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Holiday Survival Tips for Divorced or Divorcing Parents

Navigating the holidays – the perennial struggle to balance the demands of in-laws, children, travel and extended family – can challenge the happiest of families. But for divorced or divorcing parents, the holidays are often nightmarish, filled with conflict, misunderstanding and disappointment.

But with some thinking ahead and a unified commitment to finding a better way, divorced or divorcing parents can rewrite this script. The following are some ways to ease holiday stress for the kids, and for you and your ex.

  • Plan ahead. Avoid last-minute plans. Giving one another lots of notice – months, not days – means fewer conflicts and problems.
  • Be creative. Thanksgiving can have many flavors; it needn’t be just one day for one parent and the kids. For instance, Thanksgiving Day and Friday could be celebrated with one parent with the other parent having the children for the weekend, regardless of the regular schedule. Christmas can be similarly divided, with Christmas Eve going to one parent and Christmas Day to another.
  • Compromise. Holiday schedules are not black and white. If you don’t have the children for Thanksgiving this year, make an agreement to have them next year.
  • Communicate. There’s no excuse for not communicating during the holidays. Phone, email or text and avoid social media such as Facebook. Your family workings and arrangements are private.
  • It’s about the children, not you! Put aside your power struggles with one another so that your kids can feel the simple joy of the holidays. Be kind and generous; set this example for your children.
  • Celebrate new traditions; go forward and don’t dwell on the past. Choose a special, new activity that you and your kids can look forward every year, such as going ice skating or choosing a new ornament for the tree each year. Allow your kids to speak freely about the things they used to do, as well.
  • Involve extended family and friends, especially those important to your children. Tensions ease when loved ones gather together.

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