Smith Mills & Schrock

A Guide to The Holiday Season Post Divorce

Ho Ho Ho Hold Up; I Have to Do What with My Holidays?! – A Guide to The Holiday Season Post Divorce

By Samuel E. Charnetski

I understand that not everyone loves the holidays, but I think it is safe to say that most of us do – especially the gift giving holidays.  For families of divorce, this time of year can be a veritable minefield where each turn can yield a new and fresh argument.  I understand that the holiday season post-divorce is tough on everyone – I lived it. Although double Thanksgivings, in theory, seem great in reality it’s a marathon of the most epic proportions. Here are a couple tips to help post-divorce families navigate the tumult of the holiday season.

First, as parents, you need to put your legitimate feelings of anger, resentment, or general negativity aside and think about what is best for your children and what they want. Divorce entails a lot of changes and splitting the holidays between homes may be the most noticeable change for some children. As a result, it is important to encourage your children to spend the holidays with your spouse and their family too. As an influential adult in their lives, you need to set a positive example.  Take your children shopping to pick out a gift for their other parent. Let the kids decide what mom or dad wants (although you may need to give some guidance). Encouraging your children to give gifts to your ex not only teaches them the importance of thoughtful gift giving it shows them that you and your ex still care for them.

Second, you and your ex need to communicate.  If this is your first holiday season post-divorce you may be in for a rude awakening. Think about it – the holidays when you were married were hectic and now there is two of almost everything. Time and time again I see clients say that they can work out the holidays when they get to them. That is a bad idea. The best way to have a smooth holiday season is to communicate with each other and have a detailed plan regarding who will have the kids when, who will pick up the kids from where, and so forth.  There is still time this year to make sure your holiday plan is in place.  If, however, your delay getting your holiday plan in place and you and your ex struggle through holiday hand offs, take the season as a growth moment and set up your plan for next year’s holidays then so that everyone is prepared.

Finally, do not be afraid to adopt new traditions for your new family dynamic.  The holidays are a time of joy and togetherness.  Being mired in an old tradition that does not promote your new holiday experiences does nothing but force your family to remember how things once were instead of focusing on the positives of your new lives.

Bottom Line: Enjoy your holiday season with your family and make sure you children know they can and should enjoy their holiday season with your ex.

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