An Open Letter to Divorced Parents at Christmas,

Hi. I’m Chloe and I’m 16. Divorce happened in my life when I was one year old.

This is the first Christmas I’m looking forward to. Any other year I couldn’t care less if tomorrow was Christmas and to be honest, I learned to dread all holidays.

Today I will be a voice for the four year old who doesn’t understand why this Christmas Mommy is not at Daddy’s house to open presents.

Little kids may not be able to speak out yet so I will for them.

I dreaded picking whose house I wanted to be at and dreaded the stress of hurting someone’s feelings that comes with it.

I also dreaded being forced to go to either house when I didn’t want to go.

My feelings matter.

Half a day here and half a day there is not fun. (And thankfully my parents did not make me do this.)

I dreaded presents I wouldn’t like but was told gift cards are tacky to ask for. They are not. Gift cards are okay to ask for.

I dreaded time with people who made me feel unwanted.

Divorce changes a family but not many people think of how the kid was affected.

You don’t “have” me or “get” me for Christmas.

I “get” chicken pox.

I “have” a rash.

I “have” to “go.”

I “got” a broken arm.

“I have my son for the holidays.”

What? You don’t “have” him like you have a rash. You’re blessed to spend time with him this Christmas. And if you’re truly blessed to spend Christmas with him, then treat him like it.

And don’t let him feel the divorce was his fault. Don’t be fake, either. You’re the grown up and if you want your kid to be part of your family, too, then act like it and take the first step.

While I understand some kids with divorced parents act like they don’t care because they’re getting extra presents, some place underneath it all they actually do care and they’re hurting.

Most of the time I couldn’t care less about the presents because hurt and sad memories were attached to them. Because every time I see the game that was at the top of my wish list, I remember the tears of missing my mom, and of brokenness that went along with this present.

A lot of us feel hurt that Christmas isn’t “normal” (whatever normal is.) Or kids are sad that their family is broken. Or they feel like a bother because Christmas family vacations aren’t whole. Or they feel left out of family events. Being a kid is hard enough. Please don’t add stress of your divorce to my life.

The divorce was not my fault. And I should get to hear that. Often.

Contrary to what many kids from divorced parents think, I know it wasn’t my fault. But I still feel stuck in the middle – because I AM.

I’m stuck between Mom and Dad and words like “biological” and “step.”  (I’m SO done with the word “step.”)

I’m stuck between two homes.

I’m stuck between feelings of brokenness and extra love.

I already feel torn and broken that you guys aren’t married anymore so please don’t add to that by forcing me or guilting me into coming over. I didn’t ask for the divorce and I’m not the grown up.

I’m the little kid who is learning that happily ever after isn’t always true.

Just talk to me.

Even as little kids we understand a lot more than you think we do. Talk with me WITHOUT trashing the other parent. It is okay for me to love Mom and Dad and I can even love new parents and new siblings. God doesn’t limit or divide our love. He increases it.

I get it. You’re grieving. I need time to grieve, too. Something died and it’s okay if I’m upset. Tell me it’s okay that I’m upset. I lost something too. I lost Christmas the way I wanted it to be.

Just love me today and spend time with me today. Pray over me. Remind me it’s okay to love Mommy AND Daddy and all the rest of this messy family – because it IS okay and I should get to hear that.

I will be okay and you will be okay.

I will love you BOTH and anyone else I choose to love – and you need to be okay with that.

I am blessed to get to spend time at Christmas with two parents, even if at separate houses, who love me and are nice to (and about) each other.

A Note from Chloe’s Mom.

Sometimes there are things that we never would have thought of before divorce that are now real life for us.

Celebrating on “the actual date” doesn’t matter anymore. You celebrate when you can and with the people who can be there.  And that’s okay.

You learn to accept that life looks different now – and that is okay. Even if other people don’t understand everything, that’s still okay.  We know that every situation is different.

You pray over your children and encourage them to enjoy time at the other parent’s house. Sure. Let them know you miss them but more people to love and care about any child in a healthy way is a good thing. It is okay for kids to enjoy Christmas at either house. I KNOW it’s rough. I spent many hours crying because holidays didn’t feel whole anymore. In fact, I spent many hours crying over just missing regular, everyday life moments.

If you’re a single mom or dad, we know it’s tough. We’ve been there. A lot of presents aren’t necessary. Your time just hanging out and listening to your kids matters more. If the other parent can afford more presents, that’s okay. If not, that’s okay, too.

We will be okay and you will be okay.

We wish you a peaceful and stress free Christmas – however that looks at your house.

Love, Kerri and Chloe

 

[Note:  Unfortunately, there are many times a child should not be in the care of someone.  Please do pay attention if something seems unsettling.  Everyone involved in a divorce can probably benefit from counseling if needed.]

 

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Single? That’s cool. Window shopping? Probably always. What’s on “The List?”

[Note: This is written EXPECTING that the man is a man of good character and not abusing his daughters in any way. And, yes, I do need to mention this. Also I am a mom of two girls so realize this is written from a mom of two girls. I don’t have sons so I’m not writing from that perspective.]

Our oldest daughter was talking about a boy she thought was cute. I asked her what she liked about him. My husband started asking questions too.

I stopped and listened. I just froze. That was so cool. I wondered what that feeling was. What WAS that? It was BEAUTIFUL. Oh, it’s called LOVE. Our girls FEEL valued because daddy CARES who they hang out with.

Dads SHOULD be involved. Dads need to SAY to a boy, “My daughter is so valuable and I am trusting you. I expect you to treat her like you want your mom or sister to be treated.”

Make that list. If you choose to be married what would you want in a husband? I mean the stuff that really matters.

Here’s a start of a list to inspire you. And you are never too young to make “The List.” (not in any particular order)

1. Honesty and integrity in ALL things.

2. Loves Jesus and is a spiritual leader for your home.

3. Faithful to you and only you as his wife. No pornography. Period.

4. He will have a healthy relationship with your kids.

5. Learns what makes you feel loved on and acts on it.

6. Listens to the Holy Spirit to guide him.

7. Supports you in things you know God is leading you to do.

8. OUR money is just that. OUR money. Not yours and mine. Make the budget together.

9. Wait. Wait for God to show you who your husband is. Don’t just marry anyone you think may work. What God brings together let nobody separate.

10. He does not use credit cards. Period. Stuff is not so urgent that you must buy it now and pay it off for years. You want to live debt free. Debt is slavery. Nobody wants to be a slave.

11. You’re worth waiting for.

12. (Keep thinking. Keep praying. I’ll be praying, too.)

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My daughters gave their list about dating. (This stuff should continue after the wedding.)
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1. Treat me with respect. I am a person and I have feelings.

2. Open the door for me sometimes.

3. Be a gentleman.

4. Listen to me and really hear what I have to say.

5. Do not act like I’m not there when your friends are around.

6. Don’t cheat on me.

7. Be nice to my friends.

8. Be nice to me.

9. Call me every once in a while.

10. Tell me (sweetly) when I’m annoying you.

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I asked my husband for his input when it comes to boys who want to date our daughters.
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Advice to the boys who consider dating my daughters:

1. Get out of your car and ring the doorbell. She is worth it. If you can’t get out of your car to get my daughter and to bring her back and make sure she gets in the house okay then you cannot date my daughter.

2. Before you leave with my daughter and when you bring her home, you will shake my hand and look me in the eyes.

3. Before you can have a relationship with my daughter you have to have a relationship with God.

4. You need a strong work ethic.

5. I want to see how you interact with your mom. Because if you don’t have respect for your mom then you’re not going to have respect for my daughter or me or my wife.

6. Bring her home on time. ALWAYS.

7. Our daughters are valuable and you will treat them as the treasures they are.

8. Whatever you do with my daughter imagine me doing that with you.