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5 Ways to Ruin Your Kids' Holiday

A List of Common Mistakes to Avoid This Holiday Season

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Ruin your children's holiday? You wouldn't dream of it. But what about the things you might do unintentionally that can have a negative impact on your kids' overall enjoyment of the holiday season? Here are 5 mistakes to avoid as you celebrate the holiday:

1. Argue Over Your Kids' Holiday Visitation Schedule

Of course you have strong ideas about how you want the holiday season to go. After all, there are just certain events that wouldn't feel the same without your kids! But they also have a right to spend part of the holiday with their other parent, even if doing so leaves you feeling lonely.

To take the focus off your own disappointment, try to think about what a gift giving your blessing is to your kids. In addition, developing a reasonable holiday visitation schedule ahead of time can significantly reduce your discomfort. Then, while the kids are gone, make plans to do something for yourself that you would have been unable to enjoy with them, such as getting together with some friends or ordering take-out from your favorite restaurant.

2. Refuse to Talk About the Other Parent

Especially if your separation or loss is recent, you may be tempted to avoiding talking about the other parent altogether. However, part of helping your children grieve is allowing them to fully express themselves.

At the same time, though, you have to anticipate how their grief will affect you. In order to make sure that you can withstand reliving certain memories with your children during this difficult time, make sure that you have a support network of friends and family members whom you can rely on. In addition, know that you're welcome in the Single Parents Forum any time, day or night.

3. Overcompensate Your Children's Loss With "Stuff"

It's easy to think that you can make your kids' holiday a little bit brighter by buying them more and more "stuff." However, in the end, this tactic will leave them feeling empty and unfulfilled. What they really want most is time in your presence. So rather than heading out to buy one more toy or video game, consider popping some popcorn and watching a holiday movie together instead, or heading out to the mall to people watch and share a cup of hot cocoa.

4. Change: Too Much or Too Little

Right now, your kids need your help finding a balance between honoring the past and creating the future. Enforcing too much change right now is something that might make you feel better temporarily, but would be very unsettling for your kids. At the same time, refusing to incorporate any change at all is unrealistic and can leave your children feeling stifled in their effort to grow beyond the loss they've experienced.

The best way to find a balance that suits all of your needs is to talk about your desires as a family. Together, decide what traditions to keep and which new ideas you want to explore.

5. Reject All Offers to Help or to Include Your Family in Holiday Celebrations

Finally, don't make the mistake of being too prideful to accept an invitation to join another family for a holiday dinner celebration, or a neighbor's offer to help you wrap gifts. It truly does "take a village" to raise children well, so try to look as these invitations as a gift instead of viewing them as pity or reminders of your loss. It may turn out that the distraction of another's family's festivities may be just what you and your children need as you begin to build new and fulfilling holiday traditions.

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