Little people need a big people advocate in the new year


As we are approaching a new year I want to challenge all of you to represent the little people at the big people’s table. What do I mean by that? I mean that many “little people” of divorce are going to be terribly stressed out as we approach the new year. They are going to need a big people advocate.

Holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas are not exciting or happy days for some children of divorce. Right after Halloween they start thinking about where they will spend what day. They also hear their parents talking and maybe even arguing about when each one will have the children on what day.

Routines get changed and this causes undue stress on the kids. Routines create a sense of security for many children. They count on a particular thing happening at certain times. The kids of divorce may have gotten use to the every other weekend routine or the every other week routine and along comes the holidays and everything changes. All of a sudden the child comes upon a holiday On that day the child has to celebrate with each parent and it’s not even a weekend day.

Looking at a holiday schedule

Let’s take the day called “Thanksgiving” and look in on a child of divorce and their typical Thanksgiving Day schedule.

  • The child wakes up at moms on Thanksgiving Day. It is her week and the child expects to stay at moms until Friday night when the switching hour comes and they will go over to dads.
  • On this one particular Thursday morning Mom whisks the child up and takes the child to her mother’s house where all the cousins begin arriving. Everyone is excited about the big meal.
  • After the meal all the cousins get involved in games and playing together.
  • All of a sudden in the middle of playing with the cousins the kid gets packed up and taken to dad’s home.
  • Dad takes the child to his mom’s house where the child has to re-enter another scene with cousins but these cousins have already been together all morning.
  • The child has to navigate into the structure of this scenario, which is not easy for some children of divorce. The may hold back embarrassed that they don’t know what is going on.
  • The child eats another Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Just about the time the child begins to feel comfortable and accepted – whoops they are whisked off to another house. This is the house of the dad’s girlfriend’s parents.

It is not unusual for some of these kids to eat three or even four large meals on this day called Thanksgiving. It becomes a not so fun day for the child.

After the holidays and all the excitement these kids have to go back to school and to their routines. Many are exhausted and others have been reminded what the “old life” looked like before the divorce. Some will be sad while others might be angry for a few weeks.

What can you do?
Encourage single parents to stay calm.

  • Help the parent keep stress to a minimum.
  • Don’t require single parents to host or volunteer for different events right after the holidays. If they do volunteer remember to provide childcare for little ones. Keep in mind they have no one to leave the children with at home. Also keep in mind the children may be tired and grumpy after the holidays.
  • Text scriptures that provide hope, encouragement and calmness to the single parents.
  • If your church has a Facebook page, include scriptures that bring stillness and quietness to this hectic time before and after the holidays.
  • Encourage the child to put their memories of the holidays in a journal.
  • Help children get back into the routine after the holidays by reminding them of your church children’s events.
  • Allow the child of divorce to talk about their crazy holiday schedules and the frustrations they faced.

Won’t you be a big people and help the little people acclimate back to their normal lives after the holidays?

This article is updated and adapted from an article originally published on the Kids & Divorce blog on Dec 28, 2015.

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