By DR. ROSEMARY LICHTMAN and DR. PHYLLIS GOLDBERG
The time you do spend with your children is now structured differently as well as limited. It will take awhile for the kids to feel comfortable with their new schedules so don't try to rush them. Accept that the turmoil they feel is equal to yours. At first, try to keep some stability in their lives – do the same kinds of things with them that you did while you all lived together. Don't try to make each visit with them special by doing something different, instead make each visit special by letting them know how much you love them. You can do that by focusing on them completely while you are together and letting them know that you think about them when you are apart.
Keep your expectations for the holidays realistic – they will be difficult for everyone, especially in the beginning. In the past, you may have repeated family rituals together each year – now things will be different. Unless you can come together to observe the holiday, you and your ex will probably want to schedule separate times for your individual holiday celebrations. You can continue the rituals which are important to you and add some new ones as you experiment with your children about how to make the holidays meaningful. Talk with them long before the holiday about how they want to celebrate it and make the planning a joint effort.
Recognize that while a holiday lasts only a specified period of time, your relationship with your children goes on forever. A good holiday message to give your offspring is that you are grateful that they are in your life and that you will always be there for them, even though you are divorced from their mother. That is the best present you can give them.
Dr. Phyllis Goldberg and Dr. Rosemary Lichtman have guided their clients through the process of reassessing life after divorce. They partnered to create www.HerMentorCenter.com, which provides coaching services. In addition, they post weekly on their blog, www.NourishingRelationships.blogspot.com. Drs. Goldberg and Lichtman are co-authors of the forthcoming book, “The Sandwiched Generation: Nourishing Relationships without Starving Yourself.” \Dr. Rosemary Lichtman and Dr. Phyllis Goldberg have guided their clients through reassessing their lives, before, during and after divorce. They created http://www.HerMentorCenter.com, which provides coaching services and a free e-zine, and are co-authors of the book Family Relationships.