When the month of February comes, many find themselves looking toward the 14th: Valentine’s Day. Those in relationships sometimes see it as a special day of love, reaffirming their union and their commitment to one another.
For those who have gone through the divorce experience, it can be a difficult day with reminders of what they may have lost. They feel that the concept of love may be skewed for a long time, and the weariness toward affection can be on display for everyone in their life, including their children.
Children of divorce are an audience to many of their parents’ moments of weakness during this difficult time, and Valentine’s Day can make this struggle apparent. A day where happy and functional couples are thrusted into the forefront of thoughts can be challenging for a child, who has witnessed their parents end their relationship.
However, as a parent, paying attention to how your child is affected by Valentine’s Day and reacting accordingly can be just the therapeutic exercise that you may need to get through this difficult time.
A child may be going through the divorce experience thinking that they do not get to enjoy the chocolates or cards that they may be receiving at school. They may feel guilty or feel like love should not be celebrated, because their parents are going through a divorce.
Valentine’s Day activities
This is where parents need to step in and help. There are lots of different ways to look at the holiday, and helping children explore the multifaceted aspects of Valentine’s Day will help ease their worries.
Many parents will send their children to school with store-bought Valentine’s Day cards, based on their favorite television show or superhero, but if your child would prefer, you and your child can make cards together.
This is not only an activity that utilizes the allotted parenting time to grow closer to your child during the divorce experience, it allows them to express their creativity. This type of exercise is a great way for your child to reach out to their classmates and show them how creative they can be.
Many parents also take this time to bake with their children. Whether it is heart-shaped cookies or red velvet cupcakes, baking together is an excellent way to distract your child from their attitude toward the holiday.
Other forms of love
These activities also show them that there are other forms of love that can be celebrated during Valentine’s Day, other than romantic love. Depending on a child’s age and maturity level, it can be challenging to show a child that type of idea, so it is important to start with the basics.
You love your child. Your child loves you. These two statements will help illustrate the familial love that can be celebrated during the holiday.
This also is an opportunity for you, as a parent, to acknowledge your co-parent’s place in your child’s life by explaining that they love your child and your child loves them. Even though you and your co-parent are no longer together, you can demonstrate your shared love for your child and how that type of familial love has a place in the festivities.
As difficult as it may be to say these sentiments out loud, it is not for your benefit. It is for the benefit of your child. It is for them to realize the importance of love for his or her family on a day that celebrates love. It also fosters a level of comfort in talking with a parent.
Talking to their parent
Your child may feel strange talking to you about the opposite parent, but it is necessary that they feel comfortable coming to you with all of their feelings: good and bad. No matter what the topic may be, a child should be able to talk to their parent about it.
They need to be able to talk about a member of their class that they may want to make a Valentine for, just as they need to be able to show both of their parents that they love them, even though they may no longer love one another.
If you are a parent struggling on Valentine’s Day, take solace in your child. Spend as much of the holiday with them as you can and help your children understand that even though their parents may no longer be in love, love still is possible. They need to know that the day still is worth celebrating.
Unfortunately, many parents are unable to spend these types of holidays with their child, and it is up to the parent in question to decide whether or not the custodial time during this holiday is worth fighting for. If so, it’s important to contact your attorney and navigate the situation through the legal channels.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.