ad info

CNNin
 MAIN PAGE
 WORLD
 ASIANOW
 U.S.
 LOCAL
 POLITICS
 WEATHER
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 TECHNOLOGY
 NATURE
 ENTERTAINMENT
 BOOKS
 TRAVEL
 FOOD
 HEALTH
 AIDS
 Alternative
 Cancer
 Diet & Fitness
 Heart
 Men
 Seniors
 Women
 STYLE
 IN-DEPTH

 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 TIME INC. SITES:
 MORE SERVICES:
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines
 pointcast
 pagenet

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

 SITE GUIDES:
 help
 contents
 search

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 WEB SERVICES:
Health

Families learn to cope with divorce at holiday time

Gaddy
Travis Gaddy will celebrate Christmas with both his mom and dad, who are divorced.  

December 21, 1998
Web posted at: 6:05 p.m. EST (2305 GMT)

From Medical Correspondent Linda Ciampa

ATLANTA (CNN) -- Holidays are a time for families. But when yours is divorced, what do you do?

Ten-year old Travis Gaddy will celebrate Christmas with his mom and then celebrate it again with his dad. Divorced eight years ago, the holidays were especially tough for this family in the beginning.

"You both love the child and you both want to be with him on all the special things and it's just not possible," says mom Deborah Gaddy. "Healing takes a while and it happens at its own pace."

With time, the holidays have become easier. Each parent has developed new traditions with Travis. Deborah builds a gingerbread house and attends Christmas services with her son. Dad Gary takes him skiing and shopping.

"This helps children understand (that) we're still a family," Deborah says. "He's a family with me and he's a family when he's with his dad."

Advance planning, involving the parents and children, is also essential. The Gaddys make a point of including Travis in that planning.

"I think that's part of the stress for children of divorce is that they feel like they have no control over anything that's happening to them, and if you can just give them a little bit of that control back, it's not quite as stressful for them," Deborah says.

Focus on the positive

Psychologists agree, and warn parents to watch what they say.

"What you absolutely don't want to do is (say) 'this will be the first Christmas without all of us together. It's too bad you won't see your cousin,'" cautions Anthony Wolf, author of "Why Did You Have to Get a Divorce?" "All of those things can bring a kid down. You want to focus on the positive stuff going on, which there will be plenty of."

The stress of a separated family doesn't end when the child becomes an adult. Holidays can present entirely different kinds of emotions and concerns that have to be dealt with.

Elizabeth Puckett's parents divorced when she was a teenager. Fifteen years later, Elizabeth is still trying to accept the fact her father has a new life that doesn't include her or her children.

Gaddy
As an adult, Elizabeth Puckett still grapples with her parents' divorce.  

"My dad is missing out on wonderful grandchildren, incredible children," she says, adding she knows that in order to enjoy the holidays, she needs to let go of the past.

"One of the things you have to do as you get older, which can be hard, is to say 'I'm going to have a nice time anyway,'" says Elizabeth. "I'm going to have my special time made out of what is now in my life now."

Experts on divorce say that's a key lesson to learn: Don't dwell on what could have been, but rather appreciate the moment and enjoy the spirit of the season.

Related stories:
Latest Headlines

Today on CNN

Related sites:

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window

External sites are not
endorsed by CNN Interactive.

SEARCH CNN.com
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

  
 

Back to the top
© 2000 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.