adult children of divorce

Holiday Tips For Adult Children Of Divorce

adult children of divorce

 

Every year many adult children of divorce have to make a decision: Should they spend Christmas morning at Dad’s and Christmas afternoon at Moms? Should they spend Thanksgiving Day at both homes so as not to offend either parent? For some, it comes down to avoiding the holidays altogether. It may make more sense for them to plan a trip to a far-off location or to visit a friend’s home.

Most of the adult children of divorce that I know feel that the holidays trigger negative childhood memories, or they may feel stuck in the middle between their parents’ contrasting worlds.

Kendra, a 20-something child of divorce put it like this: “If I’m honest with myself, at the end of each holiday I feel much like I did when I was a kid, split between two houses and trying to make both sides of my family happy.”

For adults who grew up in high-conflict divorced families, the holidays can be an especially challenging time. It can make adults feel like children again, torn between two parents, not wanting to disappoint or hurt either one’s feelings.

Although adults who grew up in divorced homes know they are allowed to choose how they spend their time, they may feel a sense of obligation to spend adequate time with all members of their families, which in many cases is impractical or impossible. In the end, if members of a divorced family feel anxious, let down, or upset about how they spend their holidays, nobody wins.

Holiday Tips for Adult Children of Divorce

1. Change Your Perspective

Even though your parents divorced years ago, the holidays may be a reminder that your family is not the way you would have wanted or imagined it to be. As an adult, it’s important to remember that you can control your thoughts and actions, and you are not the same person as when your parents first split up. Thankfully, neither are they.

When you start feeling anxious about Thanksgiving and Christmas rolling around, it may be comforting to realize that your divorced family hasn’t cornered the market on dysfunction. There are plenty of people who haven’t been touched by divorce but are dealing with equal, if not harder, realities.

Families can be affected by death, disease, addiction, poverty, and a number of other problems. Remembering that you are not alone and that others face challenges far worse than you, can help change your perspective.

2. Learn to Forgive

It’s amazing how even when a divorce is many years behind you, it is an event that can cast a dark shadow if you allow it to do so. Dealing with divorced parents and stepparents as an adult never really becomes “easy.” After a while, it just feels like the new normal.

However, when you make a decision to let go of past hurt and resentment, and when you realize your parents should not be in debt to you for any decisions they may have made, it can be incredibly freeing. The holidays provide an opportunity to put this mindset into practice and to move toward forgiving your parents.

Forgiveness is not about condoning or accepting your parents’ actions, but it can give them less power over you. It can help you accept small and large transgressions and to take them less personally.

Often people equate forgiveness with weakness. But forgiveness can also be seen as a strength because it means you are able to express goodwill toward your parents and others. Studies show that forgiving someone is a way of letting go of your baggage so that you can heal and move on with your life.

3. Create New Traditions This Holiday Season

In learning to handle the holidays, one of the most helpful approaches is to develop your own traditions. For instance, hosting a meal at your home or going to a relative’s or friend’s home is a good alternative. Invite family members to join in and let them know that you are trying out new traditions – they might be delighted to join you.

Although your family is no longer intact, you have a family in a different form. Accept the limitations of your divorced family, and accept that you cannot ask them to be something they are not. Having realistic expectations of the holiday season can help you cope with any disappointments or negative memories from the past.

Most of all, maintain hope in your own life and know that your parents’ choices do not need to be your choices – you can create a new story for your life. Creating new holiday traditions that work for you can help you move on with your life.

This article first appeared on DivorceMag.com

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surviving your kids christmas break

6 Tips For Surviving Your Kid’s Christmas Break

surviving your kids christmas break

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…except your kids are sprinting through the house, screaming like banshees and swinging from your newly-dusted chandelier. It’s enough to make you want to yell, “Bah humbug!” and head straight for the spiked eggnog.

But before you turn into a (slightly tipsy) Scrooge, try these 6 tips to stay blissful when the anarchy threatens to take over the house.

Tips For Surviving Your Kid’s Christmas Break

Break up that long school break.

Unplanned, unstructured days at home with your kids are necessary and wonderful… but an entire week of them will seriously test your sanity. Long school breaks need some balance and a plan. Alternate relaxing days at home with play dates, visits to the museum, and outdoorsy field trips. And extra time with their Dad!

Put your kids to work on Christmas morning.

Once the initial excitement over new toys wears off, sibling fights and cries of boredom tend to start. Redirect their energy by having them make mini smartphone videos, showing off their cool new loot, for family members who don’t live nearby. This task will keep your kids occupied, make the video recipients smile and buy you a little extra peace and quiet.

Say no—and mean it.

Turning down invitations and putting the kibosh on unrealistic plans doesn’t mean that you’re ruining the holidays (no matter what your kids say). It means that you’re being realistic about your limits.

Say it nicely but firmly, and you won’t be as likely to overextend yourself or argue with your kids. Here are three sentences to practice with: “No, we can’t go to another party tonight since we’re already committed to two this weekend.” “No, 7-year-olds can’t have their own smartphones, but maybe in another few years.” “No, you cannot have candy canes for breakfast.”

Take a deep breath before reacting.

A deep, belly-filing breath has the power to calm your body and your brain. Do this as soon as you feel general holiday anxiety starts to creep in… and when your kids push your buttons. It’s amazing how many conflicts can be avoided—or at least not escalated—when you wait a few seconds to respond.

Escape the room.

You may not think you have a spare second to spend on your own, but believe it or not, the world will keep spinning if you take an hour to get a massage, watch Stranger Things or indulge in a much-needed nap. Find the time by asking your babysitter to stay an extra hour, doing a kid swap with a mom friend, or giving your ex the gift of extra time with the children during the holidays.

Keep it all in perspective.

You won’t emotionally scar your kids if you don’t make the cookies from scratch or buy them matching reindeer pajamas. All this holiday madness is supposed to be fun, and if it’s not, take a step back, reevaluate and make a change. Your kids will be happy if you’re happy and if you’re truly present with them. That’s when the magic happens, and that’s what they’ll remember.

The post 6 Tips For Surviving Your Kid’s Christmas Break appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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My First Christmas Tree As a Single Mom

My First Christmas Tree As a Single Mom

first christmas tree as a single momMy first Christmas tree as a single mom.

My first picture of ME lifting him up to put the star on the tree.

You deal with day to day life and it’s fine, you boss up and do your thing every day.

Were MOMS. That’s what we do!

Make sure your child gets to school every day, take them to doctor appointments, make sure they have the right book bags, clothes, snacks, a clean bed and clean house to live in.

Make sure they wake up every day on time and have a nutritional breakfast and start the day off with laughs and lots of pep talks. LOL

Make sure they feel loved every day and read them books every night before bed. Keep the monsters away late at night when they come into your bed and are scared.

But the first Christmas tree stings.

You feel all the pain again. How he gave up on our marriage and our family. How he left me a few weeks before having heart surgery. You get used to someone giving up when the going gets tough and relying on you and yourself only.

And it stings the most because his dad isn’t here to lift him up for the first Christmas ever to put the star on. But it’s EMPOWERING to know I got the picture this year. And To know that I’m STRONG enough to lift him to put the star on the tree.

Running my business from home that my ex never believed in and I’m able to provide for us. To be my son’s safe haven.

To kiss his boos boos when he’s hurt.

To fix refrigerators, vacuums, and anything else going wrong with the house.

To mow all 3 acres.

To snuggle him and feed him chicken soup when he’s sick.

I’m STRONG ENOUGH.

So while I sit here in my PEACEful house with candles lit, tree put up, lights everywhere, the house decorated EXACTLY how I want it. I have PEACE in my heart, PEACE with where I’m at in life, and more importantly for my son and I, PEACE in our HOME.

My little baby and I are happy with just us. I will never stop believing in myself and having faith in God every day and that he has an amazing plan for us.

So keep pushing single mamas out there. YOU’RE NOT ALONE.

Our babies need us as much as we need them.

And we don’t need a man.

Our children come first and they need to see their mamas happy more than anything and never settle for less than that.

I AM ENOUGH.

That’s what matters.

PEACE. Happiness, and most importantly lots of Love.

And Thanks to my mama for the picture. Moms are always there when you need them the most, as I will do for him.

The post My First Christmas Tree As a Single Mom appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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single moms at christmas

A Message To Single Moms At Christmas

single moms at christmas

 

A Message To Single Moms At Christmas

Hey! Hey, you! I see you there, staying up late, searching for the best deals and worrying about how you’re going to put presents under the tree. I know you’ve been squirreling money away since July, hoping to surprise your kids with more than you were able to give last year.

I understand all too well how much easier it would be if you had another income to work with. How much weight would be off your shoulders if you didn’t live paycheck to paycheck all year long?

I know that this time of year is hard, if only because you want to do so much more for your kids than you can.

But I saw you carrying a tree as big as you through the lot all by yourself, never once complaining or asking for help. I saw you bundling the entire family up, going neighborhood to neighborhood to admire the lights as Christmas carols played on your car radio.

I know that most nights, when you’re not too tired or rundown, you try to sit with them and read at least one Christmas story, sometimes in front of a fire. I’ve seen you making hot chocolate and breaking out the advent calendar, determined to make happy holiday memories for those little people you love so much.

I know you’ve been sharing your favorite holiday movies, beaming with pride as your kids laughed at Elf” or giggled through “A Christmas Story” (Fun fact to impress them with: The same kid who played Ralphie grew up to play one of the head elves, supervising Buddy at the North Pole. Ask your kids if they can spot him!)

I saw you flipping through your Christmas cookie recipes, trying to plan a time to bake with your favorite little people—trying even harder not to think about how much you don’t need those cookies around your house. (It’s the holidays, let yourself indulge a little. I promise you deserve it.)

I know you may be worrying (or even heartbroken) about spending Christmas alone this year (perhaps it’s their dad’s turn to have them) or about not being able to give them the Christmas they deserve if they will be with you. I know that it’s not just the presents that get expensive this time of year.

The visits to Santa, the tree, the new ornaments, even the baking supplies; it all adds up. And maybe you have a job where you won’t get paid on the days you aren’t working, making this a short month with less money coming your way.

I see you trying to do the very best you can anyway.

I know you bolt out of bed some nights, remembering that you forgot to hide the elf. So you jump up and move him while it’s on your mind, and then you can’t fall back asleep for another two hours. Only in the morning do you realize how unoriginal your new hiding spot was.

And I know that you are the only one wrapping gifts and that because you’re tired and stressed out and a little short on personal time, the corners aren’t just right. And you’ve got a few presents with scraps of paper taped together because you don’t have any to waste.

But you know what? Your kids don’t seem to care. They don’t mind that there are only a few presents under the tree, or even that the tree is second-hand and a little beaten up.

They aren’t upset you had to skip the Santa visit this year, and they remember all the Christmas stories by heart—because you’ve read them every year before now. And do you want to know the best part? They think you are beautiful enough to eat all the cookies without fear.

Maybe this is the first year you’ve been doing it all on your own, or perhaps it’s always been like this. Either way, there is an extra pressure there when you are solo parenting around the holidays. You never want your kids to miss out. You never want them to feel as though they don’t have everything every other family does. And this time of year, that missing presence can feel even harder to ignore.

But I promise you’re doing just fine. Amazing, even.

Because every step of the way, you are putting your kids first. You are pushing and striving to make this holiday season better than the last, to stick to the traditions, to create the memories and to show your kids just how much you love them.

You are a superwoman. And I’m here to tell you, even if those attempts don’t go exactly as originally planned, they know it.

And they see you, too.

They see you bending over backward to make the holidays special. They see you slapping a smile on your face as you sing, even though the circles under your eyes are dark. They may not be beaming with gratitude just yet; in fact, it might take them years to tell you just how much your efforts meant. But they see you, and the memories you are working so hard to make.

You are singlehandedly creating Christmas, and your kids are benefitting daily from that fact. They see you, and they’ll always remember…

The carols.

The hot chocolate.

The lazy elf.

The love.

All of this will mean so much more to them than anything you could possibly put under the tree. In fact, years from now, they won’t remember what gifts they got this Christmas—but they will remember how hard their mom worked to make it special.

You’re doing an amazing job. So be kind to yourself this holiday season; you deserve some happy memories, too.

Merry Christmas,

Olivia

The post A Message To Single Moms At Christmas appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Negotiating Holiday Gift Giving After Divorce

Negotiating Holiday Gift Giving After Divorce

The best gifts you can give have nothing to do with price tags and are all about time and love.

The post Negotiating Holiday Gift Giving After Divorce appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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Adult Children of Divorce and Thanksgiving: The “Giving” Never Ends!

Adult Children of Divorce and Thanksgiving: The “Giving” Never Ends!

I’m not sure why it happens, but I know many grown children of divorce who still feel this way—make each parent happy first, deal with your needs second. And, still, it’s never enough.

The post Adult Children of Divorce and Thanksgiving: The “Giving” Never Ends! appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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new thanksgiving traditions

18 New Thanksgiving Traditions To Create For You and Your Children

new thanksgiving traditions

 

Why not replace some of those old, pre-divorce Thanksgiving traditions with new Thanksgiving traditions?

It only makes sense, especially if thoughts of the traditions you had as an intact family bring up negative emotions.

One of the best and most rewarding things about having kids is introducing them to your favorite traditions. And, building new ones that will turn into their favorites.

Show them that things like divorce and the change that comes with it can be good by building new traditions to carry with your family in the new life you’re building for yourself.

18 New Thanksgiving Traditions to Create With Your Children

Draw Your Thanks

Cover the holiday table with a white tablecloth. Place glasses filled with cloth markers around the table. Ask your children to draw what they’re thankful for or just something fun—like their favorite Thanksgiving memory.

It’s All about the Pumpkins

Place a small pumpkin at each place setting. Around the table, leave small bowls with glitter, markers, stickers, etc. and ask your children to decorate the pumpkins like their favorite Thanksgiving character–a turkey, pilgrim, Plymouth Rock … whatever.

Gather Fall Foliage

Ask children to gather up acorns, pinecones, and other outdoor foliage to make fall wreaths. You can either have these made before people arrive for dinner or make it an art project for everyone to do together while the turkey cooks.

Decorate Everything in Sight

You can find everything, pumpkins (candles, centerpieces, wreaths, etc.) and turkey (chocolate, ones that gobble) at local craft stores like Michael’s. Get everything you can, and decorate each and every room of the house with turkeys and pumpkins—even the bathroom!

Watch the Parade

Before the food and the stretchy pants come out, put on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Everyone can pick out their favorite balloon and float, and you can all marvel at the new giant balloons that appear each year.

Make a Pin-Up

Hang up a large picture of a turkey and play pin the feathers on the turkey. Whoever gets the feather the closest, gets the first helping of turkey or the wishbone to make a wish.

Lend a Hand

Have your children make handprint turkeys. You can put children’s names (and the date) on them and use these as place settings. Keep them after the holiday, and bring them out each year to compare hand sizes.

Save Room for Peanuts

From Thanksgiving to Christmas, there is no shortage of fabulous movies and TV specials to watch. On Thanksgiving, pop on A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. There’s nothing more fun for kids and adults than watching Snoopy and the gang.

Have Game Time

In between courses, bring out old school board games from Monopoly to Scrabble to Candyland and hold a board game tournament. This will give your children plenty of time to digest in between the main meal and dessert.

Toss the Ball 

Besides turkey and pie, nothing says Thanksgiving like football! Grab the pigskin and enjoy the great outdoors while the turkey is cooking. And of course, watching football on TV is a time-honored tradition, too.

Jingle Those Bells

While cooking, blast some holiday music (Yes, it’s OK to start Christmas music already) and have a dance party with your children. They’ll remember those fun times more than the meal!

Make It Your Own

Formal isn’t always better. Our family tradition is that every year we all wear crazy Thanksgiving themed hats … some light up, some make noise, but everyone–even the kids get one. Some look like a turkey, while one is in the shape of a pumpkin pie complete with a dollop of whipped cream. Every year, my children look forward to picking out their funny Thanksgiving hat.

Get Some Air

People tend to eat a lot on Thanksgiving. Why not take a big family walk after dinner but before dessert? Get in some exercise, family time, and unplug from everything.

Write It Down

Instead of just saying out loud what you’re thankful for, have everyone write down what they’re more grateful for. Then you can put it in a big bowl, and people can pull out the slips of paper and then try and guess who wrote each one.

Give Something Back

It is the season to give thanks but also the season to give back. Volunteer as a family at a soup kitchen or sign up to with your children to do Toys for Tots to teach them about the season of giving. Another great idea is to ask your Thanksgiving guests to bring a non-perishable and/or canned good to donate to a local food pantry.

Run for a Cause

Get your Turkey Trot on! Raise money (and get healthy) while participating in a local turkey trot race. And get your kids involved, too!

Remember Loved Ones

Share special memories of those who have passed: stories that make you thankful for your family, both past, present, and future.

Pack Up Some Holiday Cheer

Not everyone is fortunate enough to be with their loved ones during the holiday season. Try putting together boxes for our military men and women to send overseas. Bring some joy to their holiday season.

Most of all, have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

The post 18 New Thanksgiving Traditions To Create For You and Your Children appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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How to Put the “Happy” Back Into the Holidays After Divorce

How to Put the “Happy” Back Into the Holidays After Divorce

Truth be told, a divorce can shake your foundation and make you question your own judgment. You might find yourself second-guessing yourself and feeling sad over the holidays if you’re recently divorced or separated from your children, even for a short period of time.  

The post How to Put the “Happy” Back Into the Holidays After Divorce appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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reasons a narcissist ruins the holidays

5 Reasons a Narcissist Ruins the Holidays

reasons a narcissist ruins the holidays

 

If you’re divorced from a narcissist, you know that a narcissist can be a bit glitchy, or more glitchy around the holidays. Why? Because they’re entitled to all the attention. How dare Santa or Jesus or gift giving or their own children take the spotlight off them.

MY ex was the glue that held our family together. Especially during the holidays. He LOVED the holidays because he could string lights on the house, bake cookies with the kids, chop down the tallest tree on the Christmas tree farm and receive all the kudos.

He went out of his way to make our holidays exceptional. It wasn’t about wanting us to have a great holiday, though, it was about him looking good during the holidays. And man, alive could he make himself look loving, caring, empathetic and full of the holiday spirit.

It was all an act that came to a stop once we divorced. Divorce forced him into having to embrace the needs of others. His children and their needs and my needs.

We needed him to follow holiday visitation schedules, behave himself at school holiday pageants and act as if he cared about the feelings of others. That didn’t go over well.

The first Christmas after we divorced, he figured out a way to dodge the “giving” spirit and remain the center of attention. He flew to his parent’s home. A home he hadn’t visited in years or expressed an interest in visiting.

He had a GREAT Christmas. His parents fawned over him, his siblings came from far and wide to spend time with him, he went out with old high school friends and even went to Christmas Eve church services with his Mom so she could show him off.

He had promised the kids he’d call them Christmas day, but the call never came. He was so enthralled in all the attention he was getting that he forgot his kids of Christmas day.

His mother was so thrilled about, “Johnny” putting lights on her house for the first time in decades. Good Lord!

Since that first post-divorce Christmas things haven’t gone well for him. Since he can no longer be the center of attention in a positive way, he works overtime trying to be the center of attention in a negative way.

If he isn’t arguing with me about holiday visitation, he doesn’t show up at all for holiday visitation. If he isn’t making demands of how our kids should accept and embrace his mistress (the woman he left us for) during the holidays, he’s berating them for putting ornaments in the wrong spot on his magnificent Christmas tree.

The Grinch has nothing on my ex during the holidays!

Why does he have such a hard time and work overtime trying to ruin our holiday? See below.

5 Reasons a Narcissist Ruins the Holidays

1. They Lack Empathy:

One of my favorite things about Christmas is watching the faces of my kids as they open their gifts. I also like giving things to people that I know they wouldn’t dare splurge on for themselves. It brings me a great deal of joy to make other people happy.

When you lack the empathy chip, there is no joy in giving or making others happy. It’s not a behavior narcissist attach any significance to. To them, it seems like a monumental waste of time and money and they feel incredibly put out to have to suffer through such an occasion with people they have no investment in.

The disappearing narcissist doesn’t care that it’s the holidays and that they have hurt their children deeply. These thoughts don’t resonate with them.

When an activity is all about someone else, like a birthday, a promotion, or a graduation, a narcissist will find no value in celebrating another’s achievements or joy (unless of course, they could obtain supply through proxy).

Instead, it will activate feelings of jealousy and envy. Because someone else is being put on that proverbial pedestal and getting the attention that should be theirs, a narcissist will find those encounters intolerable and will seek to avoid them at all costs or ruin them for others.

2. Good Attention, Bad Attention, It’s All Good:

If it can’t be all about them, where they and everyone else gets to bask in their glorious essence, then they will get attention another way and that’s by being an ornery cuss.

If they can get you to feel responsible for their moods, so that you are jumping through hoops they set up to keep their foul mood from infecting your holiday, they’ll like that even more. If it’s not all about them in a good way, they’ll make it all about them in a bad way. Either/Or it makes no difference.

3. They Don’t Do Intimacy, Responsibility or Obligation:

Sharing special occasions breeds the kind of intimacy that a narcissist just can’t handle. It creates expectations that a narcissist doesn’t want you or anyone else to have. With those expectations, comes a responsibility to behave as if they care about what’s best for others.

It means getting closer, which they cannot allow. Their anxiety always gets the better of them, so they’d just as well leave their kids hanging, or start a fight with you, so they don’t have to deal with the anxiety they feel over not being center of attention.

This anxiety makes them incredibly unreliable. When it’s upon them, their primary goal is to alleviate it, which usually means shutting people out or making them miserable. Their anxiety paired with their lack of empathy is a holiday recipe for disaster.

4. They’ve Found Alternate Narcissistic Supply:

I’ve had many clients tell me they’ve had solid plans for the holidays with their narcissists and then find themselves stood up, or on the receiving end of a text, canceling at the last minute. The next thing they know, they see pictures on social media of the narcissist spending the holidays with someone else. They’re devastated and asking – “WTH?”

A good rule of thumb is to always remember that new supply always trumps old supply. A new lover trumps their kids and their kid’s (old supply) needs regardless of what time of the year it is.

New supply turns on the narcissist’s laser focus and obsessive attention. There is no way old supply can compete. It doesn’t mean they’re better – it means they’re newer/unconquered.

So, if your kids get that text on Christmas day, after they’ve made plans and are excited about spending the day with their Dad, this is likely what’s happened.

5. Misery is Their Default Setting:

Miserable people create miserable energy and environments everywhere they go. They are dark people, who project their feelings onto other people. Ruining another’s joy is like a trophy for them. It makes them feel important and powerful.

If they believe the holidays are foolish and irrelevant, they don’t care that they mean something to you. Your opinions are usually irrelevant unless of course, you carry the same opinion as they do.

Only seriously disturbed and twisted people ruin events for other people and suck the joy out of life.

Hoping or expecting a narcissist to go against their nature causes suffering. Know what you’re dealing with, understand the behavior and NEVER expect them to play a role in making the holidays a time of joy and giving.

Love your children, make their holiday experience wonderful and don’t let your narcissistic ex and his behavior dim your spirit.

The post 5 Reasons a Narcissist Ruins the Holidays appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Surviving the Holidays Without Your Kids

Surviving the Holidays Without Your Kids

Holidays without your kids during divorce feels awful. The holidays will be different this year if you are going through a divorce. Painful, maybe, especially without your kids. You can survive and it will get better. Here are four tips.

The post Surviving the Holidays Without Your Kids appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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