Family Rituals, Children and Divorce

Divorce is hard and painful for everyone in a family. One way to help your children through this time of confusion and change is by maintaining your family’s pre-divorce rituals while also creating new ones. Rituals and traditions provide us with meaning in our lives. We often use rituals to mark transitions, the exiting of old and the entering of the new in our lives, but they also provide us with a sense of togetherness and belonging.

By maintaining family rituals you will provide continuity for both your children as well as yourself throughout this time of change and upheaval. Try to make a commitment to continue all the important rituals that you can and replace the ones you can’t with new ones. Get your children involved in the process. The act of creating new rituals and maintaining the old will help your children as well as yourself begin to understand and feel more comfortable about the changes in your lives. Let your children know that even though the structure of your family may be different your love and commitment as parents will always remain the same. This will create a sense of safety throughout the process for your children.

Evan Imber-Black and Janine Roberts talk about the meaning of rituals in our lives in their book Rituals for Our Times: Celebrating, Healing, and Changing Our Lives and Our Relationships.

“Rituals are a central part of life whether it be in how meals are shared together or how major events are marked. They are the lens through which we can see our emotional connections to our parents, siblings, spouse, children, and dear friends. They connect us with our past, define our present life, and show us a path to our future as we pass on ceremonies, traditions, objects, symbols, and ways of being with each other handed down from previous generations.”

Divorce is painful. Divorce is a multilayered loss experienced on a multitude of levels individually and as a family. Identify your support system, don’t go it alone. Maintain your traditions and rituals while also creating new ones to help you stay connected with your children, as well as your extended family and friends. Staying connected will help you begin your journey towards healing and rebuilding your life. Allow yourself grace, lots of grace, ask those you are close to for help and take it a day at a time.

People often say they can’t see it at the beginning, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, and it is bright for you and your children.

– Alison Withey

How can a group be helpful?

Going through separation and divorce can be like riding a roller coaster of emotions, at first you may feel completely overwhelmed, as time passes you may find yourself feeling hopeful for the future only to be knocked down again by black cloud of sadness, anger, anxiety or confusion. It may feel good to know that this is completely normal, the ending of a significant relationship is a major life transition and it can also be a time of great personal growth as you make your way through the process. However when you are in the midst of a separation, in the process of divorce or after your divorce is final, it can be helpful to join with others who understand what you are going through, together you can validate and normalize what you are each feeling, and you can walk away knowing you have a place to go where you can be seen and heard, your pain can be held and you will be encouraged to grow and find happiness once again.

– Alison and Connie