“Dear Santa. For Christmas, I would like Mommy and Daddy to stop fighting and get back together again.” This kind of wish can be heart-rending for a parent. Unfortunately, if you are in the middle of a divorce, your child will not go their wish. Well, not all of it.
The first Christmas after you decide to divorce will be the hardest for you and your kids. With the split still fresh, it is understandable that you and your spouse may still be angry with each other, yet that anger will not do anyone any good, and it could do your child a lot of harm.
What can you do to make Christmas “normal” for your child?
There is little point in pretending everything is fine and playing happy families when your child can see it is not. So rather than telling them the holidays will be “normal,” what you can do, is use this holiday season to set the tone for the future.
Christmas is a big deal for most kids, so if you can show them that it is still possible to enjoy it after separating, it reassures them that the rest of the year may be OK too.
Think about how you want future holidays to look: Can you find a way for your child to spend time with each of you, or is it better to alternate? For example, your child spends Christmas with you this year and your spouse next year.
Consider family differences: Let’s say your family has Latino roots and traditionally celebrates on the night of the 24th. Your spouse’s side of the family focuses more on the 25th. Can you work it so that your child gets two celebrations? Think about where it will be more fun for your child each day. Consider how other family members will feel if your child misses out on specific dates.
What is even more important than the logistics is how your child sees you behave toward each other. You can come up with the best arrangement in the world, but if your child catches you shouting at each other, that will ruin their day, and they may come to associate the holiday season with unhappiness rather than festivity.