7 Ways to Make the Holidays Easier for Divorced Parents and their Children

Like it or not, the holidays are just around the corner. If you are a divorced parent, the word “holiday” may send chills up your spine. The season can be a tricky time for exes and their children. So how can you stay conflict-free as you delicately navigate through the cheery season — a time of year when nostalgia fills the air, children are pulled in every direction, and feelings are often overly-sensitive?
For starters, keep a healthy perspective and remain as objective as you can, even if you are not feeling so festive. With a positive outlook, it is possible to gracefully move through the holidays with a sense of good cheer and even feelings of goodwill.

Follow these 7 tips to avoid tense holiday situations so your season can go as smoothly as possible for all:

1. Always put your children first. Keep them out of the middle. Do not place them in the unfair position of having to choose between parents.

2. Accept your parenting plan and choose to make the best of it. Schedule your holiday plans around your predetermined dates.

3. Focus on the time you have with your children instead bemoaning the time you won’t be together.

4. Start new family traditions. Instead of trying to imitate old family traditions, create something totally new. You may want to take your kids to feed the homeless, adopt a less-fortunate family through your place of worship, host a potluck dinner with friends and neighbors, or bundle up for a winter picnic. There are so many ways to create new memories.

5. Be flexible. Holiday dates are much more important to adults than to children. Children are usually quite happy celebrating a day or so late. Roll with it.

6. Help your child make or purchase a gift for the other parent. By doing so, you are showing respect for the other parent and your child is watching. Your gracious behavior in both giving and receiving gifts with your ex will not go unnoticed by your kids.

7. Take care of yourself. That sounds really simple, but if you get enough sleep, exercise, eat well and surround yourself with people you love and trust, you will be better equipped to handle whatever the holidays bring your way.

Sparring with your ex during the holidays only causes more stress than what this time of year typically brings. The way you and your ex behave during the holiday season will leave an indelible impression on your kids. Make sure your children remember their childhood holidays as times of happiness and joy, even though their parents are no longer together.