“Adult POD Children, Holiday Complexity”
Family separation and divorce bestows upon the involved children unforeseen, complex, life challenges for most of their remaining lives. These inevitable situations many times get dumped into the laps of the kids with the divorced parents oblivious to the negative impact on the children’s lives and relationships.
There is no manual for these situations; no protocols, no “right way” to go about it. Even as adults, these children are afraid to seriously discuss such situations with their parents. And, when they marry, their spouses often adopt that fear and avoid addressing the issues, even when they cause serious problems within their marriage.
As members of PEOPLE OF DIVORCE – The Association, our value to each other is to report and discuss these complex situations. This allows the membership to share what remedies they have tried that have succeeded or failed.
Consider the current situation of Elisha and James. This married, 30ish couple has two young children.
James’ parents divorced when he was 8 years old. But, the family was always very close and spent much time together. Even after his mother and father remarried, gatherings in both new households continue to host weekly family interactions. Elisha will say that there is so much socializing within James’ family that, if unchecked, every weekend and some week nights would be spent in the company of his mother’s or father’s extended families.
Elisha’s parents married young and have a solid marriage of 40 years. Her family gets together, but not nearly as much as her husband’s. Elisha’s family members enjoy their interactions, but are they are not as close and interdependent as James’ family.
James’ wants to spend as much time with his family as possible. Elisha says she fights all the time with James for time to spend with him alone, together with their kids, and with her family. The amount of time they spend with James’ family also has reduced their socialization with other couples and friends to almost zilch.
So, where is the real complexity? Christmas.
James asserts that, because his mom and dad have different families, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day time should be split 1/3 – 1/3 – 1/3. Elisha demands that this time be a 50-50 time divide between her family and his two. Elisha asks James why her parents should be penalized by losing time with their grandchildren at Christmas for maintaining a happy marriage. She asks James to consider if her parents were also divorced and remarried, would he not be agreeable to splitting the holiday 25-25-25-25 across the four parent households?
Neither will budge on the issue. Lack of resolution has resulted in other aspects of their relationship to break down. The problem extends to children’s birthdays and other holidays.
Because James and Elisha refuse to discuss the issue with their parents, they are clueless to the impact of it on their kids’ marriage.
Elisha is to the point of believing that, if James’ cannot “let go” of his family a little bit and they don’t crack this nut, it could cause them to divorce.
Imagine that two more kids could end up becoming children of divorce because their parents could not agree on with whom they will spend Christmas!
Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But, it is a real example of the unintended consequences and natural complexity of POD children.
If you have had a similar experience, post a comment. Share what you have done to remedy such situations. What do you think should be the protocol in this circumstance? Let’s talk about it in the POD community and help Elisha and James work it out!