The holiday season can be a difficult time for families experiencing separation and divorce, especially when there are children involved. No matter which holiday you may be celebrating, there is an increased pressure at this time of year on all families for the holiday to be ‘perfect’. But even if you think you can’t muster any holiday cheer, it is important to maintain a sense of normalcy for your children. This may be the first year that your kids won’t be celebrating and sharing things with both parents at the same time, and that can be incredibly difficult for them. Here are some tips that can make this time of year easier for your children:

Maintain the traditions. Children and even teens love the fantasy and ritual of the holiday – and the excitement and traditions that make the holiday special. Try to maintain the most meaningful traditions that your children are used to, but use your judgment. Some traditions might be too painful to continue. Instead, try something new. Involve the children in creating new traditions.

Allow your children to grieve. If this is the first holiday since the divorce, you and the children may feel sad. It is okay to cry. Be there with your child, and let them know that it is all right to feel what they are feeling.

Be supportive of your children’s family relationships. This means relationships with family members from both sides of the family. Never make your child feel like he or she must choose between you and the other parent’s family – it’s not fair to them to make them choose.

Take time for yourself and use your support system. Don’t get caught up in trying to achieve perfection. Reach out to your friends and relatives if you are feeling lost in grief. Surrounding yourself with loved ones – even if you think you would rather be alone – can help you feel better than you think.

If you have questions about your divorce or separation, please contact family lawyer Jason P. Howie, online or at 519.973.1500.