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For children of divorce, holidays can be lonely and difficult

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and New York residents are busy making final arrangements for where to spend the holidays and with whom. For many, the holidays are about tradition and spending time with close family and friends. As such, the holidays can be an especially difficult time for both parents and children who have recently been impacted by divorce.

A child is often confused, sad and angry that his or her parents divorced. These feelings can linger for years and may be especially strong around the holidays. Depending on a child's age, he or she may have memories of past holidays that were spent under one roof when mom and dad were together. The holidays, therefore, may trigger many of these memories which can be difficult for any child, young or old.

Whether this is the first holiday season after a divorce or the tenth, there are things divorced parents can do to help a child cope with the negative feelings or emotions they may be experiencing. First, it's critical to set a positive tone. It’s best for a mother or father to remain upbeat and positive when discussing the upcoming holidays, and to strive to ensure the holiday season is filled with both old and new traditions.

It's also important for divorced parents to understand that a child may be sad during this otherwise celebratory time of year, and that's ok. Divorced parents should encourage a child to acknowledge and discuss their feelings freely and openly. While this can be difficult for both parent and child, it's important for a child to know their feelings and opinions are valid and important.

One of the most beneficial things divorced parents can do for their children during the holidays is to serve as positive role models. Doing so, however, can be a challenge for some divorced parents when discussing or interacting with an ex-partner or ex-spouse. While a parent's feelings of anger and resentment towards an ex may be warranted, parents are advised to act cordial and civil towards an ex at all times. This is especially important around the holidays when a child may be having an especially difficult time.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Divorced Parents: How to Help Your Kids Get Through the Holidays," Rosalind Sedacca, Noc. 11, 2013

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