SALT LAKE CITY — It has been said that it’s “the most wonderful time of the year.” But it can also be the most stressful time of the year. Families everywhere feel busier than ever with events, parties and long to-do lists. Being part of a divorced family can complicate things even further, making it tough on anyone — especially children.
Why are the holidays so stressful for children of divorce? Emotions run high for children this time of year. The pressure of having to deal with two households of stress is enough for any child to buckle. They feel it times two.
Try to grasp this for a second: A lot of families — both together and divorced — face the difficult task of balancing both sides. Scheduling time with mom’s side of the family and time with dad’s side of the family can get tricky. When divorce occurs, that problem is amplified for the child because he or she may still be expected to see all of the family on all sides. Participating in all the events and going back and forth can be overwhelming, and if there is no scheduled down time, anxiety can set in. It is especially difficult when a parent has been remarried. Being part of a blended family can be exciting, and it can be thrilling for a child to connect and celebrate with so many people in their life. However, it can quickly become an exhausting balancing act for the child.
It is also common that anger arises for these kids during the holidays. The holidays bring up happy memories of how things used to be; and maybe some of the old traditions have been broken. Feelings of resentment and frustration can resurface. They may wonder “are we ever going to have a happy Christmas again?” This is particularly true if one parent has moved on and there is a stepfamily involved. Your child might think, “Does mom love that family, her new family, more than she loves me?”
Here are some suggestions to help divorced families have a great holiday season…