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It’s one of the most difficult things we have to do after the divorce. We have to abide by the custody agreement and share our children during the holidays.hope quote

Suddenly, Thanksgiving and Christmas are no longer filled with family delight. Instead, these holidays feel like heart-wrenching reminders of all we have lost.

But if we follow a few practical tips, we can survive the holidays with our hearts intact. And we can nurture our children in the process.

  • Make sure you have a plan. Know who gets the kids, where and when so that you can make all the arrangements without extra stress.
  • Be prepared for the pain. This is not an easy thing to do, parsing your kids out to a family where you no longer belong and to a person you no longer trust. Buck up. Be brave. You can do this.
  • Keep your journal handy. Don’t take out your pain on your children, your ex, his new wife or the ex-laws. Write out your grief in a safe place. Fill your journal with your thoughts and your tears.
  • Do something special for yourself. When the children are gone, this is not the time for you to feel like a victim or torture yourself. Get a massage. Go to a yoga class. Take a long bubble bath and escape into a good book. Visit a friend. Have coffee at a special place.
  • Watch out for dangerous comfort traps. Retail therapy may be okay, but don’t overdo. Don’t rack up extra charges on your credit card just because you feel terrible. Another comfort trap is junk food. Disappearing into a gallon of ice cream will only give you sugar fog and extra calories you’ll have to work off later. A tiny square of dark chocolate, dissolving slowly on your tongue while you’re lounging in a bubble bath is a better idea.
  • This is the time to remind God he is your Husband and Maker and He has promised to take care of you. Read Isaiah 54. Pray that your children will be safe and happy. Ask God to comfort you.
  • Don’t use the children as negotiators or punching bags. Remind your children that Daddy and the grandparents love them and want to spend time with them.
  • Don’t blubber all over your children. Don’t share your woundings with them. Model courage.

  • Listen to your children. If they are afraid, there’s a good reason. Talk it through. If they try to use you and your ex against each other, refuse to go there. Speak truth. Guard their hearts. Listen hard.
  • Remember that your children will model your behaviors and some of your children will be especially sensitive to your heart and try to protect you. Remind them that it is YOUR responsibility to take care of them, not theirs to take care of you. Be the strong one.
  • After the children return, plan a fun activity together. If they want to talk, listen – but don’t respond with any negative comments. Don’t sabotage what you’ve just tried so hard to build.

Each year that you make it through the holidays with grace and courage, you’ll be more prepared for the next year. As the children grow and begin making their own choices, choosing their own times to visit the ex-laws – the stress will lessen for you.

Just be careful not to do anything you will later regret. Share your children well. Yes, it’s hard but you CAN do this.

©2014 Starting Over Single

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