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Weathering the Holidays Post-Divorce in Mississippi

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Divorce is difficult any time of year, but your first holidays post-divorce can be amongst the most challenging.  Nearly four million divorced parents each year will experience the pain of being apart from their former spouse during the holidays and the stress of juggling custody schedules.  The newly divorced often enter the holiday season with the belief that they will never again experience the perfect Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa.  In the face of such shattering knowledge, divorced couples may dread the onset of the holiday season.

The following is a list of tips to help you weather the holidays post-divorce.  This list is intended to provide you with some proven strategies to not only make it through those first holidays after your divorce, but to help you discover the immense possibility of cheerful holidays to come.

  1. Don’t go it alone—whether you have custody of the children during the holidays or not, it is important to spend this special season with family and friends.  Your loved ones will be there to make the season merry and bring out your holiday spirit.
  2. Keep busy—spend time doing things you love.  Volunteer at a homeless shelter, make new friends, visit local tourist attractions, and try new restaurants.  The best way to keep your mind off your former spouse is to simply keep it busy with other thoughts.
  3. Focus on the kids—no matter your attitude towards the holidays, you no doubt want your children to experience a happy holiday.  Co-parenting during this season is often challenging, as parents fight with the desire to spend as much time as possible with their children, but at the same time not to exclude the other parent.  Your best bet is to focus on doing what is best for your children, which generally means spending quality time with both parents in a healthy environment free of bickering or guilt.
  4. Do some advance planning—to avoid potential disagreements, figure out your holiday custody schedule well in advance.  This includes planning pick up dates, times, and locations, so that there will be no misunderstandings during this important moment for both you and the children.
  5. Don’t compete—divorced parents often fall into the trap of trying to outdo each other with gifts for the kids.  This attitude is corrosive to healthy co-parenting and can easily be avoided through conversation with your former spouse as to general guidelines for spending and acceptable presents.
  6. Focus on yourself—you have likely spent the past few months or even years focusing on the wants and needs of others.  This holiday season, relish in being able to center on yourself.  Enjoy some alone time, buy yourself a special gift you’ve always wanted, and take some time for quiet reflection.
  7. Keep some traditions—within reason, keep those traditions that matter to you.  If you and the kids always baked cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, maintain this special tradition.  Some traditions might simply not be possible as they involved both spouses, but for those important traditions that can be re-created post-divorce, do not lose them.
  8. Make new traditions—now is the time to embark upon new traditions.  Invite single friends over for Christmas Eve, drive the kids to see the lights on Christmas day, make a new unusual dish, open presents at midnight–whatever strikes your fancy, create traditions that will be special to you for years to come.

Although the prospect of facing the first holidays without your former spouse can be daunting, with some advance planning and goal setting, divorced couples can emerge from the holiday season not just unscathed, but full of hope for the year to come.

Matthew S. Poole is a preeminent divorce attorney in Mississippi with a reputation for compassion and excellence of service.  Call him today at (601) 573-7429 for a free initial consultation.