Wrapped gifts under the tree are always a treat, but what do kids with divorced parents really want this holiday season? It’s probably not the latest fad toy or video game, but three things only you and your children’s co-parent can give:
The gift of both of you being happy. When it comes to coping with divorce, family therapists can tell you that among what stresses and scare kids most is seeing how unhappy, sad, stressed-out, and/or angry and bitter their parents have become. Kids feel the most secure and happy when their parents are happy and at peace. Do you have work to do in this area? Whether this means finding a divorce therapist or hitting the gym a few extra times to work out your frustrations, the outcome can be worth it.
The gift of your undivided time and attention. You’ve probably heard that the best things in life are not things at all, but experiences, feeling, and moments that we make special by showing each other love and attention. In other words, giving your kids the latest video games is one thing, but actually spending the afternoon having a mom-son or dad-daughter video game showdown? That’s a happy memory that will last long after the newest video gaming system comes along. Putting up the tree together, baking together, going holiday shopping for the other parent, going to the movies together…there are endless opportunities for how to give kids the gift of you.
The gift of getting along. Almost always, kids just want their their parents to get along. As much as you don’t believe this, it may be possible you and your ex to bury the hatchet and be civil, and even friendly, at least when in the company of your children. Not quite there? Work on it, and in the meantime, treat your ex like you would treat an acquaintance: cordially. Then hire a therapist, attend a divorce support group, or find another healthy way to work through the anger, frustration, and hatred you feel. It’s hurting far more than it’s helping to hold a grudge. Think of letting go of these negative emotions as a gift for your kids — and for yourself.