Divorced parents, divided holidays

Many children grow up in households where their parents are divorced. Divorced parents often can be a hard issue for children.

Courtesy of Mommyish.com

Many children grow up in households where their parents are divorced. Divorced parents often can be a hard issue for children.

Grant Wetmore, Staff Writer

For many, the holiday season is a time of joy and reunions with family. Unfortunately, life isn’t a Hallmark holiday movie. For some of us, the holidays are a time of separation and choosing sides.

Forty to 50 percent of married couples divorce, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That means split custody for many kids.

In sixth grade, I remember thinking I was an anomaly because I was one of the few kids in class whose parents weren’t separated. Sadly, my parent’s marriage ended that year. My siblings and I quickly learned the routine of shared custody.

I consider myself lucky, though. A few years ago, my mom bought a house in the same court as my dad’s house. Now both of my parents’ homes are separated by one house. This means they’re neighbors. If I want to see one, all I have to do is walk across the cul-de-sac.

I’m grateful for my parents’ housing arrangements. I know others don’t have such a luxury. Most kids’ parents live across town, in different cities, or even in different states.

The custody battle doesn’t stop around the holidays. In some cases, it might get worse. For those over the age of 18 who have separated parents, you’re no longer bound by custody arrangements. Still, you’re forced to decide where to spend your holidays.

For me, this decision is already made on my behalf. I go where my younger siblings go. For Thanksgiving and smaller holidays, we alternate every year. On major holidays, such as Easter, we split the day between our parents. This year, we will spend Christmas Eve and morning with our mother; at noon, we march over our dad’s house.

For some, the choice is easy, especially if one of your parents isn’t in the picture. What if you’re on good terms with both your parents? That’s when things get difficult.

My mother has a boyfriend with two adult children from his first marriage. He is a stand-up guy; the type of guy you would love to have a beer with. He loves his children, and they love him. However, they also love their mother. They try their best, but like most of us, they can’t be two places at once. On Thanksgiving, his son spent most of the day with him. But when the turkey came out, he left to have dinner with his mom. His daughter couldn’t make it. She spent the day helping her mother prepare dinner.

If you’re in a similar position, as an adult child of divorce or as a divorced parent yourself, please understand that you’re not alone. I know around this season, our society promotes togetherness and everything on TV seems to be about families traveling great distances to be together during the holidays. In this wave of good cheer, it’s easy to forget that there are many people in your shoes.

For those whose parents or marriage is still together, I hope this has made you a little more grateful as you spend your holidays with all your loved ones.