Divorce stole Christmas

During a time centered around family togetherness, teens of divorce have to celebrate differently

Kennedy Pastore, social media manager

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      Remember the days when you’d run downstairs on Christmas morning, full of excitement and see your parents smirking at each other because they know they’re about to surprise you with the gift you wanted oh so badly? Or perhaps that was never your experience, and it if was, it was short-lived. Reality or not, this is the prototype of an American Christmas. However, according to the American Psychological Association, about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States end up divorced.  A good majority of those who marry also have children, meaning 40 to 50 percent of children will not have so many memories of their parents together during the holidays. During a season heavily centered around family togetherness, those with broken families often have to celebrate in ways that differ from the rest of the country.

     When a child’s parents are married, they are usually able to spend the holidays all together as a unit. However, children of divorce are not granted this guarantee; they are often left having to spend the day with only one parent or follow some kind of different schedule.

     “I haven’t seen my dad on Thanksgiving day for the past four or five years now. It’s tough because it’s a day about giving thanks and everyone’s talking about stuff their whole family did together,” senior Wyatt Klueber said. “Our Thanksgiving is just five or six people, compared to people who have like 20 or so.”

     Klueber’s parents have been divorced since 2013, and since then, he has followed the schedule of being with his mother on Thanksgiving and his father on Christmas, never both on the same day. While people say the situation is not the best, a consistent schedule during the holidays can be helpful because it removes the pressure of the child having to choose, which is something many kids of divorce face.

     “The hardest part is choosing who to go with on certain holidays. On Thanksgiving we have the choice to choose, and you obviously don’t want to hurt your family’s feelings, so that’s a hard one,” said senior Adam Bales, who’s parents haven’t been together since he was three years old.

     Having to make a choice between one’s parents can be extremely stressful for a lot of people and can end up causing a lot of unnecessary guilt. Parents often say that they cannot choose between kids or pick a favorite, yet they ask their kids to.

     “I just feel really guilty all the time. Even not around the holiday season,” junior Grace Pearson said. “I try to even out my time. I try and spend more time with my friends when it’s my dad’s time because he has my stepmom. But at the same time, I feel guilty because he’s not seeing me.”

     Pearson, among others, feels the pressure of not wanting to leave her parents alone, especially during the holiday season, which is centered around family. This can make it harder for others to justify making time for themselves when someone is on the other side wanting their time as well.

     “I want to spend time with my mom, but I also want to spend time with other people. If I leave my mom, she’ll be alone,” said Pearson.

     A common argument about the benefits of divorced parents during the holiday season is that kids get to celebrate the holidays more than once, which is presumed to be better than once. Twice the presents and twice the meals.

     “Having two holidays is nice,” said Klueber. “Double the gifts, double the dinners on Thanksgiving and two Christmases. So I guess that’s a positive aspect.”

However this might be nice for some, two holidays can also pose inconveniences. For example, miscommunication between parents can often cause duplicate gifts.

     “I’ll say, ‘Hey I need sweatpants for Christmas’ and my mom will tell her side of the family and my dad will tell his, and then I have 12 pairs of sweatpants when I don’t really need that many,” said Bales.

Divorce lasts longer than the holiday season however, meaning the effects are able to stretch throughout the child’s whole life. If impactful enough, it can drastically change the truths the child once knew about love and marriage.

     “[Divorce] has changed my view on relationships,” said Klueber. “It has me asking, ‘Do I really feel committed to this?’ I get scared of what could happen to my marriage, because it took my parents 18 years to get divorced, but they were unhappy the whole time.”

     Everyday divorce is becoming more and more of a reality, and while those with divorced parents express their struggles, some say it doesn’t have to be so bad. There will always be others out there experiencing their parents divorces as well, especially one’s own siblings.

     “If you have siblings, keep your siblings close because that’s who you’ll have the longest,” said Bales. “Your parents may be going through court or fighting, but your sibling is going through that with you too. So if you need help or you need to talk about it you can talk about it with them because they’re experiencing the same thing.”

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