How to Handle the Holidays in Divorced Families
By Daniel H. Moss, Attorney
For divorced families, holidays can be difficult and stressful. This can have a long-lasting impact on the kids, of course, so planning ahead and determining how you can create special memories and alleviate the strain on your children is important.
Below are some tips I’ve put together to help you handle the holidays after divorce.
Plan ahead for where the children will be for the holidays. Make sure that it’s clear in advance who will have the children on which days to avoid confusion and possible arguing later. Discuss these plans with the kids so they can feel comfortable about the holiday schedule. Allow them to voice any concerns or preferences they may have as well.
Give the kids a break
Holidays can be especially stressful for children of divorce. Communicate with your kids throughout the holiday season. Let them know what you’ll be doing and when and stick to your plans. Keep a holiday calendar where the kids can see it.
Small disappointments can have a big impact, especially during the holidays, so if plans fall through – on your end or your ex spouse’s end – be sure to discuss it and try to plan an alternate activity.
Accept that your traditions may change
Holiday traditions can be impacted by divorce. While the thought of this can be stressful, do what you can to maintain a sense of your holiday traditions and be open to building new traditions moving forward. If you are a part of a blended family, see what traditions you can combine and what new traditions you can create as a full family unit.
Don’t make drastic changes without discussing with the children. Adjust your timing, if needed, to keep your traditions with the kids. If that means you have to wait until Christmas Eve to decorate your tree, perhaps this can be a new tradition for your family.
Discuss the gifts
If possible, discuss with your spouse what gifts you each will be giving so that you can plan ahead for who will give what and also to keep the gift giving even. Neither you nor your spouse should try to out-gift each other. Divorce is difficult for kids, but don’t use gift giving as a way to over compensate or to display your affections.
Take care of yourself too
Don’t spend the holidays alone. If you don’t have the kids for the holidays, be sure to plan activities so you can enjoy them with friends and family.
Plan on two holidays
If your spouse has the kids for the holidays, plan your own celebrations with the kids complete with all the decorations, activities, traditions, and food so that you – and they – do not miss out on those cherished memories.
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