Christmas can be a lonely time for divorced parents, specifically for single dads. While men are being awarded custody more than ever in the past 20 years, studies show that the majority of men have either joint custody, or no custody. This quite often leads to single dads spending the holidays without their children, at least on the specific holiday (for example, Christmas day).
With that in mind, we thought we would write a post specifically for those single fathers out there, who want to keep the magic of Christmas alive with their children, even though they might not be able to be with them on Christmas day.
- Try to be amicable with your ex. It's great if you have an amicable and friendly relationship with your ex-wife all year round, but the reality is that many divorced parents struggle to maintain that kind of easy-going, friendly relationship with each other. Hurts, bitterness, and anger often get in the way. This holiday season though, we encourage you to try and put that aside, for your children. It will help your kids enjoy the true spirit of the holiday season!
- Don't overcompensate. Some fathers feel guilt about not being able to see their children very often, or in some cases for separating from their mother. This guilt sometimes lead to overcompensating, and buying elaborate and expensive gifts. Remember money does NOT prove that you love them. What will show them how much you love them is purchasing thoughtful gifts and spending time with them making holiday memories.
- Free up your schedule. Speaking of spending time with your children making holiday memories, make sure you clear your schedule to attend their school Christmas concert/play/party. You might be surprised at how much your attendance means to them. Even children who don't seem to care are usually secretly hoping their dad will be there, just like all their friend's dads will be. By all means, make time to attend these important functions!
- Don't get caught up in the Christmas frenzy. While we encourage you to make wonderful holiday memories by spending time with your children doing fun activities, it's also important not to get too caught up in the usual holiday frenzy. Don't spend all your time in the car shuffling from one function/outing to another. Spend some time just BEING with your kids and playing with them. This simple time spent together is much more meaningful than the number of holiday functions you can cram into one day!
- Make Christmas about more than just one day. Many single fathers won't actually be able to see their kids on Christmas day. Though it may make you sad and feel a bit lonely, don't focus too much on that one specific day. Yes, it is a special day, but your kids will remember more about the holidays than just that one specific day. They will remember the special activities you do together, and the memories you make. Perhaps negotiate a few extra days before or after Christmas day and use that time with them to create a true Christmas feeling. Chances are your kids will LOVE a Christmas that encompasses a 2-3 day time span, and not just one day!
- Be generous with your ex. Similar to what we discussed about trying to be amicable with your ex-wife during the holidays, consider making an effort to be generous to your ex in regards to time and feelings. Send a Christmas card, pick up the kids instead of having her drop them off, or make an effort to accommodate her schedule a bit. Christmas is a great time to build a bridge with your ex that will make the negotiations over the coming year a bit easier.
Divorce or separation during the holidays can be a difficult and lonely time. It's important to understand that your outlook and attitude can make your children's holiday season merry and bright or stressful and sad. That's why it's important to make an effort to keep the Christmas magic alive for your kids, even though you don't have the ability to be with them every day. We hope these tips help you create that magical feeling for your kids! Happy Holidays!