Barbara Rothberg, DSW, LCSW

Therapy, Coaching, Mediation and Parent Coordination


Its Holiday Time

W hat do kids want on holidays? Of course they want gifts, but they also want special experiences, even if they don't know that!

While holiday time can be stressful for families, we aim to make it good for the kids. If parents are not together the logistics need to be arranged. Who will have the children for the actual holiday? Will they split the time? Will they see both parents? will they alternate every year? will they have a joint celebration?  The answers to these questions depend on how well the parents get along and what they feel they can handle together. There is no "right" way, and ideally, both parents feel comfortable with the decisions and can communicate that to their kids. This is a wonderful opportunity to let your children know that both of you are on the same page and agree. The more divorced parents can agree, the calmer and more content their children will be.

Gift giving is a major event during the holiday season. Kids love to receive gifts, but they also love to have experiences that are fun. Developing  rituals that get repeated year after year add security, joy and comfort. For example, some families go to view a big Christmas tree at night and look at the lights. Others make an annual Chanukah party. Some bake holiday cookes. Some families get together with extended family and create extended family traditions, like playing specific games.  Kids generally are quite happy to share holiday events and look forward to them year after year. One eight year old told me the best thing about the holidays is the polar bear plunge that he does with his family every New Years's Day. This event is remembered year after year. He does not remember the gifts he received, but the memory of the event lives on for years. 

The same goes for gift giving for adults. If someone receives a beautiful sweater, they can certainly enjoy wearing it. But several years later, it will be just an old sweater in the closet. If on the experience side, someone invites a partner to jump on a trampoline, go to a climbing wall, or visit a special site in the city for a holiday gift,  the event will be remembered for years and will not become an old thing in the closet!

Being mindlful that holidays can be difficult, it is helpful to try to create good experiences that will live on and be remembered in a positive way.

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