or activity as opposed to when it takes place, because schedules and availabilities can change. Even the choice of food at holiday celebrations can be part of a new tradition, a new family history.
- Celebrate holidays together as a co-parenting family, with your ex-spouse and children. If it is possible that mom, dad and kids can all be together in the same room without trauma, a civilized holiday event can give everyone involved a sense of unity and awareness of who stands where and how interfamily relationships work now and in the future. The “family” celebration does not need to be the focal point of the holiday, it can be a new tradition, like going out together for a move, bowling or a sporting event; neutral locations often keep us all on our best behavior.
- Spend more time with your friends and other family members when the kids are not there. Sitting home alone on holidays is healthy if that is what makes you really feel the best. It is normal to not want to be a burden on others, but reaching out to other people and friends and asking them what they are doing for the holidays might lead to an invitation to do something fun and take attention away from any holiday awkwardness.
- Take some great pictures of you and your family and share them with others to let people know things are okay, even if you have to fake it. You and your other family members can focus on a picture and say how good everyone looks and that may be easier than digging down to talk about sensitive topics and risk upsetting someone.
- Make a list of statements to read and consider in the face of anxiety over the holidays:
- The holidays are not about you. Everyone is trying to get through them;
- The holidays are not about winning or losing compared to your ex-spouse;
- This holiday will never be like the last nor exactly like future holidays;
- Before you know it, the dinners and celebrations are over and a new day comes.
The attorneys at The Barrows Firm wish everyone a happy and civil holiday season, filed with joy and hope. We all understand these times may be difficult and feeling like a real person is important. Hopefully these holiday tips are helpful, even if reading them makes you think, “I can do this!”
If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located downtown Fort Worth at 500 East Belknap Street, near the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Tarrant County Family Law Center.