Ensuring Happy Holidays for a Child with Divorced Parents: Five Steps to Limit Family Splitting During The Holidays

Ensuring Happy Holidays for a Child with Divorced Parents: Five Steps to Limit Family Splitting During The Holidays

The holidays are a time for merriment and family bonding. When your family is split apart due to divorce,  it might put a damper on the holiday spirit. That’s why it’s super important to try and make your child feel supported and loved.

Children with divorced parents may “split”. This is a phenomenon that occurs when the child talks to one parent about something (usually something they want, like a new phone or going out with friends) and uses that parent’s answer as a way to get what they want. For example, if your son asks one parent for a new phone and they say no, they just go to the other parent who will say yes and give them what they want. This becomes an important issue during the holiday season when children get presents. To avoid this splitting from occurring during gift giving season, you’ll need to take some preventative measures.

Limiting splitting

Here’s five steps to limit splitting during the holiday season, according to Peter Brickey, CMHC, Primary Therapist at ViewPoint Center:

  1. Be on the same page. Preventing problems starts with effective communication. If you are parenting from a divorced situation, put aside your differences enough to communicate the needs of your child.
  2. Don’t make assumptions. Kids are sophisticated and learn quickly that if they can get away with it, they will. If they get away with splitting one out of ten times, that might still be enough to reinforce for them that it works.
  3. Be fair with your rules but be consistent. Authoritarian parenting is not as effective and beneficial as authoritative parenting. If you are not familiar with these styles, look them up. Don’t make rules just “because.” Have rules that are needed and can be explained but don’t barter once they are set.
  4. Listen. As parents, we often go into lecture mode. Lectures are beneficial only to a certain point. Kids will often tune their parents out when they get too lengthy and feel frustrated. Listen to what  your child is saying and validate their emotions.
  5. Problem solve and reinforce. When splitting happens, identify where the problem in communication happened, make corrections (without blame), and do better. No one is a perfect parent and we will all make mistakes. With that being said, give positive or negative consequences based on positive/negative behavior. If a child “splits,” have a matching consequence. It’s at least equally important to reinforce the positive behavior if you want it to continue. If your child is honest and does not split, let them know you are pleased with them.

If your teen needs additional help

ViewPoint Center, a teen assessment center for young people ages 6-17, can help your teen work through difficulties associated with a hard situation, like divorced parents.

For more information about ViewPoint Center, please call 801-825-5222.


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