In a previous blog I mentioned the amount of grief one experiences when going through a divorce. It is especially important that we become aware of the grief we can feel around special days, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries etc. Holidays can be particularly difficult emotionally for some, if not most. Holidays need to be normalized as much as possible for the children of divorce.
We all keep family traditions of one kind or another around the holidays. For instance, my family gathered at my parents house on Easter Sunday for a casual dinner and at some point we engaged in an egg-pecking contest. It was a tradition an uncle of mine began decades ago and it was so much fun we just kept doing it! Seemingly small things can mean a lot to a child. Asking the child what he expects on a holiday is a good way to prepare something special for him. Divorced parents also need to keep arguing and stress out of reach of the children. Children are super sensitive to the situation and will pick up on moods easily.
Planning ahead for the day or weekend, which ever way your family celebrates, will be key to keeping a sense of peace for everyone. Being clear with family communication in advance of the holiday will help eliminate undue stress. Involving your children in the planning of the family tradition will help build trust and a sense of security. Consider what aspects of the holiday you can include children in on the planning such as, where would you like to have Easter dinner this year? When should we color eggs together? It's ok to begin new traditions as long as the children have a say and the change is not a big one.
Remember to be gentle on yourself during a holiday or special occasion. Over planning creates more stress, less is better! No matter what, if you are divorced and have children, remember to listen to them. Be present to them without trying to fix anything. A child can begin to cry for no reason or if they simply drop a book or forget something at school. Try to remember, it's not about the book. They are sad and processing many feelings when parents divorce. Love them where they are at.