Dear Children of Divorced Parents,

With Halloween over, the most dreaded time of the year is upon us. The month of November is the official start of the holiday season for most Americans. For some people, this is their favorite time of the year. Unfortunately, children of divorced parents see it a different way. That’s you. When your parents first got divorced, everyone tells you how jealous they are of you: you’ll now get two birthdays, multiple Christmases or Kwanzaa’s, two Thanksgiving dinners or more gifts for Hanukkah. While that statement is true in a way, the multiple holidays also bring immense stress for some of us.

Almost every holiday you’ll be forced to ask yourself if it was your mom’s turn or your dad’s turn to have you. Did they have you last year or was it two years ago now? Will one parent get you for lunch on Thanksgiving or for dinner? What if they both decide to have Thanksgiving at the same time? Will one parent have a place to go if you end up with the other parent? Or will they spend the holiday alone?

A big choice you’ll have to possibly make is which parent will not have their kid on a major holiday. Believe me, I understand how completely difficult it is to have that hanging over your head. You may or may not love each parent equally, but if you do, the guilt you feel is real, and over time, that feeling never really fades away.

Maybe one day your parents will get remarried, and this is good in a way, but for the holiday season it only adds to the chaos. On Christmas Eve, you’ll go to your mom’s house, then to her mom’s house. On Christmas, you’ll go to your dad’s house, then his mom’s house. Then the next day, you’ll have to go to your new stepdad’s family’s house and so on. Christmas is no longer daylong but rather a week long. And when you’re spending so much time traveling back and forth, the real meaning of Christmas is lost. And this can be true for any holiday, not just Christmas. It’s no longer known as a day to celebrate, but a day to pretend like this is the normal way to celebrate holidays. And it really isn’t.

Not being able to celebrate as a family during holidays kills us more than people realize. Anyone who comes from a divorced family dreams of the days when their parents were still together. You wish for the chance to go back so you can truly appreciate what little time you had as a complete family. If your parents didn’t have a good divorce, this only adds to the stress of the holidays. Some of you may have been lucky enough to have parents who are still friends, but I guarantee that that is almost always not the way it works. When your parents hate each other, there’s a big chance that they’ll try and pit you against the other parent. So for holidays, insults about how one parent celebrated or what they got you for the holiday get thrown around. It will be a competition until the very end.

Speaking of gift giving, that can become very tricky too. Your parents will only get so much time with you. This means that one may know you better than the other, while one still thinks that you play with hot wheels or Barbies when you’re now 16 years old. The biggest problem that you may run in to is repeat gifts. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen kids get the exact same thing from each parent and have to play it off like it was unique. It’s extremely hard to fake excitement when you get something for the third time.

So, all of you divorced kids, here’s to you. I understand you, I feel your pain and I am here for you. We’re all here for you. You may feel that no one understands your slightly negative outlook on the holidays, but rest assured that you are not alone. Your parents won’t understand. Your friends may not understand. But if you can make it through the holiday season this year, then you can show them all that we are the strongest type of children out there.

Signed,

One Of You