Does Divorce Make My Child Irritable at Holidays?

By on December 1, 2011

By Dr. Linda Mintle –

A reader asks: Instead of being happy about the holidays, my 11 year old seems irritable and tired and doesn’t want to talk about Christmas. His dad and I divorced this summer and I am a single parent. Is this why he is so sullen?

For kids, holidays can be a reminder of what has changed and is different. Since this will be your first Christmas with a new family structure, he is mostly likely thinking about how different the holidays will be. And he may be upset that his family is no longer intact.

So in order to help him with the changes this holiday season, do the following:

1) Plan ahead for the Christmas break and let him know what those plans will be. Where will he be on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, how will presents be handled, the family meal, etc.?

2) Don’t make promises you can’t keep. If you don’t know how something will play out, let him know but tell him you are working on finalizing plans and will keep him in the loop.

3) Don’t let guilt rule your decisions. Be careful not to buy more presents or succumb to negative behavior because of family changes. Give your son your time and attention and address issues as they arise.

4) Maintain as many family traditions as possible. Change, whether good or bad, is stressful so keep what you can the same. However, you can also develop new traditions.

5) Finally, coordinate gift giving so that one parent doesn’t overload or duplicate the other. Involve grandparents when possible and try to bring a little peace to a stressful time.

 

Dr. Linda Mintle is a national speaker and bestselling author of more than 15 books, including I Love My Mother, But…and I Married You, Not Your Family. She appears regularly on several national television and radio shows and is a network news contributor. She also hosts her own website. In her general clinical practice, she specializes in marriage and family therapy, eating disorders, and infertility. A licensed clinical social worker, she holds a PhD in urban health and clinical psychology. She and her family live in Virginia. www.drlindahelps.com

About Dr. Linda Mintle

Dr. Linda Mintle is a national speaker and bestselling author of more than 15 books, including I Love My Mother, But…and I Married You, Not Your Family. She appears regularly on several national television and radio shows and is a network news contributor. She also hosts her own website. In her general clinical practice, she specializes in marriage and family therapy, eating disorders, and infertility. A licensed clinical social worker, she holds a PhD in urban health and clinical psychology. She and her family live in Virginia. www.drlindahelps.com

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Does Divorce Make My Child Irritable at Holidays?