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Divorced Dads - How to Make Christmas and Holiday Access Nightmares More Manageable

Feb 29, 2008
DISCLAIMER: The following is NOT legal advice, nor is it a substitute for legal advice. If you are in Family Court you will need legal advice, so please see a lawyer.

The worst Christmas that I ever had was watching Godfather III in a theater after handing over the kids at 4:00 p.m. to mom the first year that we were separated.

I thought to myself I have never had such a low moment in my life. I know she felt the same way the year that she handed them over to me at 4:00. So, we managed to do it year to year. It was not perfect. Ultimately, we had to get really, really creative. For example, we would celebrate Christmas early. I mean the kids love that! You need to be creative.

When we would say, "Oh well, it is December 23rd. Let us have Christmas today." We just surprised them, just bring it on them, and we would have such an amazing time just simply because we did not get stuck in the idea that it had to be a certain way.

For those of you on the call, I mean I really do hope that you get to see your kids over the next few days, but if you do not, the presents that you have bought and if you have not bought any yet, be sure to even though you think you might not see your kids go and buy a present. Wrap it up. Get a nice card and put it away.

If you see little Johnny, I am just going to say Johnny from now on because it is sort of a basic name, if you see little Johnny in March, you know what? You can put your Santa hat on and you can say, "You know what, Johnny? I have been waiting for this since December 25th. Ho-ho-ho, it is Christmas.

Let's go see what's left under the tree." You can have Christmas anytime. Your son or your daughter will be blown away that you never forgot them because they may have been told something else by mom. This is proof to them that you did buy them a gift and that you did not forget them. It is still sitting there waiting for them. Here it is, March, June, whatever month it is later on in the year, okay. So, I want to encourage you to do that.

In my experience, I had to learn to let go of the idea the it had to be perfect and I clung to the idea that I had to create happiness for the kids and myself and my mother instead even when she was giving me a very, very difficult time.

I struggled with that to the best of my ability. It never was perfect but we do have happy memories as a result more often than not. One of the things that I have come to realize over the years is now that we are empty nesters, our kids are 26 and 21. Life is not perfect. I raised a stepson and a daughter and they are making their own life in the world and we are going to have to begin the process of sharing them with their new partners and girlfriends and boyfriends and wives and husbands and someday they will be having their little kids and we will be grandparents.

And there is going to be other extended family members. We are not going to be spending every Christmas with them anyway. This is all part of the process of life is that you have got to learn very often how to let go in different stages. The thing that I found as both the child of divorce and as a divorced dad is that things do ultimately equalize.

Why? It is sort of like adopted kids. They want to know where they come from. They want to know who they are. They want to know everything about themselves and if you have not been involved for a significant amount of time, you will often find that your kid as they get older will want all that knowledge.

And that is a GREAT Christmas gift to give your kids the lack of pressure to be with you. Recently our daughter told us about Christmas at her Grandma's, my ex-wife's mother. Now Grandma is getting older, she's not going to be here forever, and certainly I'll be here longer than she will be. So I understand and appreciate why our daughter likes to spend Christmas with her.

But as in every family, sometimes it can be difficult for any number of reasons. Our daughter was upset over something someone in the family said about me, and it was not her mother who said it. In fact she defended me according to our daughter. And she shared that what went through her mind was that she had sacrificed Christmas Day with me to face this bit of unpleasantness.

Now the word sacrifice is significant.

That's what happens to kids in these situations they have to sacrifice. That's just not right. Which is why I make the sacrifice knowing full well how difficult it is for them, so I try to make it easier.

That way I make Christmas and Holiday Access Nightmares More Manageable for the kids through my example. It's a gift that's hard to give, but it is one with deep feeling and meaning, which I know will pay off huge benefits down the road, because I intend to be around for many, many more years to come!

If I put the kids into a pressurized, guilt ridden situation how would that make them feel about Christmas? Even sadder I imagine. It's hard to be a kid in a divorced family this time of year. Do what you can to make it easier for your kids they will love and appreciate you in an entirely new way.
About the Author
Danny Guspie - Executive Director of Fathers Resources International can help you learn the successful strategies of fathers who have won in Family Court. Join us on our weekly calls at

where we will share with you what works for successful divorced dads.
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