Holiday Tips for Divorced Parents

Divorce can cause strains on households this time of year, but families can still have a peaceful holiday season.

Even for the healthiest and most amicable legal separations or divorces, the holidays can be a trying time. This is particularly true if there are young children involved and the divorce is recent and fresh in everyone’s mind.

These times are not just hard on children, however. Single parents may combat feelings of loneliness when spending time away from the children, and coordinating with a former spouse to make holiday arrangements can be stressful, to say the least.

Here are a few thoughtful tips to help ease the tension and make the holiday season a success for everyone.

Putting the Kids First

It can be all too easy to focus on your own rational self-interest as a loving parent over the holidays. Odds are, your former spouse is going through the same thoughts as well. Instead, try placing the focus on what is best for your kids over the holidays. Think about what is best for the children, rather than focusing on whether you or your spouse are getting the most time with them or winning the “cool parent” battle.

Let the kids’ needs and priorities guide the holiday planning, and you are well on your way toward a successful holiday already.

Take the Time to Discuss

Discussion is an essential component of keeping the joy present during the holidays. Don’t hit kids with sudden last-minute plans or blindside your former spouse with a proposed shift in visitation arrangements. Take the time to talk it out, discussing the holiday travel plans with the children, former spouse and even grandparents.

So long as everyone has had a chance to discuss and knows what to expect, it is less likely there will be hurt feelings or unfulfilled expectations. To that end, let children know what will be different and what will stay exactly the same post-divorce. Your children may even have input on the family traditions they want to stay or new traditions they would be excited to try. Simply put, a healthy dialogue is good for everyone.

Be Considerate

Nothing sours the holiday spirit quite like being the parent stuck with tired kids after they had all the fun at the other parent’s place. If you know your former spouse has early plans, don’t keep your children up late. Be considerate of everyone’s schedule to ensure there are no feelings of bitterness and resentment. And, avoid talking negatively about your ex when children are present. Even if you aren’t sharing the same space, children don’t want to hear terrible things about any parent.

Similarly, be considerate of your former spouse’s needs and feelings as well. Ex-spouses often question whether they should spend time together during the holiday for the needs of the children. Talk about it with your spouse, but don’t jump into such a big decision unless both parties are ready for sharing the same environment. Otherwise, an argument or uncomfortable dynamics could ensue.

But, if both parties can engage amicably, it could certainly make for a more meaningful and memorable holiday for the children. Above all else, be kind and loving to the people who matter in your life during the holidays. Do that, and your holiday season will be filled with joy instead of angst.

At The McKinney Law Group, we wish you the happiest of holidays with your family. If you have questions regarding Guardian Ad Litems, or are unaware as to the terms and conditions in, talk to, and retain, a family law attorney who can help. Contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at [email protected]