A Boston-area child psychologist said that when it comes to co-parenting during the holidays, the children's thoughts and feelings should be the focus for parents.
"Permission and encouragement to have children share their feelings, concerns and questions ahead of time helps you become knowledgeable and better prepared to deal with the issues at hand," Dr. Donna Housman, founder of The Housman Institute, which offers materials and training to support mental health in children, told Fox News Digital.
Housman, also the author of a new children's book, "Theo’s Deliciously Different Dumplings," said that allowing the sharing of feelings helps kids to feel valued and accepted.
"This gives the message to your children that all feelings are OK; it’s what we do with them that matters most."
"Permission and encouragement to have children share their feelings, concerns and questions ahead of time helps you become knowledgeable and better prepared to deal with" issues that turn up, said Boston psychologist Donna Housman. (iStock)
She noted that when parents share their own feelings in a "developmentally appropriate way," this helps reinforce to children that "they’re not alone."
She also said, "Communication is key. Communication is not only about talking, but more about listening."
The goal is to provide opportunities for children to feel "heard, safe, valued and respected" as a "very important part of the family" whose presence "can be of tremendous help in seeking a positive outcome," she also said.
When parents share their own feelings "in a developmentally appropriate way," this helps reinforce to children that "they’re not alone," said Boston-area child psychologist Donna Housman. (iStock)
Noting that "the children's best interests always come first," Housman said that depending on the nature of the relationship between the divorced or separated parents, several options may be possible for the holidays.
"Spending the holiday together, if on good terms, or splitting the day into halves" may be options, she noted.
Also, "agreeing [on] which holidays will be spent with any given parent" is another option — so that children have an understanding in advance and "it’s not a last-minute decision."
Whichever option the parents choose, it’s best to stay with it, she noted. If a situation emerges that requires a change, "make sure you discuss it together for implementation for the following year," she added.
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