Surviving the Holidays During Divorce

By: Hoang-Anh Zapien

It's that time of the year again. Lights are being put up on rooftops, stores crowd with shoppers buying presents, and holiday planning for family gatherings begin. The holiday season is usually an occasion of festive and happy times. However, for those who are coping with divorce, the effects of separation and loss are magnified as the holiday season approaches.

Although there are no magical tools to help alleviate the stress and pain that one may experience during the holiday season, it is important to keep some things in mind that may help make the holidays bearable, and even enjoyable.

  1. MAKE NEW RITUALS AND FAMILY TRADITIONS - While you may want to hold on to some of the past traditions, it's a good idea to create some new rituals with friends and family. Reassure your children that holiday celebrations will continue, but in a different way.
  2. LISTEN TO YOUR CHILD - Children of divorce often find the holiday season to be a very difficult and stressful time. They are the ones that are being shuffled around between two different families and feeling the stress of their parents. So talk to your children and make the holiday season about what is best for them. Find out how they feel the holiday season should be spent.
  3. MAKE A SCHEDULE - Decide how the holidays will be divided. Most children of divorce secretly feel the divorce is their fault, so do not give them more reason to feel this way by making your children feel guilty for being with the other parent. Reassure your kids that you will be okay while they are with the other parent, and encourage them to enjoy their time there.
  4. BE REALISTIC - "Picture perfect" holidays are usually just an illusion. Have realistic expectations about the holiday season, especially the first year after a divorce.
  5. THINGS GET EASIER - Getting through the holidays is always a difficult task for those going through a divorce, and even after the divorce is over. Remember to take it ONE DAY AT A TIME. It does get easier, it does get better, and eventually it does hurt less.

Hoang-Anh Zapien is an Associate with Kring & Chung, LLP's Inland Empire, CA office. She can be contacted at (909) 941-3050 or

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