Dr. Sharon Ufberg and her three children offer advice about family, love and life. Send your questions to email@example.com.
My issue is the hassle that divorce creates for the children. As a 27-year-old daughter of divorced parents, I am tired of splitting my holiday time between my mom’s and dad’s places. For the past eight years I have eaten two turkey dinners, sat through multiple seders and spent way too much time sitting in traffic trying to get to the other parent’s home in time for “their” celebration. I am now living with my boyfriend and want my parents to “bury the hatchet” and be able to share special time with us together. Any great ideas how to make this happen? S.E., Berkeley
Alexis: I believe it’s time to take control of this situation. I suggest getting both of your parents to sit down with you — together — and discuss how this issue can be resolved. It’s not fair to make you run around town doing holidays in double vision. As a kid of divorced parents, I know how difficult your circumstance is, and how tender the feelings are that bubble up around it. But this is not fair to you, and frankly, it’s unreasonable of your parents to expect this level of compromise from you indefinitely. This is a delicate situation that involves a good deal of cooperation and likely some concession from all three of you. Show your concern and care for your parents’ feelings and hopefully they’ll do the same for you.
Saul: This is rough, and I feel for you. It’s not convenient to have your parents in two separate places. I think Lex is right, you have to talk to them, or at least have them get you a prepaid gas card for all the driving!
Sharon: It is true that children want nothing more than to have their family reunited, even if just for a simple family dinner. I think it is really important that you create opportunities for all of you to be together for short time periods that don’t have too much special meaning. I wouldn’t start with a seder or your birthday dinner, but instead try inviting them both over for tea to show something new to them. Tiptoeing into time together may give both a chance to get comfortable being in the same room and ease them into the idea of spending important holidays together. It is possible and makes life so much more enjoyable when the shift happens.
Jessica: If you’re going to take my mom’s advice (which I agree with), make sure your parents know that the other will be there — you don’t want to trick them into coming over. I think once you express your need for them to be present for you, together, they should and will put you ahead of their discomfort or past issues. Try to remind them that they have a life full of celebrations and holidays ahead and it’s best to get into a happy (or even pleasant!) space with each other now.
Dr. Sharon Ufberg is a Napa-based radio host, journalist, consultant and integrative health practitioner. Her daughters live in San Francisco: Lawyer-turned-writer Alexis Sclamberg, 28 and married; and hair colorist Jessica Sclamberg, 26 and single. Saul Sclamberg, 24 and single, studies chiropractic in Los Angeles. Read more at http://r-2-cents.com.