How Do Kids Really Feel About Celebrating Christmas at Separate Houses? IS ONE CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION REALLY BETTER THAN TWO?
This time of year, everyone seems to be dusting off old family traditions as they prepare for the festivities on the horizon. At some point during this month, many will attend an ugly-sweater party, exchange white-elephant presents, and watch “A Christmas Story” at least 10 times. But for a lot of divorced parents, there is a underlying, darker feeling beneath these joyous holiday customs: guilt. Why might a parent feel guilty during the holiday season? The short answer is that they feel bad that their child has to have two Christmas celebrations. Yes, the idea that a child has to spend Christmas with Mom at her house and with Dad at his house could be problematic, but it doesn’t have to be. Societal depictions of the holidays say the ideal celebration should look like this: Two loving parents wearing Santa hats are sneaking down the stairs to leave presents under the tree. Because divorced parents live in separate households, they can’t participate in this prototypical version of Christmas. They might feel like they aren’t making the experience all it can be for their kids or that they have shattered the image of the holiday, which leaves them feeling nothing but guilt. Caught up in their own emotional turmoil, parents neglect to ask their children how they feel about the situation. Do they feel like they aren’t getting the full Christmas experience? Do they feel like they are
missing out? Or are they actually excited about having two Christmas celebrations instead of one? While no one on our team is a family therapist, we can draw from our own experiences for guidance. One team member explains, “My parents divorced when I was 3 years old. Up until this year — over two decades later — I’ve spent Christmas morning with my mom and the afternoon with my dad. I can’t remember a single Christmas where I felt that I missed out on the happiness that surrounds this holiday. Yes, outside factors, such as those made-for-TV Christmas specials that depict a perfectly happy couple, made me feel that my holiday celebrations were different than others. But still, I never felt like my experience was second rate. In fact, in my formative (and perhaps more greedy) years, I was just thrilled that I got to have ... twice the amount of presents. As an adult, I recognize that none of this would have been possible had my parents let the negative feelings they had for one another permeate my own experience. My Christmas traditions are what they are because of their positive and selfless approach.” Regardless of whether this upcoming Christmas signals your first holiday as a divorced parent or you have been navigating a holiday custodial agreement for years, take some time this year to ascertain your kids’ true feelings about Christmas. Children are intuitive, so if you are suffering from guilt or sadness, chances are, they know. And they’ll often take responsibility for it too. Kids want their parents to be happy, so even if you are struggling to stay positive, try to put a smile on your face for your kids’ sakes. Don’t make your kids feel guilty; help them feel excited about having two Christmases instead of just one.
This month, we had a Khaki University held by Ara Ko, a leadership coach and trainer with the John Maxwell Team. Ara came to talk to us about how to increase value for our clients. OFFICE HAPPENINGS!
Ideas for Fending Off Boredom and Keeping Kids Happily Entertained ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT THE UPCOMING WINTER BREAK?
Holiday breaks can be the bane of a parent’s existence. Moms and dads start off the break with idyllic images in their heads: snuggling, making hot cocoa, and going for nice strolls in the crisp winter air. Most often than not, these amazing plans quickly devolve and parents go into survival mode. You may love having the extra time to spend with your kids, but keeping them preoccupied when the weather doesn’t cooperate might make you consider pulling your hair out. While you can’t plan for every contingency during Christmas break, we want to offer you a few activities that can help stave off boredom and keep your kids happy and engaged. ARTS AND CRAFTS If you have long list of people to give presents to this Christmas, you can keep your kids busy by having them make sentimental DIY gifts. One great option is homemade ornaments. You can find an easy recipe for snow clay online. Have them mold it into a shape — like
a candy cane, a Christmas tree, or a circle they can put their handprint on. Then let it dry and have them paint it. You could also have them make paper snowflakes to decorate the tree, a luminary ornament jar, or no-sew blankets as well! SERVICE PROJECTS This is the time of year when many are looking for ways to give back. Why not involve your kids in giving back this year? Some ideas include raking leaves or shoveling snow for elderly neighbors; baking cookies for local police officers or firefighters; or making boxes of goodies for ill children. LOCAL SPOTS During the entire month of December, you can check out the electrical extravaganza spectacle down at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. The display features the new high- tech “Nature’s Wonders,” which illuminates the world’s natural phenomena through countless
strands of synchronized dancing lights. You can also take the kids to the Georgia Aquarium for the Festival of the SEAson, where they can see both Santa and SCUBA Claus and the annual tree-lighting ceremony. After spending time crafting, helping their community, and visiting wonderful shows around town, hopefully the kids will have burned off enough energy to enjoy my all-time favorite activity — reading stories together snuggled up in some blankets.
DEALING WITH GIFT-GIVING DILEMMAS When the Clauses Get a Divorce
When it comes to giving gifts around the holidays, what parent doesn’t like to see their child’s face light up after ripping off the wrapping paper? Wanting to buy that special something for your kid is understandable, but make sure that you avoid getting caught up in the vicious game of trying to out-gift your former spouse. For most children, the holiday season is the time they’ve been waiting for all year long, but a present battle between parents can quickly ruin their entire experience.
then your child should be able to take it with them when they want to.
TAKE THE HIGH ROAD Children will often want to give gifts to both parents, but they don’t have the means to purchase or make something nice. While shopping for a Christmas present for your ex-spouse might sound awful, it’s important to separate your feelings from your kids’ needs. Try to keep gestures appropriate and help your kids make good gift choices. When kids grow up, they will most likely not remember exactly who gave what to whom, but they will remember the general sentiment of the gift exchange process. Create wonderful, peaceful, and generous moments with your kids that they will pass on to their own families.
This holiday season, remember that you are a parent first and a divorcé or divorcée second. No matter the emotional turmoil you might be forced to suffer through this Christmas, try to remind yourself of the ultimate goal: infusing your children with positive memories. We know this is easier said that done, so we’ve compiled some tips that might help. COORDINATE GIFTS If possible, make time to consult with the other parent about how to handle holiday shopping. If there is an expensive gift on your child’s list,
consider suggesting a joint purchase. If you don’t have a cooperative relationship with your former spouse, then do your best to purchase responsibly and save receipts in case double purchases occur. CUT THE STRINGS One common gift-giving dilemma that can put a lot of pressure on kids is deciding where the gift should stay: at Mom’s house or Dad’s house. Of course, it can be difficult to purchase your child something nice and see them take it to the other household to play with. But if a gift is truly a gift,
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30-MINUTE CAULIFLOWER SOUP
DIRECTIONS • 1 small head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cored and sliced • 1 leek, chopped • 1 medium onion, chopped • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth • 1/2 cup heavy cream • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil • Salt and pepper, to taste 1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter into warm oil. Add onion and leek, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, about 10–12 minutes. 2. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add cauliflower, broth, and cream. Simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes. 3. Using a blender, purée in batches until smooth. 4. Top servings with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of pepper.
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Inside This Issue
How Do Kids Really Feel About Celebrating Christmas at Separate Houses?
How to Keep Kids Happily Entertained This Winter Break
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Gift-Giving Tips for Divorced Parents
30-Minute Cauliflower Soup
Teach Your Kids About Holidays
Multicultural Celebrations Teach Your Kids About Winter Holidays
According to the Pew Research Center, Christmas is the most celebrated December holiday in the U.S. Yet, like the melting pot it is, the U.S. contains many cultures from across the globe, each with their own traditions. Teach your kids about some of the holiday celebrations from different cultures this season. KWANZAA Created in 1966 by black studies professor Maulana Karenga during the Black Nationalist Movement, Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration and reflection period for African Americans. The week offers African Americans the opportunity to connect with African culture and history by celebrating the seven principles of African heritage, which include unity, self-determination, and creativity. HANUKKAH Hanukkah pays homage to a two-year Jewish rebellion against an oppressive Greek-Syrian government that took them captive in an attempt to eliminate Judaism. The tradition of the eight-day celebration and the
lighting of the menorah candles comes from the story of a miracle that happened during the rebellion, when a one-day supply of oil burned for eight days in a temple. DIWALI Though celebrated in late fall, Diwali is a Hindu holiday that’s known as the festival of lights. Its main purpose is to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, and the five-day festival includes the lighting of candles or lamps, feasting, and giving gifts to family and friends. Diwali also celebrates the Hindu new year and is the largest, most widely celebrated festival in India. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but educating your children about holiday practices other than Christmas will give them a broader worldview and inspire them to gain further knowledge about cultures outside their own. Your local library is a great resource for children’s literature on these holidays, and there are also TV programs from PBS that feature episodes on these traditions. Enjoy the winter holiday season, however you decide to celebrate!
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