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Dealing with the impact of divorce is never easy but coping with the end of a marriage during the holidays can add overwhelming and unexpected feelings of loss, sadness, betrayal and anger for all family members.

Even couples who have been divorced for some time can struggle with planning holiday events and celebrations when children are involved. Making thoughtful decisions during what was always a mostly joyful time can be challenging.

Make a holiday wish list of your priorities

Despite the emotional toll divorce can take during the holidays, there are ways to keep things in perspective and still experience joy, including:

  • Do what’s best for your children: Don’t punish your former spouse by refusing to let them spend time with your kids during the holidays. Put aside those negative feelings and develop a support group to keep you on track.
  • Plan with your ex: Create a clear schedule with your former spouse on where the kids will spend holidays as well as the days surrounding them and agree on pickup times and locations.
  • Prepare your kids: Communicate your plan to your children as studies show they will be better off emotionally if they know what to expect. Encourage them to have fun when they are with your former partner.
  • Don’t dig too deep for information: Once they’ve returned home, welcome them with open arms but avoid asking too many questions about their time away. Let them fill in the details and listen rather than offer any judgments. Only ask about the other parent if you are supportive and positive.

Establish new traditions in your new life

The loss of family closeness during a divorce is painful for everyone, especially during holidays, when families spent so much meaningful time together in the past. That loss is felt even for someone who understands that divorce or separation from their partner is the best decision for their future. Above all, be patient and communicate with your loved ones and work to develop new traditions for many happy times to come.