Splitting Up to Coming Together

Representation of divorced parents with children

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Representation of divorced parents with children

We tend to hear heartwarming stories of families spending the holidays together. The sentimental memories made with all of the loved ones gathered around the table for a warm Christmas dinner. But it’s rare to hear about the families whose parents have separated. What arrangements do they have in place for their children to celebrate with both sides of the family separately? 

The U.S. has the sixth-highest divorce rate in the world according to “worldpopulationrate.com”. Parents who have gotten divorced and have kids usually have a schedule in place where they alternate time spent with their kids. This schedule may become harder to follow during family oriented holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, as each parent may want one on one time with their children. For some kids this can cause mental and emotional distress due to the imbalance of not having both parents together for celebrations. 

Sophomore Ella Billotto was slightly affected by her parents divorce initially because she didn’t know how to cope and it was a new adjustment to her life in more areas than one.

“It took some time to get used to it, I’ll admit, but we always get every other year with each parent and we do Christmas with both each year even if it’s not on the actual day which makes me happy,” stated Billotto.

Prior to her parents separating, everything about the holidays seemed regular. However, once the divorce started she had a difficult time dealing with it and it took some time for it to become second nature to her.

“Before the divorce everything seemed normal, but during the divorce I had to take lots of time to figure out how to cope, and now I do perfectly fine knowing the drill each year,” said Billotto.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are kids unlike Billotto, who have completely adjusted to their parents’ separation and don’t find it unusual since that’s what they’ve been able to remember for most of their life.For sophomore Anna Tomlinson, this is the case. Her family has arrangements where she can see both sides of the family equally. This doesn’t upset her in any way nor does it cause any sort of distress.

“Personally, I don’t have any negative feelings towards the holidays with divorced parents. I can’t speak for everyone but, my family has a set plan that keeps everyone happy,” said Tomlinson.

Tomlinson’s parents divorced when she was younger and has really no recollection of what happened or how the first Christmas after the split was spent. 

“My parents divorce happened when I was around 5 years old, so I have almost no memory of them beforehand. However, I’ve been told that we had a typical Christmas with presents in the morning, visiting family in the afternoon, and having dinner together in the evening,” stated Tomlinson.

According to “divorcemag.com”, children adjust better to divorce if their parents minimize conflict and are cooperative. Luckily for Billotto, her parents communicate and give permission for her to travel to visit her step mother’s family as well.

“My parents agree on when we can see each side of the family like for example my mom gives my dad permission to take us to Utah to see our step moms family, and my dad agrees to us seeing our older siblings with our mom,” Billotto stated.

That’s where another factor comes in. Every relative has to cooperate for the family dynamics to stay strong not only when the parents are divorced, but also when the family is blended due to remarriage and the parents starting new relationships?

Billotto has step siblings on her father’s side, making it noticeably more chaotic than on her mother’s side, where it’s just her mom, brother, and herself. This chaos sometimes annoys her while at her dad’s house. 

 “I do have step siblings on my dads side but for my moms it’s just me, her, and my brother, all my other siblings are older so at dads it’s more chaotic, I get irritable when I’m around my younger step siblings. They can be hard,” Billotto said.

Sophomore Abby Mincer’s relationship with either side of her family doesn’t change much at all and she doesn’t have any vivid memories from before their divorce. 

“I do enjoy Christmas with my family, because I get to see my siblings happy and I get to spend time with them. Personally they upset me,” Mincer stated.

What the majority of Christmas fanatics may view as the ‘stereotype’ or ‘standard’ for celebrating isn’t what everyone gets to experience. Coming to the realization that every family is different and how the dynamics are formed can be determined by aspects ranging from the death of a loved one to divorce. Not everyone has the good fortune of having their family united for the holidays. The representation of divorced families and even blended ones isn’t the same as non-divorced families. We usually see chaos and tension when these kinds of relationships are represented. However, there is a possibility for everyone to get along and have harmony.