Avoiding Holiday Turmoil - Helping Divorced Families Celebrate the Season

Oct 19, 2006, 01:00 ET from California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

    SAN DIEGO, Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Modern times have delivered to us
 the alternative family, including but not limited to ex-spouses,
 step-parents, and step-siblings. During the holiday season, children and
 families may experience confusion, distress, or tension.
     For many, the picturesque holiday of families celebrating with food and
 gifts, with mom, dad, son, and daughter joined under one roof has been
 displaced. Today, over one-third of all marriages end in divorce as
 reported by the National Center for Health Statistics. Many children now
 celebrate their holidays under several different roofs and possibly with
 more than one mom or dad, creating the potential for the holidays to be
 difficult and stressful times for children and parents of divorce.
     In addition to the typical holiday stress, often children of divorced
 families are under even more anxiety and grief. Often, the holidays are a
 time for reminiscing. Many children find it difficult to cope with memories
 of when their parents were together. Marriage and Family Therapists can
 help parents and their children create a season that reignites a sense of
 excitement, celebration, and joy. Here are some tips to help children enjoy
 the holidays:
     *  Stick with a routine.  It is important for children to have a sense
        of stability and predictability during the holiday season.
     *  Make a plan.  Communicate to your ex-spouse or co-parent beforehand
        about holiday plans and schedules with your children.  For instance,
        a rotation of Christmas and Thanksgiving every other year is one
        option, as is Christmas Eve with one parent and Christmas Day with
        another.  Also, it is important for co-parents to put their schedules
        in writing, perhaps facilitated by a divorce lawyer, so there is no
        confusion about who gets which holiday and when.
     *  Orchestrate the giving of gifts.  Know what the other parent is giving
        your child and give your gifts accordingly.  Avoid double gifts and
        ones that "out-do" the other parent.
     *  Above all, let children love their parents.  Allow your children to
        keep in touch with your co-parent even while in your care.
     The holidays can be a time for feasting, laughter, and happy memories
 after all. Remember, as a parent, you have the responsibility to create for
 your child a most joyful holiday season, and with the proper support system
 and professional help, you and your family can celebrate the season with
 ease and enjoyment.
     If you feel you are unable to communicate with your ex-spouse or
 relatives, family therapy may be the solution. Therapy can address and
 modify constraints, help family members communicate with one another in a
 productive way, and develop strategies to solve problems more effectively.
 To learn more about how therapy can help and to locate a Marriage and
 Family Therapist, visit California's online resource,
     About CAMFT
     The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT),
 with 27 chapters throughout the state, is an independent professional
 organization, representing the interests of licensed Marriage and Family
 Therapists. CAMFT provides www.TherapistFinder.com as a resource to
 prospective patients looking for Marriage and Family Therapists located in
 California. For more information about CAMFT, please call (858) 292-2638 or
 visit www.camft.org or www.TherapistFinder.com

SOURCE California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists