Handling Christmas Between Divorced Co-Parents

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The holiday season is approaching, bringing with it the delight and excitement of coming together as a family. However, Christmas can be a source of stress and tension for divorced parents, not forgetting their children who might find the holidays tough to cope with.

As a parent in such a situation, you might struggle to come up with arrangements that suit everyone. Divorce can be especially hard for your children, causing them to develop anxiety, depression or a host of other emotional and behavioral issues. They can also end up feeling isolated, insecure, confused, angry and resentful towards you and your ex.

You should, therefore, keep an eye on them and try to make the holidays as inclusive, pleasant and enjoyable as you possibly can. Although this might seem like an arduous, difficult task, it’s actually possible to pull it off with a little planning and compromise from you and your co-parent.

Here are four of the most common issues you are likely to encounter as well as their possible fixes:

1. Who has custody of the children over the holidays?

In order to avoid a full-blown family crisis, it is crucial to sort this out months before Christmas. It always helps if you and your ex develop a parenting plan or custody calendar of sorts so you know who gets the kids beforehand. Another way around this is to alternate every year so nobody feels cheated. Honest and open communication is the key here. Just don’t make the children choose as they can end up feeling like they’ve betrayed one of their parents.

2. What gifts to give your children.

It is common to have co-parents with different purchasing power. However, if you don’t watch out, this can be a source of jealousy or guilt as you compete with your ex on who can give the most expensive or coolest gifts. This just sets a bad example for your children and creates tension around the holidays. If possible, consult each other on what to give or even buy one big present together.

3. Whether to invite your ex to the Christmas party.

While you might want to invite your former spouse over for your kids’ sake, this can only work if you are cordial towards each other. You should also take care not to raise false hopes in your children when giving the impression of an intact family unit. Additionally, ensure you take any step-parents and step-siblings into consideration.

4. Should you maintain Christmas traditions or change them?

Instead of clinging to memories of the past, let your holiday traditions evolve to reflect the changes in your family. Something as simple as hosting your extended family or going away on vacation can do your children a world of good and give them something to look forward to. Ensure you keep your ex in the loop to avoid misunderstandings.

If you notice that your child has a difficult time adjusting to life after your divorce, don’t hesitate to get them the help they need to find balance in their lives.

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