Even though divorce is a common reality in today's world, it can still be emotionally devastating and difficult to accept. During vacation time adults and children can easily be upset by past memories or former traditions that are no longer part of their lives. This can lead to feelings of not being a "real" family anymore. Accusations, guilt, blame and a sense of inadequacy easily fuels conflict that can undermine even the most festive occasions or well-meant plans.
Too often post-divorce families set themselves up for disappointment by making comparisons with vacations of the past. Children can erroneously expect certain family traditions to continue. Concerned parents may try to replicate the close bonds and sense of security within the family - and regret that things are just not the same. Instead, think proactively! Start creating new experiences, new memories and new places to explore.
By talking about your frustrations, sharing expectations and understanding that your new family is undergoing transformation, much of the pressure can be released. This opens the door to exploring different activities and new ways to spend time together as a family -- one that is headed sometimes by Mom and other times by Dad.
Tensions following a divorce are normal. They're a natural part of exploring new boundaries and roles within the family unit. For this reason it's wise to plan vacation activities in advance -- with a strategy. Think about reinventing yourselves and looking ahead to the future!
If the other parent is joining you on a family vacation (which in some families can work well), be sure to plan some parent-only alone time with each child. Limit the time that Mom and Dad spend alone together if their relationship shows signs of tension.
By letting go of the Norman Rockwell images of family vacation it will be easier to design a new reality with reasonable schedules and realistic expectations so you and your children can really enjoy your summer getaways.
*** *** ***
Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Divorce & Parenting Coach and author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children -- with Love. For her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right! as well as her blog, coaching services and valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, go to: www.childcentereddivorce.com.