Divorce and the Holidays: Two Must-Have Gifts for Kids and You

By Adina Laver

If navigating or managing your divorce was not stressful enough, now the holidays are approaching… Match the stress of your divorce with the guilt of “ruining” the holidays for your kids and the fact that you do not have the money to spend on big gifts, and you may as well pack it in! Right? WRONG!
divorcing parents stress holidaysKeep reading… there is hope for your happy holidays yet, and there are gifts you can give your kids and yourself that everyone will continue to enjoy all year long.

One of my (Jewish) kids’ favorite movies is Miracle on 34th Street. We watch the black and white version every year where an older gentleman convinces everyone that he truly is Santa Claus.  His own belief about his identity is so steadfast that others soon follow suit.
What is so intoxicating about this movie is how it invites us to truly believe…to suspend everything we think we know about reality, and to believe in something that we otherwise cannot rationalize as true. If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t know what I am talking about, go rent it, get it on Netflix, whatever. Watching it can be a fabulous new tradition at this time of year - regardless of your religion - and you will know what I am talking about.
If you are navigating divorce, you may be convinced that you are ruining their kids’ lives. If you cannot afford the usual holiday gifts, you may also be convinced that your kids will be miserable and hate you over the holidays. And even worse, if your ex (or ex-to-be) can afford gifts that you can’t, you might as well take your place as the lesser parent.

This is what you think you know, but it is not really true.

  • What if all those things you believe to be true are really wrong?
  • What if you allowed yourself to believe something else? 
  • What if - just for a moment - you allowed yourself to believe that this holiday season will be ok, and perhaps, even filled with incredible miracles?
  • What if you allowed yourself to believe in something that you cannot otherwise rationalize as true?

In Jessica Bram’s memoir, Happily Ever After Divorce: Notes of a Joyful Journey, she talks about facing years of holiday seasons when she had little money and spent her holidays with the kids at home, while her ex bought the kids grand gifts and took them on extravagant family vacations. Did she ever feel inadequate? Sure. But what she eventually discovered is that there are much greater gifts that a divorcing parent can give his or her children – gifts that keep on giving. She began to focus on giving the gifts that really mattered most.

So here are two gifts that Jessica and I suggest you give yourself and your kids this holiday season.

  • First, give your kids the gift of a guilt free holiday. Let your kids enjoy wherever they are going to be this holiday without the guilt of worrying about you when they are not with you. If you are a parent, you know the power that your attitude has over your kids’ experience. If you are sad and devastated and angry, they will feel guilty and like they need to protect you. On the other hand, your loving send-off to their other parent’s house or willing acceptance of a new routine can go a long way in helping your kids have a healthy adjustment and a joyful holiday.

  • Second, give yourself the gift of “being enough!” It is so common for parents to feel inadequate because they cannot make things “perfect” for their kids. This not enoughness can lead trying to compensate with gifts you cannot afford or any number of other strategies motivated by inadequacy. The fact is, you ARE enough. You love your kids and you already have everything you need to create a loving holiday experience for them, before you even spend a dime.  Put on your thinking cap and tap into that love you felt when your child(ren) were first born. Love them like you did then, and you will be able to create a beautiful holiday memories during this period of transition for your family.

Need help with gifts you can give your children?

Gifts Divorcing Parents Can Give Their Kids – and Themselves


wtih Author of Happily Ever After Divorced, Jessica Bram, and Divorce & Relationship Coach, Adina Laver


About the Author

Adina Laver

Picture of Adina Laver As a life empowerment coach, Adina Laver, MBA, M.Ed, CPC helps individuals in transition, particularly separation and divorce, work past the difficult decisions they typically face. By leveraging individual strengths, Adina helps clients stay true to themselves and their values, especially during times of great pressure and emotionally-charged decisions.

Topics: Mindful Divorcing Parent