Dec 20, 2010

Holiday Hints for Divorced Parents

The blogosphere abounds with posts like this one, but in my opinion, advice to divorcing parents about how to navigate the holiday season is worth repeating. This Huffington Post article by Diana Mercer offers helpful hints from kids themselves, including one that I think is really important: Plan ahead! Kids want to know what's going to happen, and the last thing you want is to be fighting with your ex about plans just before the holidays. Especially if one parent wants to travel with the kids, or if grandparents or other extended family members are in the mix, it's essential to make detailed plans and manage everyone's expectations.

And when you're making those plans, be as flexible as you can. If your ex wants to pick up the kids an hour early one day so that they can go the airport to meet the visiting grandparents' plane, say yes. If your kid asks for an extra phone call to the other parent, or to trade nights so as not to miss a special holiday party, see what you can do. It's good politics--after all, you might want the same consideration at another time--and it's the right thing to do for your kids.

Even if you're feeling like the Grinch when it comes to your ex, if your family traditionally exchanges gifts then make sure you take your kids shopping for gifts for their other parent. If the holidays are emotionally challenging for you, be sure you take good care of yourself in whatever ways work for you. Don't hesitate to create new family traditions with your post-divorce family configuration--it will take you out of your melancholy and help your kids feel like the changes in their family situation aren't all bad.

The best present you can give your kids is a holiday season that's free of conflict between their parents. Whatever it takes, try for that.