How to enjoy the holidays when there’s a divorce

How to enjoy the holidays when there’s a divorce

The holidays are just around the corner. For children whose parents are in the process of divorce, this time of year can be difficult. Family traditions they grew up with no longer are the same, which can be very painful. But there are some things parents can do to make this transition easier.


Planning the details of parenting time before the holidays arrive is an important part of reducing stress during the holiday. This includes arrangements of where the children will spend each holiday and making sure they are fully aware of the details of where they will be at all times. When kids don’t know their plans, it can create anxiety for them. And when parents don’t communicate with each other about the plans, arguments can arise. Parents also should inform relatives who are coming to town of the arrangements to prevent any hurt feelings or inaccurate expectations.

Traditions or rituals can be very comforting and help a family manage a transition smoothly. Perhaps Dad always sings a special song when lighting the Chanukah candles, or Mom always creates a special Thanksgiving game. Finding ways to incorporate old traditions with new ones can help make the transition much easier for everyone. Children can come up with great ideas for new traditions, so parents should talk to their children about the traditions they would like to keep and any new things they would like to try.

Tuning into your children’s feelings is yet another way to help manage holiday stress. It is normal for kids to feel a sense of loss. Instead of trying to make everything sound okay, parents should acknowledge the change and talk to the children about their emotions. Kids need to be allowed to have and express their feelings, and parents need to keep an open line of communication with them. This also means parents must make sure the children are comfortable before any new traditions replace an old one.

There are many ways to modify holiday traditions, such as celebrating before or after the holiday or using modern technology so children can share more of their day with both parents. Being open to change is difficult, but a lesson that will benefit both parents and children for years to come.  


Posted in Holiday Survival Guide, Child & Adolescent Services