December 1, 2018

Holiday Presence

pexels-photo-704149Who would ever ask for a two month supply of elevated cortisol and high anxiety in their Christmas stocking!  Yet for many, the holiday season adds to rather than relieves stress as parents feel obliged to layer Hallmark fantasies about “the most wonderful time of the year” onto work demands, gift shopping, extra food preparation, children’s activities, cleaning and decorating.  The holiday season can feel challenging during the best of times.

What about when holidays fall during one of the most difficult of times, when parents are in the process of separating or getting unmarried?  While feeling overwhelmed themselves, many parents worry that their divorces will cast a pall on Christmas or Hanukkah or winter solstice activities for their children.  Your kids don’t benefit if you make yourself miserable with unrealistic expectations for “business as usual” over the holidays if you’re running on empty and in pain.  But it’s also unfair to them to completely pull the plug on holiday celebrations for the same reasons.

More than presents, your children need your presence, love and support, as they deal with their own feelings of sadness and loss about the family change. The winter holidays are all about hope and light, which children need to thrive, so help them find moments with you to experience them both:

  • Have a clarifying discussion with your co-parent about what to expect in terms of help with holiday rituals like decorating the house, shared gift-giving for the kids and possible shared activities like Christmas morning or one of the nights of Hanukkah.
  • Decide with your kids (or for them, depending on their ages) on a few heart-felt and meaningful ways to celebrate.  Having a do-able game plan can relieve stress. Now is a good time to create new rituals as well as honor the old.
  • Be authentic and set realistic expectations for activities and gifts if your energy and finances are low.  Resist any urge to blame your co-parent.  Putting your kids in the middle is guaranteed to make them unhappy.
  • Actively enlist your support system this year.  Most people who care about you will want to help, so give them a way. Cookies made by a friend or family member will be just as delicious, and someone would love to help you set up your tree.  Meet with your therapist, go to the gym, get that massage.
  • Affirm your support for your kids to enjoy holiday activities with both sides of their extended family.  When you are not with them, focus not on resentment, but on resting, renewing and recharging in the true spirit of the season.

Deborah ClemmensenABOUT THE AUTHOR
Deborah Clemmensen
Licensed Psychologist

Deborah Clemmensen, M.Eq., Licensed Psychologist was a child and family clinician for many years before her discovery of Collaborative Team Practice in 2000 motivated the transformation of her professional role from therapist to Neutral Child Specialist. This work---hearing the voices of every family member during a divorce or break up, keeping children at the center and out of the middle, and assisting parents in the creation of developmentally responsive parenting plans---is both a passion and a privilege. Find out more about Deborah's work at www.deborahclemmensen.com

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October 22, 2018

Health Insurance Season

Categories: Money and Finances

It’s that time of year again, when the trees become bare and days grow short, that one’s thoughts turn to health insurance. That’s right, the open enrollment window for renewing your existing health insurance plan or shopping for a new plan Continue reading…

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August 18, 2018

Reduced Fee Divorce – For Couples Who Want a Respectful, Collaborative Divorce

Categories: Collaborative LawDivorce

If you want a respectful, affordable and uncontested divorce without breaking the bank, you’ll want to consider a Collaborative Divorce. Do you have a reasonable level of trust and ability to work together with your spous if you have the Continue reading…

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July 15, 2018

How Can a Mortgage Professional Help With Divorce?

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway…divorces are complicated! There are many questions that an experienced mortgage professional can help answer before you finalize your divorce. For example: Can one of us afford the family home or do Continue reading…

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June 30, 2018

Negotiating Better Outcomes in Divorce

Categories: Divorce

Understanding the difference between interests and positions could make all of the difference in helping you negotiate a better outcome in your divorce. Position-Based Bargaining: Most people have a tendency to negotiate by arguing in favor of their positions. In Continue reading…

June 15, 2018

Uncontested Divorce: Should We do it Ourselves?

Have you ever wondered about how to do something that felt daunting but maybe not super complicated (baking a perfect soufflé, building a patio, learning to golf) and decided to follow the advice to “Just look on YouTube!”  So you Continue reading…

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June 1, 2018

Top Tips to help you Thrive Financially

Your divorce is over. It’s time to start sorting through all the things you need to do, to get your financial life in order.  Here are just a few tips to help you thrive financially, as you move into this Continue reading…

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May 20, 2018

ASD, Lockdowns, and Valentine’s Day 2018 – Part 2

April is Autism Awareness Month, the two month anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, and the 19th anniversary of Columbine.  Why talk about ASD and school shootings in the same sentence?  And why a divorce blog?  I Continue reading…

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April 8, 2018

Counseling at Law (part 2)

Last time I wrote about some of the realities of the divorce process and some of the different ways by which a final divorce decree can be created.  It may have come as a surprise to learn that a couple Continue reading…

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March 18, 2018

Counselling at Law

I am a Counselor at Law. I have been for more than 37 years, although I’m not sure how valuable my counsel would have been then. Today, most of the questions I’m asked center around divorce. -My wife/husband wants a Continue reading…

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