Ending a marriage comes with many losses – it’s why we grieve, even if we’re the ones making the decision. Every mental health professional will tell you it is critical to recognize and grieve those losses. One of those losses is the family traditions – how you celebrated each holiday, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Valentine’s Day, or the First day of school. In grieving the loss of those traditions, it’s also important to create new ones, which can be important for your own emotional well-being and for your children (regardless of their age). That’s no small feat, especially when what you most feel like doing is ignoring the day altogether. So what should you do?
Life and parenting coach Mikki Gardner joins us today. Mikki works with women to help them move past the conflict and frustration of divorce to become confident co-parents and amazing examples to their children.
In This Episode
How important are those traditions that we have around these special occasions, such as the holidays?
Throw out the word “should” – Stop worrying about what the holiday should look like and take the pressure off so that you can start creating new traditions.
Let new traditions evolve – what you do this year may not be what you do next year.
Weigh out what’s important to you and what’s important to your children – maybe one holiday is more important to you than to your ex and vice versa. Use that to create a new tradition of where your children will be for that holiday in the present.
How do you talk to your children about making holiday plans?
Mikki sees the relationship between parent and child as co-collaborative: both sides are forming the relationship, rather than just one.
When it comes to making plans for the holidays, it’s important to let your child/ren give their input on what they want the plans to be. Even if you can’t make it happen, at least allow their voice to be heard and show them that you’ve heard it.
Open yourself up to what works for you and your kids – if a holiday is important to you and you aren’t with your kids that day, make yourself flexible and celebrate that moment on another day. A big holiday meal can happen on the last Thursday of November or it can happen on Friday or Saturday if that’s when you have your kids. If you love Christmas morning but don’t have that day with your kids, make it happen on the morning that you do. There is noshould for how holidays need to look.
What is conscious parenting?
Being a conscious and aware parent who responds to what is true as opposed to reacting. Reactive parenting is when you are thrown from thing to thing. In a co-parenting situation, you can be a wonderful, conscious parent without the participation of your ex.
When you are at the very beginning of a divorce, can you plan to spend a holiday with your STBX or ex? Would this be potentially harmful to children, especially young children, who may think that their parents are getting back together?
First of all, if spending a holiday with your ex is going to be too painful, don’t do it.
On average, it takes a parent 1-2 years to come down from the pain and anxiety of going through a divorce. Children are about a year behind their parents so take that into consideration when making your holiday plans. It may be too raw and painful now to spend this time together but, again, that won’t be the situation forever and traditions change and evolve.
What are the rules about spending holidays with your former in-laws?
Mikki shares the story of one of her clients who went through a painful divorce and her in-laws took her side. After some time passed, her client realized that it was too painful to spend time with her in-laws and told them so but also made it clear that she wanted them to be a part of her children’s lives.
Owning what’s true for you and being willing and ok with disappointing other people.
Language plays a huge part in these conversations and you may want to consider speaking to a professional in order to be able to speak to people you have a relationship with, such as your former in-laws.
Mikki’s Motto: “We don’t complain, but we don’t have to explain.” and, for your children, “I love you and no.”
Mikki Gardner is a certified Life and Conscious Parenting Coach. She is the host of the Co-Parenting with Confidence Podcast and has a private 1:1 coaching practice where she helps moms ditch the drama of divorce and become calm and confident co-parents without their ex’s participation. You can learn more about Mikki and her work on her website, MikkiGardner.com.
Mikki is a mom to her son and a bonus mom to 2 boys and a dog mom. She co-parents well with her ex-husband and his wife, her partner, and his ex-wife.
Mandy Walker is a divorce mediator and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® based in Boulder, Colorado. She works with individuals and couples helping them to end their relationships with dignity and respect, creating an understanding of the process and their options so they can feel confident in the decisions they’re making.