Therapist offers advice for divorced parents

Holidays can be more difficult on divorced families

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Sam Wasserman, 12, still remembers where he and his sister were when his mother told them she and their father were getting a divorce.

"I remember sitting on the couch watching football, and mom pauses the game and she just breaks it to us," said Wasserman.

Both of Sam's parents were concerned with how the decision would affect their children.

"Because, really, you're making a choice. It's not like an accident that happens to them," said Jonah Wasserman, Sam's father. "It's a choice that you and your spouse make and it affects the lives of little kids that are innocent, and that was really sad for me."

The divorce made the holidays especially difficult.

"In the very beginning, it was tough, and when I didn't have them on Thanksgiving or any holiday, I would actually fly out of town, get myself out of town, because I didn't want to be in the same area and not be with them," said Rebecca Wasserman, Sam's mother.

Karen Sacks, a family therapist at Center for Rational Solutions, said it's important for divorcing couples to remember that their children should come first.

"If we can just remember to love our children more than we're upset or dislike our spouse, it helps us tremendously," said Sacks.

Sacks said parents need to include the children in any plans for the holidays or special occasions, reassure them they they'll be okay on their own, encourage them to have fun with the ex-spouse, and make plans to celebrate at another time.

"Very often the children are torn because they don't want to choose between mom and their dad," said Sacks. "Let them feel that security because in the end, that's what really counts."

The Wassermans have found a way to manage the holidays and special occasions without creating tension, helping their children adjust.

"I try to make it fun for myself, most of the time. Think of the bright side, think of the positive," said Sam Wasserman.

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