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Monthly Archives: December 2014

Ho Ho WHOA!!!

While the title of this blog is “Life as a Divorced Dad,” a good majority of the posts I write can easily be read by parents from just about any situation with a sense of, “yup … been there.” However this particular post will most likely resonate more with divorced parents than any other.

Like most parents, we invest months of preparation, planning, spending, anticipation, anxiety, stress, sleepless nights pushing ourselves to emotional extremes culminating in few days of hurried chaos as we attempt to accomplish splendid memorable moments of holiday cheer of epic proportions for our children. (deep breath)

We then groggily wake up on the 26th with a sense of, “Whoa what just happened?” For most, the sudden contrast of calm can be a little unsettling. The pace of our lives has been ludicrous speed and it’s now come to a screeching halt. For the typical family unit there is still a sense of wholeness that accompanies these feelings as the kids play with their new toys, a pot of coffee is brewing in the kitchen and parents 2014-12-02 22.17.53attempt to begin the process of cleaning up.

But for the divorced parent, there is often a much larger sense of contrast. For a divorced parent the experience can be remarkably cold and empty, especially if they spend Christmas morning with their kids and then hand them off to the other parent the day after. We wake to a Christmas ghost town of deadly quiet as we look around the house at shreds of ribbon strewn about along with a few empty boxes and left over Santa cookies. It can very much feel like slamming into a brick wall.

Throughout the year the transition from having kids to not having kids is most likely the most difficult adjustment for everyone involved, but the holidays take it to a whole nother level. It is an experience of extremes and the emptiness of handing your children off during the holidays can be unfathomably cold for no other reason than it’s an extreme shock to the system both physically and emotionally.

As hard as it may be at first, take advantage of the quiet. Rest. Reflect. And look forward to the next time you’ll get to see your children. Send them a text and let them know you’re thinking about them. Send a picture of you enjoying a gift they got you. Let them know that even when you’re apart, they’re still with you. Some children will feel guilt for leaving a parent alone. Letting them know you’re OK will allow them to enjoy their time with the other parent, so long as you stay positive.

Remember that everything you did during the holiday rush was to ensure your children had a joyous holiday. That’s still the focus. Part of that includes time with their other parent. Know that everything you’re doing, including sitting alone on the stoop, sipping on a cup of java, you’re doing to give your children memories and relationships they’ll cherish as they get older.

You did good. And you deserve a moment of peaceful reflection. Enjoy it while you can because in a few days, you’ll start the chaos of a new year all over again.

Peace!

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2014 in Divorce, holidays, Uncategorized

 

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Joy To The Imperfect World!

We all have visions of the perfect Norman Rockwell holiday. Everyone works hard to create the perfect day for their children and make sure that all the t’s are crossed and all the i’ dotted. badly-wrapped-gift

But just remember; it doesn’t have to be perfect. Chances are pretty good that not all of the planets will align the way you’d hoped. And you know what? That’s awesome! Revel in the errors and spilled egg nog. Just roll with it and remember that what’s important is to enjoy the time we have with each other. Do your best to make it a fun time for the kids and provide them moments they’ll recall with fondness. Frankly, I’m not sure what perfect means. Perhaps the perfect holiday is defined by your ability to enjoy the imperfections.

Regardless of how messy your holiday may be, I wish you peace, calm and a joyful spirit this holiday season. May you find strength and good will knowing that no matter what your circumstances, you’re not alone because I guarantee you someone out there knows exactly how you feel.

Happy Holidays!

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2014 in Divorce, holidays, Talking To Kids

 

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Presence Not Presents

Perhaps one of the most stressful things about the holidays is the pressure that the world around us puts on buying gifts. Between the catalogues, TV commercials, billboards, e-mail blasts and Web ads, someone is in your face every thirty seconds offering you 20% off, 50% off, 80% off, buy one get one free, free shipping and every other incentive you can think of to spend your money. And of course it’s all so you can show someone how much you love them. As if money = love.

Let’s get real for a moment shall we?

Don’t feel guilted into buying your kids Christmas. Yes they have wish lists. Yes Christmas morning is a magical moment for them. There’s2014-12-08 21.24.44no question about that. But having been through three or four Christmas’ as a divorced dad I can tell you this. What they’ll remember more than anything are the moments. What they’ll appreciate most, is time together with no arguing, fighting or yelling between adults.
Keep in mind, I’m not saying don’t buy them anything. Just don’t feel like buying them a bunch of stuff because you feel guilty about the divorce is the answer. If you’re like me, you still have to be smart about how much you’re spending. It helps to put boundaries on purchases and to have a plan.

One thing I started doing that helped was I gave myself a budget per kid. What I knew I could afford. Some years it’s been more than others and yes, I typically go over it, but starting with a visual financial guide really helps. I’m fortunate to be able to communicate with my ex regarding the big picture and we establish what the kids are going to get. But even if you’re not that lucky, make a list of what you want to get them and give yourself limits. This will help you avoid all of the extras we typically purchase on a whim when we really have no idea what we want to get them.

But the most valuable things you can give them are laughter, family, fond memories and you. They’re already stressed out about the holidays whether you’re divorced or not. What they need and want most is to know they matter. What they really need is your presence not your presents.

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2014 in Divorce, holidays, stress, Talking To Kids

 

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How Boys & Girls Handle Divorce

Each of us living as divorced parents have seen our children cope with the separation in their own unique ways. It should go without saying that no matter how much love and support and reassurance you offer your children, this isn’t going to be easy for them. But each child is going to react differently and I think it’s important to recognize that fact and do your share of reading on the subject to equip yourself as much as you can to help them through the transition and even years into the divorce.

One thing I’ve read in multiple publications is that boys tend to deal with divorce differently than girls. I have found it interesting that my girls were the first to try and set me up on Match.com while my son worked hard to get my ex and me back together. There are all kinds of theories on this subject, but reading comments from different readers I came upon one that really hit me. He said that as males, we tend to612px-Sapioheterosexuality_Symbol.svg_want to fix things. I thought back to my marriage and a flurry of memories of my wife saying, “I’m not asking you to fix anything I just want to tell you about what happened. You don’t need to act, just listen.” When My ex-wife would come to me with problems, my first inclination was to fix the problem she was sharing with me. So when I read this comment I was like, “well of course!”

Even if a young man knows that he was not at all responsible or to blame for a divorce, he’ll very likely feel some sense of failure in not being able to fix it. To him mommy and daddy’s relationship is broken. And his first tendency may be to want to fix it. If you’re working together as co-parents and generally get along in front of your kids this is going to be even more true since to him, it probably won’t take much to get mommy and daddy back on track.

Another great comment I read dealt with how we as parents handle the divorce ourselves. Are we acting as the victim? Or do we acknowledge and move on as strong, healthy adults? What are our children seeing when they see us deal with our ex or being a single parent? What do they see and hear? I think it’s important to recognize that every sight and sound those little eyes and ears are taking in has an impact. They’re paying very close attention and how they handle the divorce and being a child of divorce may very well depend on how you yourself handle it.

It’s easy to play the victim sometimes. It’s easy to shout out a negative. But is that really what our children need? Or do they need us to acknowledge and move on as strong independent adults? Pay close attention to your children. They will provide you all kinds of clues as to what they need from you. It’s simply up to you to tune in and provide them with a sense of security and knowledge that no matter what, both you and their mom will be there for them 100%.

Would love to hear your take on this subject.

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2014 in Divorce, Talking To Kids

 

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Holiday Stress on Kids

Anyone with kids will tell you that children go through a remarkable metamorphosis around the holidays. Their attention spans go out the window, their ability to listen – gone, their energy grows exponentially, their attention spans go out the win… whoops, already said that one. And underneath it all, sometimes quite well hidden, their stress levels are through the roof! My guess is this can be especially true if their parents are divorced.

Holidays are about families and this time of year is a stark reminder for all of us, our kids included, that things are diff2014-12-02 22.17.48erent. I’m sure conversations with their friends bring added focus to the differences between different households. Traditions between your house and their mom’s will likely shift a bit. There’s trying to figure out travel schedules to visit with different families. Then the travel and visiting with different families, which let’s face it, stresses me out, just imagine the kids. Oh and there’s always worrying how Santa will know which house they’re at. All of it adds up quickly. Then to top it off, we’re often so buried in our own piles of stress that we miss a lot of the clues of what our kids are going through assuming the kids are having fun because, hell, it’s the holidays!

More than once I’ve had to stop myself and recognize the reasons for things like stomach aches that appear out of nowhere, sudden outbursts of anger (even more so than usual), forgetfulness and an inability to sleep. (And I’m talking about the kids here btw.) Sometimes the best thing we can do for our kids is to simplify and just let it all happen. Lighten the calendar load where you can. Try not to pack too much into one day. Let them know the plan ahead of time so they can wrap their heads around it. Focus on the fun and do everything we can to give them our time and attention if for no other reason than to provide them a sense of calm and serenity during what can otherwise be a crazy time of year for both them and us.

The holidays have become a time of turning our worlds completely around. Because of this, we’re all moving at warp speed during these weeks. Sometimes it’s best to put it all in park, relax and share our Christmas wish lists over a cup of cocoa.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2014 in Divorce, holidays, Talking To Kids

 

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