Tag Archives: coping with divorce

Thanks-parting: Dealing with Divorce on Thanksgiving

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If you’ve been through a divorce recently, you are certainly more than aware of how different (and sometimes difficult) each day can be.  This goes tenfold for the holidays.  

The first Thanksgiving that you spend away from your ex-partner is bound to be a trying time.  A day synonymous with familial joy and “coming together” will naturally seem a little heavy when on your own.  Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to keep the painful memory pangs to a minimum and the glorious gravy enjoyment to a maximum. 

Ring in the new

It’s obvious that this day will inadvertently drudge up memories of previous Thanksgiving celebrations.  Some of these memories may be quite pleasant, others can be the utter opposite.  One way to combat these ghosts is to change things up.  By creating new habits for the day and devising fresh traditions, your mind will be focused on the tasks at hand, rather than languishing in previous experiences.  One potential benefit, right off the bat, is that if you used to spend the day with your ex’s fam, you’re now entirely free of that shackle.  You can visit with your own clan, or a specific group of friends, if you choose.  Forget cooking and go out for dinner.  Even better, really relish in what the holiday is all about; thank your lucky stars that you have what you have and volunteer at a homeless shelter, doling out seasonal food.  Whatever you do, the past customs that you and your ex engaged in will be a faint memory as you create entirely new moments this year. 

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Talk turkey 

Granted, this is a time of thankfulness and grateful reflection, but you’ve been through a rough year and can’t be expected to simply grin through the pain.  It’s actually the perfect time to pull that special relative or comrade aside and let your emotions flow freely.  With the abundance of caring people conveniently assembled, odds are that there will be a trusted someone (or several) that you can talk to.  Not suggesting to turn this whole event in a pity party, but go someplace private and unburden yourself.  You’ll feel some of that emotional weight instantly lifted so you can fully enjoy the rest of the festivities.  Remember, this may be an overwhelmingly hard time for you, but you should be considerate of other people’s feelings too; it’s their day as well.

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The Kid’s Table  

As with many divorce related issues, the hardest aspect can be if children are in the mix.  One thing that can assuage the troublesome topic of how to divide their time (between you and your ex) is to be calm and ready to compromise.  Maybe you have to relinquish them for the actual day, but then get to spend Black Friday with them, shopping with glee.  The point is that arguing with your ex about who goes where and when will only acerbate the situation and make everyone feel tense.  Just be reasonable and think of your kids’ feelings; nobody wants to hear about how mom/dad is ruining the holiday by _______; your ex is still your child’s parent, a pivotal person in their lives forever, and badmouthing them always makes you look bad.  

Give thanks

Whether your family is the type that goes around the table before the turkey is cut and everyone states what they are thankful for, or if it’s just tacitly implied, a large component of this holiday is the expression of gratitude.  Take a few minutes to sit down and write out (or type) what you personally have to be thankful for this year.  Go through everything you can think of, big and small.  This simple exercise will soon have you seeing just how bright the silver lining in this divorce cloud is, as a bevy of wonderful things flows from your mind and on to the page.  By assessing all of the gifts you have in your life, you can crystalize a plan for the future, or just sit back and revel in the positive mindset you’re now in.  

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No matter what anyone says, this may be a particularly hard time for you to get through.  Try to relax and follow the aforementioned steps to the best of your ability.  Just remember that life truly does go on, and once the day is done and everyone has returned to their prospective homes, there still will be the scrumptious leftovers to feast on later.  

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 -Joe Leone 

How to Handle Your Little Monsters

Dealing with Kids of Divorce on Halloween

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The pumpkins are carved, the ghosts are hung and the Disney Princess and Storm Trooper costumes have been purchased.  Everything is all set for creepily jovial, sugar-high fueled fun!  Everything, that is, except the logistics regarding who is taking the kids trick-or-treating; you or your ex.  Uh-oh.  This could be a potentially frightening night, for all the wrong reasons.

Before you end up forever haunted by the memory of this spooky holiday, let’s take a look at what the divorce experts have to say about successfully wrangling the wee ones this year.  We’ve collected information from Diane L. Danois, J.D., bonusfamilies, hermentorcenter.com, brendashoshanna.weebly.com and divorce360.com in an effort to keep the kids grinning widely on this much Hallowed Eve.

Some holidays can be tough for divorced parents; luckily Halloween typically isn’t one of them

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Determining who will have custody of the kids on Christmas/Hanukkah or Thanksgiving can be a truly trying experience.  Expectations from both sides of the families can be huge (“I need to see my beautiful grandchildren on the high holy days!”)  Thankfully, Halloween isn’t really viewed as that important to most parents (the kids don’t even get off from school), so relinquishing control of the tykes usually isn’t that big of a deal.  On the other hand, Halloween is very highly regarded in the kid community as much celebrated and glorious day (they get to dress up AND eat a bag a’ candy), so it’s important to think about their wants more than your own.

Come Together?

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Unlike a lot of other holidays, actually sharing the evening experience with your ex can be decent (granted, depending on how much you would like to see your ex as an actual skeleton, of course).  The kids are obviously adorable in their little Batman and Frozen outfits and the atmosphere is generally light (despite the frolicking devils, witches and demons, naturally).  Pairing up with your ex partner to drive your offspring door to door to beg for cavity inducing morsels can be a relatively harmless experience, all things considered.

Pick your Poison

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If you fall into the ‘I can’t even be in the same room as my ex without taking a machete to them’ camp, then taking the kids out together is not really an option.  So, you need to decide who will mind them.  The easiest solution?  Whoever enjoys the holiday more themselves should take them.  Meaning, if you revel in all the ghoulish elements yourself, the result is that your children will have more fun with you.  The whole point of this day is for your babes to have a good time, so obviously put their interests first (C’mon, you’re a parent; you should be beyond used to this).  Another factor that can help you and your ex decide who should have them this eerie eve is if your kids have a group of like-minded goblins they want to troll a particular neighborhood for Reese’s with.  If they have a set cadre of trick/treating chums, let whichever parent is more conveniently situated, geographically, have them.  It just makes the most sense and won’t confuse the kids at all.

You’re the (Boogey) Boss

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All of the professionals in the child psychology field unanimously seem to agree that this should be your decision (who takes whom), not your kids.  Putting them in the middle is not a good idea (clearly there are few, if any, circumstances where this is advocated).  You and your ex should determine who’s taking them beforehand and then that’s it, end of discussion.  The final nail in the coffin…

Play Nice

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As with all holidays in general, the kinder you can be (or at least appear) to your ex in front of your kids, the better for their overall well-being.  Nobody wants to see Mummy and Dad-ula arguing about petty things on a day that’s supposed to be full of creepy cheer.  Slap a grin on your face and get through the day; you’ll have the rapidly approaching Thanksgiving to grumble about soon enough.

Keep your Solo Spirits Up!

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Finally, if you hand the kids off to your ex and will be spending the night by your lonesome, don’t let the little ones think you are sad about it.  Wish them luck in scaring the other kids so bad that they wet their pants, kiss their clown-make-up laden cheeks, check to see if they’re wearing those annoying reflectors you got them and send them on their merry way.  Even if you’ll be Netflixing a scary movie all alone, make sure the kids think you are genuinely happy about it.  Nobody wants to treat-or-treat while thinking about how sad their left behind parent is (womp womp).

Follow these scarily simple tips and a good night will be had by all.  Then, you will have truly earned the right to ransack their sugary loot and gorge yourself silly on mini-Snickers.

-Joe Leone 

Things Only a Divorced Parent Understands

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Amicable or not, getting divorced is never going to be a picnic.

When there are children in the equation, things can be exponentially more challenging/maddening.  Aside from the initial concern of “How is this ordeal affecting my delicate offspring?” there are a variety of other issues sure to pop up.   There’s the time you will have to spend apart from your kids, their newfound perception of you and a host of other mentally taxing dilemmas only a single-parent can comprehend.

Here’s a list of the common conundrums that we’ve identified, and how they ultimately can translate into positive experiences in the end.

  • “You’re no fun!” – nothing can be as infuriating as hearing about how much FUN it is at your ex-spouse’s domicile of debauchery.  “Dad let’s me eat Count Chocula for dinner!” …sorry, guess you’re the über boring one since you care about your child’s health.

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positive spin:  When your children are older/grown, they will recognize they you were the parent who was truly looking out for their welfare, and not just providing easy/popular solutions.

  • It can feel a trifle lonely when your child is at your ex’s, ostensibly having a good time without you.  You used to be instrumental in everything they did – now you may feel like your watching from the sidelines.

positive spin: When your child comes home and tells you how much they missed you.  This will never get old.

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  • You now have to monitor every little word that escapes your mouth, as your spawn gobbles them up and giddily reiterates them to your ex.  Heaven forbid if you should accidentally let a remark specifically about your former spouse slip out…

positive spin: Realize that the exact opposite applies.  If your ex says anything about you, it is instantly recorded by your kids as well – so they need to watch their mouths too.

  • Living in constant fear of whose “side” your shared friends will be on.  Whichever parent these people pledge allegiance to will be perceived by the tykes and this inevitably causes them/you anxiety.

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positive spin:  Once things are settled, you then know who your real friends truly are.

  • Determining which rules will be steadfast and should be observed in both parents’ homes.  Is mom saying the kids can stay up to watch Jimmy Fallon, while you want them tucked in before the early edition news broadcast starts?

positive spin:  No matter how contentious your relationship may be with your ex, there will always be some common ground you can reach regarding your kid’s upbringing.

  • Having to hide the emotional lilt in your voice because you physically can’t give your baby a ‘goodnight kiss’ over the phone.

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positive spin:  Again, when you are reunited with your child, their hugs feel that much more magical.

  • Having to show up “childless” to certain extended family functions/holidays because your kid is enjoying the day with your ex and their bizarro family.

positive spin:  Secretly knowing that they have more fun with you and your (possibly equally crazy) clan.

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  • The stabbing pain of hearing your little one cry out “I need mommy/daddy!” …when that parent isn’t you.  It never was all that great before to listen to how you were unneeded in a situation of tantamount importance to them, but now it holds a truly acrimonious tinge.

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positive spin:  Undoubtedly, there are times when they are with your ex and shriek for you in that “end of the world” tone that only children not getting exactly what they want can attain.

  • When you have to ignore/feign that you don’t see the close-knit, smiley family (with both a Mom AND Dad in attendance) enjoying their Pizza Hut dinner feast, while you and you child somberly eat in solitude.

positive spin:  Having the time to focus all of your attention on your kids when you are with them (without the potential distractions of a partner who always seems to want to argue).

  • Not hearing your child’s laughter in the halls when they are at your ex’s for the night.

positive spin: Having license to engage in passionate, grunt-inducing intercourse with a new lover and not having to worry in the slightest that your kid will hear.

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  • When you finally have a new and possibly serious beau, deciding if and when the right time is to present them to your kids.  Will they instantly resent him/her?  Also, maybe this new partner is not good with kids? (Clearly, a deal-breaker – but truly stinks if you like them otherwise)

positive spin:  Inadvertently, your kids can help you quickly weed out people you may be looking at with rose-colored glasses, who are really not going to be great mates in the long run.

  • Feeling the inverse: does your child like your ex’s new “person” more than you??  Will you be “replaced”?

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positive spin:  When these type of questions unsuspectingly pop up in your brain, it’s a good time to take a moment and truly assess the situation.  When you remind yourself that these fears are completely unfounded and irrational, it gives you real clarity and peace of mind.

  • Trying to deal with/suppress feelings of supreme GUILT.  Do my kids think the break-up is my fault?  Are their new problems in school/ extra-curricular activities/PlayStation ultimately my doing??

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positive spin:  If you are really worried about these things, it’s always good to open the lines of communication with your child.  As long as you present any issues in a sensitive manner, your child may be forthcoming and tell you their own fears.  Then the two of you can come to a real place of resolution.

  • Fighting to stay awake at work the day after you had to stay up with your baby as they did battle with a scary cold through the entire night.  When it’s “your night,” being a single parent means having all the responsibly squarely on you.

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positive spin:  At least you get to sleep in when it’s “their” turn.

  • Worrying about how screaming matches with your ex may have negatively affected your children.

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positive spin: Finally letting out that built-up, monumental sigh of relief when you realize you can love and raise your child in a home without constant spousal bickering, mistrust and tension.

  • Staying up at night, wondering if you’ve been doing the right thing.

positive spin: When it finally dawns on you that your child will love you, no matter what.

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-Joe Leone 

5 Songs About Divorce

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Music is what feelings sound like, and for some, those feelings revolve around divorce. Below are a few songs–some surprising, and some not so surprising–that epitomize the famous Hans Christian Andersen quote, “When words fail, music speaks.”

“D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” by Tammy Wynett

Perhaps the most obvious songs about divorce is “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” the 1968 single by Tammy Wynett off of the #1 album of the same name. This tearjerker of a song is the essence of Tammy’s traditional twang. It describes the emotions of a woman’s divorce through a reflection of its effect on her young son, in front of whom the couple spelled out words to protect him. The song was extremely popular, and was quickly covered by Dolly Parton, Dottie West, Duane Allman and the Hour Glass, and Alex Chilton. Wynett herself re-recorded the song in 1973, a version that was used in Brokeback Mountain.
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