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How to get your children through the holidays during a separation and divorce.

The holidays are often stressful.  Managing a separation or divorce during the holidays is difficult for both parents and children. Parents often feel overwhelmed as they try and maintain the status quo for the children, when in fact things are no longer how they once were.  There is no longer a nuclear household, but a bi-nuclear one.

Here are some tips on how to help your children through the holidays during a separation and divorce:

  1. It is important that parents plan for the holidays. Determine how time with the children will be divided during the holidays ahead of time. Be flexible and consider important details like defining when the holiday period begins and ends, where exchanges will occur and the times for exchanges. This will reduce tension and provide the children with an easier transition.
  2. Try and keep some of the same routines during the holidays but talk to your children about creating new rituals and family traditions as well. Assuring your children that the celebrations will continue but just in a different way can help put them at ease.
  3. Separated and divorced parents should encourage their children to enjoy themselves with the other parent and their extended family during the holidays.
  4. If possible, collaborate with your estranged spouse with respect to presents in order to avoid competition between the two of you. The holidays are not a time to outshine or undermine the other parent.
  5. Be mindful and thoughtful. Separations and divorces can bring out the worst in people and coincidentally so can the holidays. It is in the children’s best interests to see their parents getting along. Simple gestures such as encouraging and helping your children to buy or make a gift for the other parent will help the children realize that they do not have to pick a side during the holidays.