Traditions, when done right, lend a certain magic, spirit, and texture to our everyday lives.
–Fatherhood, Relationships, and Family
While many people see divorce as the end of their marriage, others look at it as the start of the next chapter in their lives. Continuing familiar traditions after divorce can calm your kids’ fears about this life-changing situation. Creating new traditions can help you reconnect with them. Divorce can be difficult for kids to grasp and often means someone is losing. They fear they may lose a parent, their family, or their familiar home.
Reaffirm Their Trust
Traditions after divorce can be the glue that holds a childhood together. –Michelle N. Ogborne
Splitting parenting time between two homes can leave children feeling like they’re always on the move. Following his parents’ divorce, one 11-year-old boy began hauling a large duffel bag everywhere he went. While other kids his age can’t find their socks, he began doing his own laundry.
He managed to put much of his clothing, shoes, and a collection of electronic devices in his bag. He didn’t like the two-home situation and he didn’t trust his parents to know what was important to him. His solution was to keep all of his treasures with him at all times.
With so much changing in his life, it was difficult to hold on to anything that resembled normalcy.
Re-Connect Through New Traditions After Divorce
Traditions are the memories adult children share with their own families. They are the warm memories from childhood.
Anytime is a great time to establish new traditions. In a divorce, parents need to agree who will celebrate what, when, and where. However, you can’t rely on the kids to be objective about the decisions. You may have to make some unpopular decisions, but new traditions can be the catalyst to restore their trust. The collaborative process makes these decisions easier as during the process, communication is the foundation for all future decisions.
1. Backyard Camping Weekend
You can make the rules regarding weather and frequency, but the goal is to plan an evening camping in the backyard. New Year’s Eve or Fourth of July are fun nights to see (and hear) nearby celebrations. If your neighborhood allows it, perhaps you can add some sparkle and noise of your own!
2. Make Something Old New Again
Remember when families drove around town looking at Christmas lights? Now, families can use maps and guides that highlight some of the best-decorated areas in their community. This can be a new tradition! At the end of the evening, you can return home to enjoy cocoa, cider, cookies, or any other favorite festive treats.
3. Take Turns Planning a Family Day
Making fun plans doesn’t have to fall on your shoulders alone. Give your children a chance to take turns planning their ideal day. Before you implement this tradition, you may want to set up a few ground rules:
- Everyone in the family must be able to participate.
- Set a limit for the cost.
- Set limits on the location.
While everyone might have a fun day at the ocean, you probably don’t want to make the drive to California every time it’s your beach-loving child’s turn to plan the day.
Another option is to brainstorm fun ideas as a family and then pull one out of a jar when it’s a family day. This allows you to have a little more control over ideas that aren’t feasible. Some fun family day ideas could be hiking, going to a movie, playing board games, making homemade pizza, and so much more.
By giving each person in your family a turn to plan the day, you’ll have more family buy-in to the activities. Even if it’s not everyone’s favorite activity, they’ll know their activity will happen soon.
How often you take on this tradition is up to you. Some families schedule weekly family time – such as Friday night game night. Other families make it a monthly tradition. No matter what you decide to do, the purpose is to have fun bonding with your kids.
4. Reinvent the Birthday
If your family always celebrated birthdays a certain way, creating another annual event can be one of your new traditions after divorce. Give this new birthday celebration a new name; “B-Day Too,” for example. What about a pancake breakfast at a nearby restaurant before school? You could plan any number of fun birthday activities to create new traditions after divorce.
5. Create a Special Celebration
When one parent has the holiday day, the other parent can plan a celebration a different day. This special dinner or gathering can recognize friends and family that are important to you. Perhaps it has a theme of thankfulness for those who supported you this year. Maybe there’s a gift exchange. Savvy parents who trade-off holidays can also use this new traditional celebration ritual as a holiday alternative next year.
New Life, New Traditions
Collaborative divorce is a forward-thinking approach for caring parents. It focuses on mutually agreeable outcomes in your family’s best interests. When you’re ready to change your life while preserving your family, contact Ogborne Law today.
Engaging with an attorney to protect your family is never an easy step. Whether you need to protect your family from the unthinkable or restructure your family through collaborative divorce, we’re here to help. When you’re ready to schedule a consultation with Michelle Ogborne, please visit the scheduling page to get started.