Divorces and Holidays

Posted:  Jun 12, 2019

Divorces and separations are stressful enough without the pressure of holidays looming on the horizon. Figuring out how to juggle extra holiday commitments, gift purchases, and blending traditions are not easy tasks. Furthermore, managing work schedules and how to share the children during celebrations can indeed make you want to run and hide until the holidays have passed.

However, it doesn’t have to be difficult. With open, honest communication and an understanding of everyone’s wants and needs, managing the holidays can be smoother sailing than you think. Set the tone for the year ahead by making a concerted effort to be civilized and put the children’s needs at the forefront. 

  • Maintain open lines of communication with everyone concerned and don’t resort to avoiding phone calls or texts. Making assumptions that taking the children on certain days will be okay with the ex-spouse without letting them know ahead of time is also not advisable. It’s up to the adults to ensure everyone knows what to expect regarding schedules and celebrations.
  • Keep your relationship structured, relatively uninvolved, and business-like. Your polite manners will go a long way in building a decent future relationship with your ex-spouse.
  • Be willing to compromise on certain events and re-scheduling. If you’re only concerned about being right or having your way all the time, no one is going to compromise in your favour. In addition, avoid announcing your compromises—your children do not need to travel on your guilt trips.
  • If you’re comfortable, collaborate with your former spouse about gift giving. Don’t turn it into a competition and honour individual budgets.
  • Don’t force spending holidays together if there are too many difficult feelings—the children will sense it. Manage separate holidays with diplomacy. 
  • Ensure there is no competition between extended family, such as grandparents. They must honour the choices you and your former spouse make on behalf of the children. Be prepared to say no occasionally and not feel guilty.
  • Instead of dwelling on the absence of old traditions, establish new ones with the children for a fresh start.
  • Plan ahead to avoid stressful last-minute holiday confrontations.
  • Learn to let go of control regarding how the children spend holidays with the other parent. Take advantage of your time on your own to focus on healing, exercising, or doing whatever you enjoy.
  • Practice forgiveness and letting go of anger or resentments. Locate a good therapist if you need support.
  • Keep a positive spin on events and encourage your children to enjoy their time with the other parent.
  • Avoid placing youngsters in the middle of a dispute over visitation schedules. Give a little, get a little. If all else fails, consult with your lawyer after the holidays to sort it out.
You and your former spouse will always be connected through your children, so coordinating schedules as positively as possible will make future contact less awkward. From graduations, weddings, and further holidays, setting the tone now affects future interactions. Envision clear communication, calm meetings, and happier, well-adjusted children. Set your emotions aside, no matter how justified they may be, and do what’s best.

Finally, you don’t have to accept that the holidays are going to be a struggle, filled with misery and upset, alone. You truly do get to decide how it’s going to go on your side. Reach out for support when you need it.


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