Whether you and your child’s parent have been apart for a month or 10 years, there are issues that continually rear their ugly heads, fighting over time, presents, Santa, etc.
To help you manage and thrive for the holidays:
1. Plan Ahead- December 23rd is not the time to start planning Christmas. If you do not have a schedule in place, start talking about it now. If you cannot engage in a civil conversation (and I mean, actually talk), seek the help of a third party or polite, to the point, electronic communication.
2. What really matters to you? – Does your family have a big Christmas Eve celebration? If the other parent is more of a Christmas Day person, shouldn’t this be easy to work out? If you both like the same time, alternate (odd/even years). This way, you are only unhappy half of the time, and can figure out new traditions when you have your less preferred time.
3. “Yes, Virginia, [is] there a Santa Claus” ? To paraphrase the iconic New York Sun article, is it the holy grail to see your child open up presents first thing Christmas morning? If they are 13, probably not, 3, maybe. If that is the case, can you actually share an hour as a family (how long does it actually take to rip open presents?) to be with your child during those precious years?
4. Church- I use to be able to resolve holiday disputes by when families attended church. Then people stopped attending church but were embarrassed. Now many people do not attend church and are not embarrassed, so I’ve lost my leverage, but why not celebrate a religious holiday by attending a religious service? It may teach your child why you are going through all of this hoopla, and it is lovely way to share the holiday. And- a family can attend together, even if there are new significant others (open to all!)
5. Volunteer- What better way to mark “good will to all [wo]men?
6. “Bad Talk”- Do not spend your holiday time bad mouthing the other parent or letting your friends or family do it? Your child deserves happy memories, not ones clouded by bickering and gossip.
7. Presents- Despite our consumer driven culture, less can still be more. What about investing in an activity or weekend away rather than competing for how much cardboard you can use? If you are behind on support, make yourself current. Feeding your child is an obligation, gifts are an extra.
8. Think about your child- We only have one chance in our lifetime to raise our children. The gifts of temperance, forgiveness, mercy, and kindness are priceless and enduring.
Best wishes for all the best in the New Year!
December 2019 Margaret Tabak