Rising Above the Pain During the Holidays
The holiday season is a very stressful time for both those that have been or are going through a divorce and for the children who are the innocent victims of divorce. Parents are tempted, because of their woundedness and insecurities, to pit their children against the other parent. This is a very painful experience for the child.
It is because of what I have observed divorced parents do and because of the pain my own children have experienced that I am writing this article. I am appealing to all divorced parents to rise up to a higher standard when dealing with divorce during the holidays.
Putting The Principle Of Love Above Your Need To Be Validated
One of the biggest things that happen when people get divorced is the feeling that you have been invalidated. You feel that your worth or value as a person has been belittled.
Because of this, many parents look to their children for validation. Although all of us need validation, looking to our kids to give us that validation is not healthy.
We need to find that validation in Jesus, not in those that are hurt and struggling with the fact that their parents do not love each other anymore.
We need to be the ones that are validating our kids and not vice versa. We can do this by putting the principle of love that Paul talked about in 1st Corinthians chapter 13.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
New Living Translation (NLT)
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Because you love your children, you need to fight the temptation to be jealous of your former spouse.
You kids are only doing what God created them to do when they express love for their parents. It is only natural for them to want to be with the other parent. You must refrain from expressing or acting upon the jealousy that your need for validation brings.
Love dictates that you resist the temptation to try to get your own way. As much as the holidays are important to you, you need to realize that you are an adult and as such you need to rise up to a higher standard.
If you do not, then you will place more damage upon your children above what they have already received. Depending on how much you give in to this temptation, you run the risk of causing what is called Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) in your child.
What Is Parental Alienation Syndrome?
Parental alienation syndrome (abbreviated as PAS) is term coined by Richard A. Gardner in the early 1980s to refer to what he describes as a disorder in which a child, on an ongoing basis, belittles and insults one parent without justification, due to a combination of factors, including indoctrination by the other parent (almost exclusively as part of a child custody dispute) and the child’s own attempts to denigrate the target parent. Gardner introduced the term in a 1985 paper, describing a cluster of symptoms he had observed during the early 1980s.
In a nutshell, PAS is when a child feels becomes estranged from the other parent because of the words and actions of one parent against the other either in the child’s presence or in communication to the child directly.
During the holiday’s this becomes even more of a temptation. You don’t like being lonely. You don’t like facing the fact that things have changed and the same level of family unity is not there. These are normal feelings but it does not give you the right to alienate your children against the other parent. This severely harms them.
So here are a few things you can be aware of during this time to keep yourself in check.
Helping Your Children Deal With The Stress Of The Holidays
- Affirm to your children that it is normal and good to love the other parent. As much as you may have to bite your tongue and swallow the bile that rises in your throat, affirm to your children that they need to love both parents. Tell them that they do not have to play favorites. Make sure that they understand that just because you are no longer living with their mother or father, does not mean that they have to choose who to love.
- Do not indulge in self-pity. As much as you might feel sad, lonely, or hurt, do not lay the burden of those feelings on your children. Do not talk about how much of a victim you have been.
- Avoid making them make hard choices. Don’t make your children choose between the two of you. Demanding rights and fighting might feel good in the short term, but in the end, it just hurts your children. Don’t allow them to be put in the middle of a fight and having to choose between the two of you even if that means giving up your rights for their best interest rather than yours.
The Consequences Of Not Putting Your Children First
It has been my experience that when you give in to the temptation of venting, grumbling, or communicating negative things about the other parent, that in the end it will come back and bite you. You do reap what you sow.
When you sow strife and discord, you end up getting it back. You run the risk that as your children become adults and realize what has been done to them, you will be held accountable and then you will be the one that is estranged from your children.
So I am speaking for all of those that really cannot speak for themselves because they love you and want to honor you.
Put your children first this holiday season.
Follow the principles of love.
Get your validation from other sources than your kids, especially from Jesus who will heal the pain you are feeling during this season.
For more information on healing up from divorce, go to DivorceCare.org