The holidays can be difficult for everyone given the challenges that come with having family together in one place for an extended period of time. This is especially true in cases where families have recently experienced divorce. Though divorce involving young children can require careful handling, it is often forgotten that those where the children are adults also lead to special challenges.
Though the holidays may be stressful and anxiety producing, there are ways to minimize the discomfort associated with juggling time with your recently divorced parents. The following are some tips from a Huffington Post writer who herself is an adult child of recently divorced parents.
The very first bit of advice the author offers is to be yourself and stop pretending that everything is fine. The act of keeping up appearances can be even more painful than owning the fact that the divorce has made things difficult. Expressing genuine emotions when they occur is better for everyone in the long run, even if it feels a little uncomfortable at first.
Don't be afraid to draw boundaries
Adult children may often be eager to ensure things remain smooth with both parents and be more tolerate of undesired behavior. If you feel crowded or worry that one parent will monopolize your time, it is perfectly acceptable to choose to stay in a hotel or with another relative when going home. Tying yourself up with one parent or staying in your childhood home may make the ordeal more difficult when you could benefit from a little space.
Offer to host
Though it may be tradition that your parents host the annual holiday gathering or meal, this may be a great time to create a new family tradition. After all, if one parent hosts, the other may not be allowed (or feel welcome enough) to attend. By changing things up and offering to host at your home, you create a kind of neutral ground where everyone may feel comfortable enough to interact. Though this isn't guaranteed, especially if the divorce is recent, it does improve your odds of having a less emotionally charged gathering.
You aren't in charge of keeping your parents happy
As adult children of divorce, you often carry the burden of feeling responsible for your parents' happiness. This isn't fair, and it is not your job to ensure a happy holiday for all. Be present, be supportive, be understanding – and that's all you need to worry about. Your parents' mood depends on many things, almost none of which you have any control over.
Source: “Adult Children With Recently Divorced Parents: 10 Ways to Navigate the Holidays,” by Adrienne Partridge, published at HuffingtonPost.com.