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Divorce Makes Holidays Difficult

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The holidays can be stressful, whether the family is intact or not
RALEIGH — The holidays are usually pictured as a timefor families to get together for shopping, cookie baking, wrappingpackages, going to church and generally spending time in each other'scompany.

But for families that have undergone a divorce or separation, thespirit of the season can be stressful. Children are often expected to celebrateholidays in more than one place to satisfy all the relatives. Theyliterally have to go indifferent directions, and if grandparents enter the equation, itcan be four destinations -- all in a short period of time.

But it's not just the children whofeel the loneliness. Parents, whether they are custodial or non-custodial,can feel an acute loss of the family unit.

Jeff Goldman, a divorced father, said of his relatives, "They kind ofthink I'm the bad guy. They invite my ex and my children when they get achance -- but I haven't had a turkey there yet."

For Lynne Wixom the hardest thing was getting used to the fact thatthe entire family wouldn't be together on Christmas to openpresents.

To ease their stress or to distract themselves, divorced parents oftenturn to fun activities. The organization ParentsWithout Partners is one such group that sponsors events during theholidays to reduceloneliness and to offer support.

Psychologist Russ Newman suggests that, despite a divorce, peopleshould create new traditions that can be looked forward to annually byboth adults and children.

A totally stress-free holiday probably is unrealistic -- for everyone,no matter their marital situation. But planning can help divorced familiesward off some problems.

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