Blog | December 18, 2014

Separated or Divorced? Tips for Navigating the Holidays

Whether it’s Christmas, Chanukah or Kwanzaa, even the most amicably separated/divorced parents may find the holiday waters treacherous. Here are some ideas to stay clear of the shoals:

Get set mentally

  • Stowe your emotional baggage below deck. Keep your children high and dry and far away from the surge of parental conflict.
  • Figure out your own needs. You are more apt to tune in to your children’s needs when you look after yourself first. Whether it’s working out, having a massage, or getting enough sleep, the investment will yield great dividends.

Have a plan

  • Work out a plan that you and your ex can agree to. Get specific: include the who, what, where and when. This is when obsessionality can work to your advantage.
  • Keep the children front and center. Why not involve them in developing a holiday calendar? “Christmas eve at mom’s and Christmas lunch at dads.”
  • Transitions between homes are hard for children at the best of times. Be mindful of the toll it can take on them. Give them a heads up before the next transition.” You can watch TV for 10 more minutes and then your Mother will be here to take you out.” Remember to include some down time.
  • Younger children will benefit from keeping to their regular schedule as much as possible; older children can handle the changes more readily.

Be prepared to modify the plan

  • Remember the power outages last year? Accept that not everything will go according to plan. Focus on negotiating schedule changes with your ex in a tension free manner. Your children are always watching and learning from you.

Keep to the high road

  • When in the presence of family and friends your children may hear negative stuff about their other parent. Remind others of the old adage, “if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.”
  • Love is a gift your children won’t outgrow. Let them experience yours, but remember to tell them that both parents love them.

Post written by:

Jan Schloss MSW AccFM
Registered Social Worker

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