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3 tips for divorced parents this holiday season

With many big box stores breaking out the holiday decorations, it is safe to say it is officially the holiday season. Just thinking about all the shopping, planning and expectations can send any parent into a panic. However, for those who recently went through a divorce, the thought of the holiday season can be overwhelming.

Will the kids be with mom or dad? What about extended family? Do you need to have two Thanksgiving dinners? What about family traditions? These are just some of the many questions and concerns that commonly come to mind.

In this post, we are going to focus on a few tips for co-parenting this holiday season. 

Tip 1: Listen to your child’s concerns

Whether the kids are with you or with their other parent, it is normal for your children to have concerns about how the holiday is going to go, especially if this is their first time splitting up holidays between their parents.

Psychologist Deanna Conklin-Danao says you should not necessarily try to force your children into thinking only about the positives. All too often parents want to spin everything onto the bright side – two homes for Christmas, two parents who love them, and comments like this – are what many parents want to focus on. And while these points are true, only focusing on the positive can make your children feel like you are not listening to them.

So rather than just trying to spin it all for the positive, make sure your children understand that you hear their concerns. Just the simple fact that they know you hear them can make them feel more comfortable as they navigate the holiday season with two parents who no longer live together.

Tip 2: Keep old traditions and start some new

Did you always each take a turn going around the table and saying what you were thankful for on Thanksgiving? Or what about baking certain cookies or cooking a portion of the meal together? Maybe there is a story you all read as a family? If you did any of these things, there is no reason to stop the tradition now. Rather, keep it up. This shows the kids that many things are still the same, even if there have been big changes throughout the year.

Along these same lines though, while you should keep traditions, this year can also be a time where you and the kids start new traditions together. Being able to take control – and help create a new tradition – can give the kids a sense of a control. Having this sense of control can be very beneficial, especially since divorce is so outside of their control.

Tip 3: Maintain the sense of family

Even though you are no longer married – and you most likely will not be seeing your ex in-laws for the holidays – your children may still be seeing them. While your ex mother-in-law may not be your favorite person, or you are secretly happy you no longer have to see your ex’s cousin, remember these are all still family to your child. If you know they are coming back from spending Thanksgiving with their grandmother, for example, make sure to ask your child how grandma is doing and what everyone did for the big meal.

In the end, while the holidays may be hard to navigate – especially in the beginning – know that you are not alone and that you and your children will adjust to the new normal as time goes on. 

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