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How To Make The Season Happier For Children Of Divorced Parents (11/08/2006)
The holidays can be stressful on families - even more so for children of divorced parents. For many, the picturesque holiday of families celebrating with food and gifts, with mom, dad, son, and daughter joined under one roof has been displaced.

Today, over one-third of all marriages end in divorce as reported by the National Center for Health Statistics. Many children now celebrate their holidays under several different roofs and possibly with more than one mom or dad, creating the potential for the holidays to be difficult and stressful times for children and parents of divorce.

These modern times have delivered to us the alternative family, including but not limited to ex-spouses, step-parents, and step-siblings. During the holiday season, children and families may experience confusion, distress, or tension.

In addition to the typical holiday stress, children of divorced families can be under even more anxiety and grief. Often, the holidays are a time for reminiscing. Many children find it difficult to cope with memories of when their parents were together. Marriage and family therapists can help parents and their children create a season that reignites a sense of excitement, celebration, and joy.

Here are some tips from The California Association of

Marriage and Family Therapists to help these children enjoy the holidays:

* Stick with a routine. It is important for children to have a sense of stability and predictability during the holiday season.

* Make a plan. Communicate to your ex-spouse or co-parent beforehand about holiday plans and schedules with your children. For instance, one option can be Christmas Eve with one parent and Christmas Day with another. Also, it is important for co-parents to put their schedules in writing, perhaps facilitated by a divorce lawyer, so there is no confusion about who gets which holiday and when.

* Orchestrate the giving of gifts. Know what the other parent is giving your child and give your gifts accordingly. Avoid double gifts and ones that "out-do" the other parent.

* Above all, let children love their parents. Allow your children to keep in touch with your co-parent even while in your care.

The holidays can be a time for feasting, laughter, and happy memories. Remember, as a parent, you have the responsibility to create for your child a most joyful holiday season, and with the proper support system and professional help, you and your family can celebrate the season with ease and enjoyment.

If you feel you are unable to communicate with your ex-spouse or relatives, family therapy may be the solution. Therapy can address and modify constraints, help family members communicate with one another in a productive way, and develop strategies to solve problems more effectively. 

 

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