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The holidays can be challenging for children of divorce. They now have to figure out how to spend time with either of their parents, without making the other jealous. They also struggle with feeling guilty when they are with one and not the other.

Here are some ideas on how to make (or break) the holiday cheer for your children as they adapt to this new family situation:

Holiday Gift-Giving

Naughty:” Don’t you dare bring gifts your mother has given you into my house and don’t you dare take my gifts to her house.” Or, “What a stupid thing for your dad’s girlfriend to buy you.”

The message you are giving your child is that despite the fact you were once in love enough with the other parent to procreate, you now despise your former spouse so much that reminders of them are not allowed in your home, even if it means ruining your child’s enjoyment of a well-intentioned gift. In this scenario, the motive is to make yourself (not your child) feel better by diminishing the gifts or other holiday observances of the other parent.

Nice: “How exciting your father gave you the X-Box that you’ve been wanting! I can’t wait to see it so you can show me how it works!” Or how about, “Of course you can take your favorite new toy to your dad’s home to show him. I bet he’ll enjoy playing with it, too! Try to remember to bring it home so you can enjoy it here after the holidays.”

The name of the game here is positive reinforcement. By sharing your child’s excitement about their new toys, you are reinforcing the fact that it is okay for them to enjoy the gifts they are given instead of fostering negative feelings about them.

Contact us at Hallier Stearns PLC for more information about how you can help your child go through the holidays as they navigate their new family situation.