My Parents Got Divorced This Year: Here's How I'm Navigating the Holidays
While watching your parents get divorced is never fun regardless of how old you are, it's a particularly otherworldly experience when you go through it as an adult. For starters, you understand what's going on. And because you're a full-fledged person, you're often expected to take sides or share your opinions. This little conundrum can be especially trying during the holidays, when grown kids often feel like there's not enough time to appease both sides.
As a 20-something whose mom and dad are currently in the process of splitting up — aka living separately but not legally divorced just yet — I'm going through the process of divvying up my holidays for the first time. And while I might not have all the answers to handling the season with grace, here are a few things I've learned that may help other families in the same boat navigate the er, awkwardness.
1. Set expectations early — and don't deviate from the plan.
Making time to see both of your parents requires a few frank conversations and some serious planning, especially if they live far away from each other. While it's important to spend time with both of your parents, it's even more important to not go insane in the process.
For example, my mom is a long-term planner and likes to know what she's doing months ahead of time — she's the cook, after all — whereas my dad is more laid back. As soon as my mom began asking me what my plans were for the holidays, I also had to brooch the subject with my dad to ensure me and my two siblings were on the same page.
In order to keep your holidays as non-stressful as possible, settle on the logistics ahead of time and don't deviate from the plan. I'm going to my mom's on Christmas Eve and leaving her house the following day for my dad's in the afternoon at a specific time, no negotiations!
2. Accept that you're going to celebrate the same holiday multiple times.
If your parents don't live together, celebrating certain holidays more than once — or even back-to-back days — just comes with the territory. While the two hour drive can be a pain, seeing everyone you need to see is usually worth it. To make holiday planning even more complicated, I'm also engaged, which means I also need to plan activities with my in-laws. The biggest key in pulling everything off is being flexible timing-wise. If one side is OK with having Christmas festivities the next day, take them up on it.
3. If you have siblings, always stay on the same page.
As the oldest of three, I'm usually the person who's charged with finalizing the holiday schedule. My brother is in college and my sister lives out of state, so I'm always happy to take over. With that being said, I never agree to anything without running the date and time by them first, otherwise where we're going and when can get confusing. And obviously, I want to spend the holidays with my siblings, so making sure we're all together is the top priority.
4. Don't talk about a parent while spending time with the other.
Yes, some divorces can be incredibly nasty. Although it's natural for there to be some resentment on both sides, stay out of it. Don't bad mouth one parent to the other — particularly around the holidays — and don't bring up what the other person is doing. It'll ruin everyone's otherwise happy mood.