LeopardLIFE

Taking care of the kids

When hard obstacles conflict with happy events

“I’ve kind of just come to learn to accept it. Even though my mother isn’t here, I kind of have a step-mother figure, or mother-figure, but I wouldn’t say it’s the same anymore,” a Willow Springs student said, not wanting to reveal her identity.

-graphic by LeopardLife staff

“I’ve kind of just come to learn to accept it. Even though my mother isn’t here, I kind of have a step-mother figure, or mother-figure, but I wouldn’t say it’s the same anymore,” a Willow Springs student said, not wanting to reveal her identity.

LeopardLife Claire Easley, Editor in Chief and Parker Post, Managing Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






A village of well-assembled gingerbread houses displayed in the corner, the glare of red and white blinking holiday lights in the window, or the glow of the Menorah candles, after a perfect arrangement of steaming festive foods, apple pie is pulled from the oven steaming, the aroma of the holidays permeates the room.

Extended family bear gifts and hugs for the family. Family members gather around the table as the room fills with laughter and happiness of family reuniting.

While many people view this image as the “perfect family,” in reality, many others do not share this image. Their reality differs greatly.

Fifty-four percent of children suffer from divorced and split up parents, and 59 percent are adopted and away from their biological parents during the holidays according Interweb reports. Fifty four percent of kids in the U.S. have divorced parents, which can create conflict when planning for the holidays. Multiple students with divorced parents spend the winter holidays with both parents, creating lots of traveling for the students and stress for the parents.

Even with the broken ideals and hearts of some and the longing of what is said to be “the perfect family”, these difficult situations can be for the best, if handled with care counselors said and students shared.

“I’ve kind of just come to learn to accept it. Even though my mother isn’t here I kind of have a step-mother figure, or mother-figure, but I wouldn’t say it’s the same anymore,” a Willow Springs student said, not wanting to reveal her true identity.

“It is way better living with my dad because even when my mom wasn’t there I always had someone there caring for me, and like I love that and he is always there for me no matter what,” she said.  

While the winter holidays hold a reputation of bringing families together, even if distance is an obstacle. Whether it is a parent stationed overseas or a divorce, the holidays are a time of giving thanks and spending time with family most agree.

“[The bad thing about having divorced parents during the holidays] is not having your whole family in one room celebrating together,” eighth-grader, Maddie Smittle, said.  

Smittle said the situation has bonuses.

“Well, I get two Christmases and twice as many presents. It’s actually a major perk to divorced parents,” Smittle said.

There are thousands of kids in the U.S. whose parents serve in the military, and many don’t have the privilege of spending the winter holidays with their parents. Some have the opportunities to FaceTime or Skype while their parents are stationed overseas, but not all have this opportunity.

WSMS student Taiden Connor’s mom serves stationed outside the country. Recently, WSMS advisory classes had the opportunity to FaceTime her and some other troops on Veteran’s Day.  Connor shared other personal experiences aside from the recent Skype at WSMS.

“[When my mom can’t come home] I spend time with my uncles, aunties, and brothers, but when she doesn’t come home it’s kind of hard because I don’t have the chance to be with her to celebrate,” eighth-grader, Connor, said.

While Taiden’s mom is away he lives with fellow eighth-grade student Noah Naidoo and has become a part of his family. Because Taiden can’t always spend the holidays with his biological family, he visits family gatherings and spends some holidays with the Naidoo’s.

“Last year Taiden did spend Christmas and New Year’s with us, but this year he is going to spend the holidays with his family. Usually he goes to his dad’s house or his brother comes and gets him from Houston. It’s fun when Taiden spends the holidays with us, and it’s always great to have someone your age at the holiday event, but sometimes I wonder how he feels on not spending the holidays with his actual family,” Naidoo said.

Though winter holidays are not the only special occasions some kids aren’t around their parents during. Birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and other seasonal holidays are among these.

Although it can be difficult not having family around during important events and holiday, students have learned to find the bright-side to the problem.

A number of kids are in programs that work alongside Court Appointed Special Advocates (CAPA), an association that thrives to have a safe, permanent home for every child who has been a victim of abuse or neglect.

CASA/GAL volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes. Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA/GAL volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives.

According to ifstudies.org, in 2010 more than 1.5 million people in state or U.S. federal prisons were parents, and another 750,000 individuals were in jail. Close to six out of ten incarcerated parents received no personal visits from their children in 2010, and 84 percent of parents in federal prisons are held more than 100 miles away from where they lived previously. Approximately 43 percent lived over 500 miles away from their prior residence.

The website conducted a series of interviews with 62 individuals regarding relatives who had been/were at the time incarcerated.

We were not expecting incarceration to enter these narratives of care and loss, but 12 of the 62 people we interviewed, either the interviewee, a sibling, or a parent had been or was incarcerated at the time we talked,” Amy Ziettlow for ifstudies.org said.

“Most imprisonments were related to non-violent or drug-related offenses. Our interviewees’ memories of an imprisoned family member spanned from their childhood in the 80s and 90s to the present, with one parent dying in prison. All realized that their concept of home changed when a loved one went to prison,” Ziettlow said.

School counselors shared other strategies and struggles with holidays separated from loved ones.

“For students whose nuclear family is not here in north Texas, it may mean lots of traveling.  It may mean celebrating on different days, maybe holding multiple celebrations, and maybe having to be creative in the ways they connect with family.  For many families, traveling may not be possible due to work/time constraints and cost,” Li-Z counselor, Kay Bordelon, said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Taking care of the kids

    WSMS Video Spot News

    Peace cranes sent from art program to Hiroshima

  • Taking care of the kids

    Showcase

    Flags flew high at state with Color Guard win

  • Taking care of the kids

    Showcase

    ‘Ensuring a safe, healthy and happy learning environment’

  • Taking care of the kids

    Showcase

    Student safety is ‘number one goal’

  • Taking care of the kids

    Showcase

    Self-love and self-care are building blocks to relationships

  • Taking care of the kids

    Showcase

    WSMS flu cases on the rise

  • Taking care of the kids

    Showcase

    The holidays continue minus one long-time Fairview elf

  • Taking care of the kids

    Showcase

    Veterans Day honors soldiers’ service

  • Taking care of the kids

    Showcase

    Dangers potentially lurk in Halloween baskets

  • Taking care of the kids

    Campus Life

    TAG – students are “it” to inspire others

Skip to toolbar
The student news site of Willow Springs Middle School
Taking care of the kids