How Can I Get My Family Through the Holidays As a Divorced Co-Parent?


Navigating the holidays can be a challenge for anyone, and may be especially hard as a newly divorced parent who is also co-parenting. As you establish new traditions and form updated expectations, here are some ways to keep your family together and happy during this transition.

  • Focus on the Children. This is the clear priority, of course, so when in doubt–or frustration–about any details or arrangements, think “what would be best for the kids?” and see if that can help solve the problem, whether it be an extra night at dad’s or spending one more day at mom’s.
  • Follow the Parenting Plan. Reference the parenting plan as you schedule your holidays. It can be an objective starting point for the best interests of your children, dispelling any confusion, and setting out what an unbiased, balanced holiday would look like for your kids.
  • Divide the Holidays. Take into consideration what is most important to both sides of your families and do what you can to accommodate the preferences of both in turn in order to give your kids the best.
  • Plan in Advance. Make plans early on and be specific about who will be where and when, down to drop off/pick up times and more. You can cut out the potential for problems by discussing the details well ahead of time.
  • Be Respectful of Time. Especially with all the festivities and events crammed into a few short weeks, time will often be of the essence. Try not to be late for transfers or talk at length on the phone to your kids during the other parent’s time, respecting it as important for their relationship.
  • Stay Calm. It may be years after the divorce–if ever–before you are able to be emotionally rational around your ex-spouse, but it is more critical than ever that around the holidays that you try.
  • Don’t Try to ‘Win’. It’s tempting for parents to overcompensate for splitting the family up by buying more presents than usual or otherwise ‘making it up’ to their children. Coordinating your gift giving with your ex will keep you from trying to ‘buy’ your kids, keep your spending reasonable, and maintain normal gift-giving practices.
  • Start New Traditions. Is there an activity that you love but it has never appealed to your ex? Introduce it to your kids this year as something special that you want to share with them, a new holiday tradition to enjoy and look forward to.
  • Consider Sharing Time. While the holidays will never look like they used to, if you and your spouse can stand to spend any time together, offer to spend an evening all together. Resume one tradition, such as ice skating or driving to see Christmas lights, to give your kids time when they won’t feel torn between the two people they love most.

The holidays can be a trying time following any big change, and divorce is often one of the greatest upsets your children will face in their young years. Working pleasantly with your ex is one of the greatest things you can do to smooth the impact of this transition and to help your kids feel assured that they are still what is most important, and that nothing will ever change that.

Have questions about or need assistance with your divorce decree? Consult with the Simon Law Group about any major changes or requests you need to make.