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The holiday season is a time for family, friends, and loved ones. However, it can also be a time of stress and conflict for divorced or separated parents. If you’re a divorced or separated parent, the tips below can help to give your child the happy and healthy holiday season they deserve. 

A person holding a cell phone and texting.

Discuss your plans for the holidays and how you will divide time with your children. Communicate openly and honestly with your co-parent to avoid conflict. It’s important to be on the same page about which days each parent will have the child and what activities will be taking place.

If possible, try to spend some holiday time with your extended family. This can provide support and tradition for your child during what may be a difficult time for them.

Be flexible with your plans and your schedule. Things will inevitably come up that you didn’t plan for. Allow for some deviation from your plans, but also be firm if needed to make sure you’re able to spend the time together that you and your child deserve. 

A young child standing near a Christmas tree.

Put your child’s needs first 

The holiday season can be especially tough for separated parents, who must juggle their own schedules and emotions while also making sure their children have a happy and memorable holiday. 

During the holiday season, it’s important to put your child’s needs first. Make decisions that are in their best interests, not your own. This may mean making some sacrifices, such as skipping your own holiday events to your child’s school concert.

Try to create new traditions as a family. This can help your children feel that they are still a part of a family unit, even if it looks different from what they’re used to.

Encourage your children to express their feelings about the divorce and the holidays. It’s important to validate their feelings and let them know that it’s okay to feel sad or confused.

Most importantly, even if it’s hard, be respectful of your co-parent and their family. This can be a difficult time for them as well, and it’s important to try to maintain a positive relationship for the sake of your child.

Avoid stress 

The holiday season can be a stressful time for everyone. Do your best to avoid stress and conflict. Take time for yourself and do things that make you happy by scheduling some “me time” to relax and rejuvenate. Stay connected with your friends and loved ones, stay involved with your hobbies, and be kind to yourself. 

If you’re stressed, your child will pick up on it and will subconsciously mirror what you’re feeling. Likewise, if you allow yourself time to keep up a positive attitude and are able to share that with your child, they will pick up on that as well. Caring for yourself will enable you to better care for your child.

Paints and brushes on a table near a painting of flowers.

Seek help if needed 

If you are struggling to co-parent during the holiday season, seek out help from friends, family, or professionals. Support groups for separated parents can give you some much-needed stability and recommendations on what worked for them during the holidays, and a therapist or counselor can help you manage conflict and stress. You’re not alone! Plenty of people are happy to help if you need it. You just have to reach out.

Make the holiday season a time of joy for both you and your child. If you’re in need of support this holiday season, schedule a consultation to develop plans for an amicable separation, the steps to take afterward, and how to best uphold your relationship with your child during and after the holidays.