The end of their parent’s marriage is a traumatic event for children. These innocent bystanders had no say in the life-altering event. Like everyone involved, they feel a sense of loss. In the aftermath, parents have the responsibility to help them heal during and following divorce proceedings.
Adapting to a new normal
The coming holidays will likely serve as a reminder of “what was” and “what could have been.” Just as divorced parents are supposed to look out for the best interests of their children during the marital dissolution process, that approach is equally, if not more critical, during what might be a not-so-happy holiday season for kids feeling the sense of loss.
Specific “strategies” can ease the stress of significant change for the kids. Some couples postpone divorce proceedings until after the holidays, choosing to focus on the best interests of their children. However, for everyone involved, the sooner they end the marriage, the better.
In a perfect world, separated or divorced parents should be under one roof, hopefully without the hint of conflict, instead of dividing up the holiday. If possible, both parents should be there to wake up the children on Christmas morning. The only caveat is the ability to get along. The season is difficult enough for everyone. Children should take priority over emotions.
Many couples just can’t be in the same room together. New traditions outside the home, such as community service, can help the children create new memories that can help them recover from the loss of former holiday habits.
Extended family members are also impacted by divorce and feel the significant and traumatic “new normal” during the holiday season. Grandparents, in particular, suffer the most from the change due to their desire to see their grandchildren during an important time as they have in previous years.
The winter solstice is dark enough for children without the other darkness that comes with the aftermath of divorce and the disruption it causes for kids.