As black Friday approaches, parents troll store aisles and websites looking for “IT.” The gift that gets the gasp and the “OHHH!” from their children. In this season of giving, the greatest joy comes from finding what connects with the ones we love. So, for children of divorce, the best gifts may not be under the tree.
Whether this is the first Christmas after your divorce or you have many under your belt, if you are wondering how to make this season of giving special for your kiddos, consider these ideas to make the holiday shine.
First, focus on their love language.
What are love languages?
In The Five Love Languages of Children, Gary Chapman details how children experience love differently. He puts this experience in terms of love “languages.” They include physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, and time.
Chapman states that communicating our love to others means that we need to “speak” in their love language. Otherwise, much like someone calling “Te amo!”—if the other doesn’t speak Spanish, they won’t understand that the first is saying, “I love you!”
How do I give gifts in my child’s love language?
The book guides parents to understand the different love languages of their children and find ways to share their love in ways children receive. Giving gifts in a child’s love language may include:
- Physical touch—backrubs, hugs, snuggling on the couch, or playing an outdoor game can all feed the child who craves physical touch.
- Words of affirmation—a packet of notes stating what you admire about your child, praises to their teachers and friends during a holiday show, or setting out the “Celebrate” plate for the special meal all affirm your child in meaningful ways.
- Acts of service—a coupon book of times you will do their chores or assist them in a project, helping them use the break from school to organize/redecorate their room, or stocking the fridge with their favorite snacks are acts they meet their needs.
- Gifts—while holidays focus on gifts, for people with this love language, choosing the gift that truly affirms their identity, values, or interests becomes even more key. Be even more mindful to make the gift “right” for this child.
- Time—spending time one-on-one playing games, taking walks, or engaging in an activity close to their heart all meet this child’s need to have time talking and connecting to feel loved.
When parents speak the love language of each child through the gifts they choose, parents guarantee the gift resonates deeply. More—it keeps on giving. The affirmation of a parent’s love creates a blanket of security that protects and carries children into a fruitful life.
Spend more time than money on your children
While time is one of the love languages, all children need their parents’ time. Parents, caught up in running children to events, decorating the house, or seeing to the details of holiday celebrations—can lose track of this.
More than perfect decorations or expensive gifts, your children crave you. So, as you make your gift list–consider giving experiences together. To make these special—focus on the activities your child enjoys, hobbies you love and would like to share with them, or exploring new adventures together.
Ideas range from:
- a simple afternoon hiking
- a trip to the Children’s Museum
- a ride on a holiday train
- a seasonal concert or afternoon at the movies
- a short trip—like an afternoon in Chicago
- a weekend at Wolf Lodge.
Even when simple, the investment of your time matters. These experiences together often mean more than anything that fits under the tree. And, they don’t have to be elaborate to be meaningful.
The best gift of all—be kind to their other parent
No matter how difficult your relationship with your ex may be, they are your child’s other parent. And, your child still loves them—even if your child is angry or hurt. When parents speak well of each other, children relax. More they return to simply being children—not referees or protectors.
It can be hard to remember that our former spouse’s treatment of us (and even our children) feels and affects us differently than it does the children. This season, give your child the gift of having their own relationship with, emotions toward, and experience with their other parent. This comes in many forms. To begin this season, you might consider:
- combining holiday outings so that children get to enjoy time with both parents.
- speaking well of the other parent’s choices around the holidays and helping your child to prepare to engage with those.
- helping your child pick their gift for the other parent.
Even if you struggle with their other parent, you can:
- have your child ready and on time for events with the other parent.
- visibly smile when children leave for and listen with enthusiasm when they return from activities with the other parent.
The best gifts come when you speak respectfully about the other parent, support their efforts with your child, and communicate the expectation that your children will enjoy their time with each of you. If you love your children, you can find a way to do this. After all—you wouldn’t have the children without their other parent.
In this season of giving, great fun comes from connecting with and loving your children. We wish you the best as you try to make this season special. May you all find joy together.
If you would like to learn more about navigating divorce, please email info@ResolutionMediationIN.com or call 317-793-0825. We look forward to serving you!