Navigating Important Celebrations as an Adult with Divorced Parents

Serving Families Throughout Palm Beach Gardens

Holidays, birthdays, important milestones and family celebrations can be a blast, but that isn’t always the case when dealing with complicated family relationships. Here are a few tips to make holidays and special events as painless as possible.

  1. Remember that you cannot make everyone happy all the time. The sense of obligation can be overwhelming and taxing even to the most relaxed adults. Licensed marriage and family therapist, Emily Cosgrove, points out that adult children of divorced parents are the most susceptible to this feeling of obligation. To please all parties, you will make yourself more stressed than usual and end up not enjoying some of the most special times of the year. It is okay to put yourself and your happiness first, but your mental state should not suffer to please those around you. Make your plans and stick to them, even if it may ruffle some feathers.
  2. Acknowledge hurt feelings, especially around the holidays. The holidays do not just bring about a sense of joy but may also stir up feelings of anger and sadness especially in the case of divorced families. If you decide to visit one parent and not the other during the holidays, you may feel a sense of sadness for choosing one over the other, and the parent who you have not chosen may feel bitter. By using effective communication to validate everyone’s feelings, you can help to ease the tension and keep the season bright. You can also form alternative plans with a parent who may feel left out. Examples include an early holiday dinner, an extra New Year’s Eve celebration, and celebrating birthdays multiple times.
  3. Set expectations early, do not wait until the night before an event to announce plans. Let everyone know in advance how you are going to spend the holidays, vacations, children’s birthdays, etc. This tactic can help to eliminate last minute hurt feelings and can help all parties involved effectively communicate and set plans so everyone knows what’s going on.
  4. If you’re the parent/in-law in this situation, remember that all parties are trying their best. Be kind and flexible with your children, they are trying to make everything “work” and make time for everyone. Be sure to enjoy the time you get to spend with your children / grandchildren and let them know you appreciate the effort they’ve made. Even if that means celebrating on a different weekend.

No family is perfect, and no family has it all figured out. Remember to keep an open dialogue and set realistic expectations for all parties. You can’t stop important celebrations from coming, but you can take the driver seat and control how you spend them.

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John Schutz

John Schutz

Partner at John F. Schutz, P.L.

Representing clients exclusively in family law cases for the past 24 years, Mr. Schutz is widely regarded as a marital and family law expert. He is Board Certified in marital and family law by The Florida Bar. As a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), Mr. Schutz is committed to elevating the standards and improving the practice of family law.

John Schutz

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