Seven Ways to Deal with the Holidays and Divorce

Broken families face a special set of challenges during the holidays. Let us help!

By FamilyTime


Kids love the holidays and why not? Everyone’s expectations are little heightened, lights twinkle brightly in the night, familiar music plays in every store, and wherever you turn, there are good things to eat!


Children from a divorced family are just as excited as any others, but whether the divorce is new or not, they might feel anxious about how their parents and they will manage. As a parent, you want to help your children through this busy season happily and without trauma.


It’s not easy, but here are seven ideas that should help:


  1. Keep the children’s’ visitation schedules as simple as you can. Think of what is best for them, rather than what you want. If they miss seeing an old family friend or cousin, so be it. It’s more important that they shuttle between households with relative ease and spend time with both parents.
  2. Keep holiday celebrations reasonable. Don’t set the bar too high or expectations may be dashed. It might not make sense to drag the children to party after party on the night before they are leaving to see Dad, for instance. They would probably prefer to stay home with you or attend just one party where they know the guests. Keep the pace slow and relaxed. 
  3. Split the children’s gift lists between you and your ex. Rather than both parents vying for who can buy the best and most presents, make sure your children get what they want but are not overloaded with loot.
  4. Keep as many traditions alive as you can, and when you cannot, start new ones. If your children can no longer bake cookies with your ex’s beloved aunt, for example, set an evening aside to bake gingerbread men and women instead. Or do something completely different. Maybe a nighttime walk to admire the neighbors decorations followed by hot chocolate with marshmallows.
  5. Give a small gift to your ex-spouse. Put aside any hostilities and wrap up a book, scarf, or other small token for your children to give to their other parent, from you. Make sure they know it’s given in friendship (you don’t want them getting any ideas!).
  6. Model your behavior so that your kids can look up to you. If you behave cheerfully and admirably, the kids will be less apt to feel upset or be embarrassed.
  7. Be there for your kids. Listen to them and offer support. You cannot dispel their feelings of sadness and confusion during the holidays, but you can give them the one thing they want more than anything else: their parents.

Happy holidays!