BIRMINGHAM, Mich. - The holidays are a time when we slow down and spend time with our families. However, for divorced and blended families, the holidays can present unique challenges and opportunities.
It's important that parents communicate well and put the interests of their children first so that post-divorce life can be stress-free. Part of divorce includes creating a plan that states which parent has which days, holidays, weekends and general time with the children.
Alisa Peskin-Shepherd, Principal Lawyer of Transitions Legal Law Firm in Birmingham, offers tips that can help you manage post-divorce or step-family-stress during the holidays:
Be proactive! Discuss upcoming holiday events. Get an early start on coordinating your schedule with other households and family members. Stress results when families fail to plan.
Split the time evenly or share the holiday. Alternate which parent hosts each year or choose a neutral location to celebrate and enjoy a meal together. Remember that working together as a divorced family can be one of the best gifts you give your children. Remind your children that you are both there for them, even though you are not married. And always respect the other parent's right and joy in celebrating holidays with your shared children.
Avoid confrontation. Never insult or disparage the other parent. Reassure children that their parents love them and make it a point to incorporate fun activities that both parents can enjoy with the children on their own time.
Start a new tradition. Build traditions that build cohesion - and get the kids involved in creating new rituals! Traditions can provide stability and security for children. Adapt previous traditions to fit your new family structure. Travel or take day trips. Volunteer. Modify an old tradition to bring an "outsider" (i.e. step-family member) in.
Even as you keep an eye toward your children's welfare during the holidays, remember to care for yourself, too!! When the children go to their other parent, don't despair. Use that time to rest, exercise, connect with friends, and pamper yourself. Don't give in to the temptation to stress-eat! Reducing holiday stress depends upon focusing on what is good in your life.