Every year many adult divorce children have to make a decision: should they spend Christmas morning with Dad and Christmas afternoon with Mother? Should they spend the Thanksgiving Day in both houses so as not to offend parents? For some, it is important to avoid the holidays altogether. It may be better to plan a trip to a distant location or to visit a friend's house.
Most of the adult divorce children I know feel that the holidays trigger negative childhood memories, or they feel trapped midway between their parents' contrasting worlds.
Kendra, a 20-year-old divorcee, put it this way: "When I'm honest with myself, at the end of each vacation I feel like I was a kid, split between two houses and trying to do both sides of my family happy. "
For adults who have grown up in conflict-ridden divorced families, holidays can be a particularly challenging time. It can make adults feel like children again, be torn between two parents and not want to disappoint or hurt them.
Although adults who grow up in divorced families know that they are free to decide how to spend their time, they may feel obliged to spend sufficient time with all family members, which in many cases is impractical or impossible. In the end, nobody wins when members of a divorced family are scared, disappointed or angry about how they spend their holidays.
Holiday tips for adult divorce children
1. Change your perspective
Even if your parents are divorced years ago, the holidays may be an indication that your family is not what you wanted or imagined. As an adult, it is important to remember that you can control your thoughts and actions, and that you are not the same person you were when you first separated your parents. Luckily they are not.
If you are worried about Thanksgiving and Christmas, it may be reassuring to discover that your divorced family has not cornered the market in the event of malfunction. There are many people who have not been touched by a divorce, but who deal with the same, if not harder, realities.
Families can be affected by death, illness, addiction, poverty and a host of other problems. If you remember that you are not alone and others are facing far worse challenges than you, you can change your perspective.
2. Learn to forgive
It is amazing that even after a divorce many years ago, an event can occur that casts a dark shadow, if you allow it. Deal with divorced parents and stepparents As an adult, it never really becomes "easy". After a while, it just feels like the new normal.
However, if you decide to let go of the injuries and resentments of the past, and find that your parents should not owe you any decisions they may have made, it can be incredibly liberating. The holidays offer an opportunity to put this way of thinking into practice and to award it to the parents.
Forgiveness is not about tolerating or accepting the actions of your parents, but about having less power over you. It can help you accept small and big transgressions and take them less personally.
Often, people equate forgiveness with weakness. Forgiveness can also be seen as a strength because you can express good will to your parents and others. studies Show that forgiveness is a way to let go of your luggage so that you can heal and continue your life.
3. Create new traditions during this holiday season
As you learn how to deal with the holidays, one of the most helpful ways to develop your own traditions is to work with them. For example, it is a good alternative to eat at home or to go to the home of a relative or friend. Invite family members to join in and tell them that they're trying new traditions – they might be happy 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 can not ask them to be something they are not. If you have realistic expectations of the Christmas season, you can overcome disappointments or negative memories from the past.
Above all, keep the hope in your own life and know that your parents' decisions do not have to be your decisions – you can create a new story for your life. Creating new holiday traditions that work for you can help you continue with your life.
This article first appeared DivorceMag.com
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