Divorce and the Holidays

Newly divorced? It’s not too early to start planning for the holidays now.

chalk drawing of parents pulling at a child during custody dispute

The kids are either back in school or heading that way, everyone is busy making Labor Day plans and before you know it, the Christmas decorations will be going up. If this is your first holiday season as a divorced parent here are a few tips to help make it as smooth and as festive as possible.

First, even though it may seem premature to begin making plans, it’s never too soon to start adjusting expectations and creating new traditions.

The younger children in particular can have trouble adjusting to the transition of separate homes during the holidays. If there is not too much conflict between you and your spouse you may want to consider celebrating the holidays together, at least for this year. Obviously, it’s not an ideal solution for the long-term, especially if either spouse remarries.

And it should be with the understanding that daddy and mommy are not getting back together.

Secondly, reach an agreement with your ex about gifts and a spending limit. This shouldn’t turn into an escalating competition. Considering the recent expenditure for the divorce, money is probably tight anyway. Be realistic about what you can reasonable afford as to not make an already stressful time more stressful.
Next, use this time to start new holiday traditions. Even something as basic as watching a Holiday classic by a fire can become a valued tradition. You will be surprised by what your children look forward to and what they remember. Think of this time as a transition period and use new traditions to help path the road for the years to come.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with keeping to old traditions as well. Maybe not all will work but there is something to be said about habits and rituals for giving children a sense of safety and predictability. Use the holidays as an added chance to reinforce that even though daddy and mommy are no any longer together, the children are still loved to the moon and back.

Finally, remember, the kids may not be the only ones having trouble adjusting. You or your spouse may be feeling lonely during the first holiday season as well. Always try and maintain a civil relationship and even more so during this time. Giving your ex a few extra hours with the kids may pay off for you down the road.

Even under ideal circumstances holidays can be stressful. Adding “newly-divorced” into the mix only compounds that stress. Work on keeping the season as simple as possible and adjust your expectations.

Do you need to talk to a lawyer about questions regarding child custody or child support law? Do you need legal help regarding a paternity dispute, marital property division or alternative forms of family law dispute resolution? Contact PJ Hartman.