Just when you think everyone is comfortable with the custody agreement, the holidays come around again. We asked an expert for tips on surviving the annual dilemma.
Rachel Sarah, a.k.a. Single Mom Seeking, knows firsthand how difficult it is to deal with broken families over the holidays -- Rachel's ex stepped out on her and her daughter on Thanksgiving day eight years ago. She offers us these great tips for surviving holiday custody dilemmas:
- Keep the focus on the children. Remember that
the holidays really are about your child. They may bring up
anxiety, stress, and resentment for you, but it's important to unload
these emotions on your peers and confidants privately and keep those feelings out
of your children's earshot.
- Try to manage at least a little bit of "togetherness."
It is ideal for your children to have both of you together at some
point during the festivities. For example, if you have custody of your
kids this Thanksgiving, you might invite your ex for a glass of wine or
for dessert. It may only be a half hour, but if you set your feelings
aside for that short time, it will mean a lot to your child.
- Don't get hung up on what's typical -- make new traditions.
Whatever shape and form the holiday now takes, it's important to be
flexible. For instance, my ex isn't even in the picture. What matters to
my daughter is that she gets to be with both of her grandparents, her
aunt, and her mom -- that she gets to have all of her family in one
room. I'm the one who had to let go of the idea of what's
"traditional." The holidays are not about husband and wife. They are
about family, and sometimes families create new traditions.
- Have the children involved in the planning.
There are art projects like making ornaments or seating cards that
children can help create. This can also help you take the focus off of
your own stress and create new traditions. Have them help plan the menu
and maybe help you cook, too. Also, make sure they are comfortable with
the plan. Even if your children are young, you can give them the
outline of the day so that there are no surprises.
- Keep the other parent in mind. For example, if you have your child for Christmas Eve, don't bring them home at midnight. And talk to the other parent about what gifts they are giving. You don't want to "out-give" the other parent, or give your child the same present.
Rachel adds that you should expect your child to have a meltdown. The holidays are overstimulating for you, so imagine what it's like for a child. She says remember not to take it personally. If your child has a tantrum or breaks down, just hold them close and let them have their feelings. She also wants to assure everyone that every year it DOES get easier!
How do you deal with custody issues around the holidays?
|Rachel Sarah, a.k.a. "Single Mom Seeking" blogs at SingleMomSeeking.com and co-founded SingleMommyHood.com, the first-ever website to offer "a whole new way to think about life."|