The holidays can be a tough time for parents and children in Illinois following a separation or divorce. Both may be feeling many different emotions, such as anger, loss, betrayal, sadness and fear. Parents must deal with these emotions in a way that does not impact on their children’s holiday. The focus at this time needs to be on helping children adjust to the changes and still enjoy a happy holiday season.

This does not mean parents should ignore their emotions, but they may need to talk to a professional, such as a therapist or counselor, or friends and family about the situation. Parents might be tempted to try to keep the children away from the other parent if they are angry about the divorce, but this can be harmful for children. The aim should be to encourage the child to enjoy time with the other parent.

Parents need to create a holiday plan and tell their children what the plan is. It reduces the anxiety for children at this time. Parents should not approach the holidays as a competition, and when children return from a visit to the other parent, parents should allow the kids to volunteer information instead of asking them questions. Parents should not be judgmental. They will need patience, but they and their children will adjust over time as traditions change.

The process of divorce can be as difficult as its aftermath, and parents should apply the same principles here as they do to holidays. It is important to put the needs of their children first and help them get through the process. This means allowing the child to spend time with the other parent and making a child custody plan that reflects that unless there are reasons, such as abuse or neglect, that the child will be in danger with the other parent.