Holidays with family can be stressful no matter what the circumstances. They are especially challenging for children with multiple “families”.
For adolescent children some of these challenges may include the addition of new extended family, siblings, parents, or the absence of family members that may have been present in the past.
It is important to be sensitive to the difficulty facing kids of divorce at this time of year. When it may seem that everyone is looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas, many children of divorce are anxious about navigating new or strained relationships in the artificial environments that are inevitable during the holidays.
For older or adult children with greater autonomy, the holidays can still be very difficult to navigate. In many cases after divorce, children perceive one parent as leading a noticeably happier life than the other. It is very hard to balance wanting to spend time around the holidays in a happy environment vs. trying to spend time with a parent who you perceive as “needing” your company.
This balance is incredibly difficult and is often a recipe for resentment on all sides.
As hard as it is, the best practice is to do what feels rights, without the pressure of familial obligation from any party. Is it more important to spend the holidays with family who you see less often? Should you be spending this time with siblings vs. parents? Which siblings are priorities? Will there be unpleasant interaction with extended family in either circumstance? These are a few of the questions that the children of divorce navigate around the holidays.