Holiday survival tips for divorced parents

Jessica Woll
Woll & Woll, P.C.

Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Chanukah! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! The season for fun, peace, harmony and good will is approaching, but for the more than four million divorced parents having to share time with their children this holiday season, extra effort is required to keep the holidays joyful. Here are six holiday survival tips for divorced parents.

1. Remain "child-centric" at all times.

A child's needs always come first. I remind clients to ask themselves what their child will benefit from most. What will create happy holiday memories? When parents answer these questions as if they were the child, the answer places the child's needs first. And yes, this may mean allowing the child to pick out a gift for the other parent at the ex's expense.

2. Be flexible.

As children grow, their needs change; a holiday parenting schedule created when the child was five years old may not be right for the child at fifteen.

If a judgment of divorce calls for equal parenting time over the winter break and holidays, remember that mathematical equality might not be perfect for each child, every year of their life, until they turn 18.

3. Remember to share the children.

As a family law attorney for more than 20 years, I have found that young children want nothing more than to spend time with both of their parents at the same time - and this wish can be most powerful during the holidays. If parents can stomach it, try to include the ex in one of the family events or plan a small outing for just the parents and the child; something as simple as going to a movie can create a happy holiday memory for children.

4. Start a new holiday tradition.

Whether it's simply reading a special holiday book or taking a family trip, creating new traditions as the children grow can help ease the loss they feel as a result of their parents' separation and make the holidays more manageable and enjoyable for all.

5. Control emotions and "fake it 'til you make it."

The holidays are the worst time to utter even one negative comment about the other parent or his/her family. While many parents are divorced because they have been wronged by their ex, they may have to fake it and shelve their feelings, especially during the holidays.

6. Planning and communication are key.

Ample planning and communication can help the season go smoothly for both the parents and children. It may also save parents from rushing to court at the last minute to enforce holiday parenting time agreements.

The goal is to stay out of court; planning with the ex several weeks, or even months, before the holidays arrive and confirming plans in writing can help achieve this goal.

Published: Fri, Nov 06, 2015

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