Divorce and Christmas... Can You Still Have Happy Holidays?

Dad and daughter with Santa hats

The holiday season can always be uncomfortable when you have to spend extended time with in-laws or other family members. Add a divorce into the mix and it’s just a given that someone is going to be feeling very uncomfortable, right? True, a divorce can turn Christmas into an Unhappy Holiday.

The danger is that the reasons for and the emotions surrounding the divorce can re-emerge and spoil the holiday for everyone. If that happens, there is a good chance that the next time there is an important event someone will not be invited to attend. And no one wants to be the one that isn’t invited. It doesn’t have to be that way.

So how do some divorced families manage the holidays without it turning into an Unhappy Holiday?

First, think about the kids: whether they are young or adult, they are still your children and they deserve to see their parents behave at their best. Many people say they would take a bullet to save their children, but they must also ask themselves if they are also willing to set their own feelings aside for the emotional sake of their children. Most parents, when they really think about that, and are mindful in their actions and re-actions, are willing and want to do that. You want your family to have precious memories of the holidays that they can recall long into the future—you can give them that, even if you have had a divorce—you have that power, if you choose to take it.

Second, do mental practice of what you should do when you are in an uncomfortable situation: Imagine ahead of time the situations you may find yourself in and have a mental recorded reaction you can draw on when that temptation arises for you to react badly. You know you don’t want 96 year old Aunt Edna’s slobbery kiss on your cheek, do you? But you would never think about telling her that or acting ugly and turning away when she offers it. You may be cringing inside but you smile on the outside. You know how to do this—you have been doing this at family functions all of your life. You just have to think about it and substitute your ex or his or her new significant other in your mental practice about how to deal with whatever they do or say that gets under your skin. You will be so proud of yourself at the end of the day and for the days after.

Third, remember, you are modeling for your family, children and grandchildren: Statistically, 50% of those nieces and nephews, children and grandchildren will also go through their own divorce. Your actions will stay with them for the rest of their lives as a teaching moment of how a person conducts themselves in this situation, and whether they ever tell you or not, they will be forever grateful for your leadership in this difficult life situation. You have spent your life trying to be a good example for these folks: now is your moment to show what you are really made of—you can do it. This may be the greatest holiday gift you could ever give to your family. Seize that opportunity.

Collaborative Divorce is a method of divorce in Texas that works to assure that relationships with children (both young and grown) can be maintained. Children want to have a relationship with both parents, even if they are living separately. The Collaborative Divorce process allows the divorcing couple to create a settlement that is in the best interests of everyone involved. It is a process that enables both parents to be present at major events, including Christmas, weddings, and graduations. While the stories are told about spending Christmas Eve with one parent and Christmas Day with another, it is not unusual for divorced couples that used the collaborative process to spend Christmas Day in the same house.

No one can promise that this will be the end result of your divorce case. But instead of fighting every step of the way in a divorce that goes to court and leaves permanent scarring for everyone involved, wouldn’t it be better to consider an option that would bring peace to everyone involved? That peace can come from handling the divorce collaboratively.

Tracey Justice is a Family Law Attorney in Dallas Fort Worth with the Justice Law Firm. The Justice Law Firm is an advocate for their clients both in courtroom and at the negotiation table. For more information about collaborative divorce or to schedule an initial consultation about your family law matter call today.