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Dealing with divorce questions at holiday events

If you're getting ready to go through your first holiday season since your separation or divorce, you're likely anticipating it with at least a small amount of dread. Going to obligatory holiday parties without your spouse can feel awkward. So can attending family holiday get-togethers.

There will likely be people there who don't know your situation, so there will be uncomfortable questions. Even people who do know can be intrusive and hurtful without realizing it. Maneuvering these situations can be particularly difficult when your emotions are still raw and you haven't yet developed a few good go-to responses to politely but firmly shut down unwanted conversations.

It may be tempting to hibernate until after the first of the year. However, that's generally not possible and probably not emotionally healthy.

Let your friends and family know that you appreciate their concern and support, but that you'd rather focus on enjoying the holidays rather than on discussing the break-up. This may be something that you choose to communicate via an email or in person if the subject of your break-up is raised.

If you have children, they're likely going to be facing questions and comments from well-meaning family and parents of friends. Let these folks know before you send your kids into these situations alone that this is a difficult time for them and that you'd appreciate them being mindful of your kids' feelings. Let them know that you'd like them to fully enjoy the holidays, and that being reminded of their parents' break-up could be difficult for them. Only the most boorish person wouldn't understand and respect that.

If you and your spouse haven't yet finalized your parenting plan, detailing the custody and visitation situation for the holidays, it's important to agree on arrangements ahead of time. This way, your kids will know where and how they'll be spending their time.

It's essential for both parents to stick to the agreed-upon arrangement, even if it's not yet codified in your parenting plan. Then, work with your attorney to detail these arrangements for all special days throughout the year.

Source: Huffington Post, "Your First Holiday Season After a Divorce," Dr. Nikki Martinez, Psy.D. LCPC, Oct. 31, 2017

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