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The Divorced Parents’ Guide to the Holiday Season


When planning for the holiday season, divorced parents must make an extra effort to communicate with their former spouse. Holiday plans must be made with everyone’s feelings in mind, and must be created with understanding, patience, diplomacy, and respect. Topics of conversation will include gift giving, events, reunions, dinners, parties, and travel arrangements. To make your holidays a little easier and more enjoyable for all concerned, we have provided some holiday tips for helping your children adjust and enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season.

1. Develop a plan prior to the holiday season
Create a detailed parenting schedule months before the holidays, and try to agree on a plan that allows each parent at least one an entire day with the children.

2. Put the plan in writing
After you agree on a schedule, email everyone a copy of the agreement so everyone has easy access to the details of the plan. Be sure to include the arrival times and departure times for pick-ups and drop offs.

3. Communicate often
If your children are not with you for the holidays, make certain to include a communication plan so you can stay in touch.

4. Celebrate creatively
If your children will not be with you, consider creating a plan to have your own special celebration either before or after the actual holidays.

5. Help your children keep in touch
If the children are spending the holiday with you, arrange a quiet and private time for them to speak with their other parent. Make sure that you give the children any gifts, cards and/or emails from the other parent while they are with you.

6. Giving gifts
Coordinate gift giving with the other parent so you can both avoid the duplication of gifts.

7. Let your children enjoy their gifts
Let your child take their gifts from you to your ex-spouse’s home if they wish to do so.

8. Give your child permission to love both parents
If your child is too young to choose a gift for their other parent, help your child buy or create a gift and/or card. By doing so, you will be teaching your child about generosity, and about being kind and thoughtful. You will also be giving your child permission to love their other parent.

9. Make lasting memories
Take pictures of your holiday time together, cook a special dinner together, decorate for the holidays, and/or make holiday ornaments.
Create a scrapbook of your special events and memories with your children.

10. Talk to your children about new traditions
The holidays can be tough for all family members after a divorce, but it doesn’t mean that you cannot create new traditions together. Letting go of comparisons with the past, and staying positive will help you all enjoy a holiday season that is loving, happy, and meaningful.