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How Do We Handle The Holidays During Our Divorce?

handling the holidays and divorce

Holidays mean spending time with family. While divorce can certainly add complexity, it needn’t interfere with the special joy the holiday season brings. Whether you have young children or adult kids, successfully navigating the holidays post-divorce requires careful attention and consideration.

  1. Prioritize Your Children’s Well-being: If you are concerned about how the holidays will feel, you can be sure that your children are thinking about it as well. They may feel guilty about spending the holidays with only one of their parents. If you are the “away” parent, make sure they know you are happy and safe and that you support them spending the time with their other parent. Or if they will be spending time with both parents together, children might be concerned about potential conflicts arising. Don’t let them. Maintain a respectful tone, choose your words carefully, and conduct yourselves in a manner that puts your children at ease. Your children’s comfort should be the top priority during the holidays.
  2. Preserve Traditions When Possible: Traditions can play a vital role in creating a sense of normalcy for your children. Where it’s feasible and enjoyable for all parties involved, try to maintain the traditions you’ve always had, like visiting grandma’s house or other family rituals. But be aware that some traditions may not work as well anymore and let them go gracefully. 
  3. Create New Traditions: Embrace the opportunity to establish new traditions. Accept the changes and create fresh, meaningful traditions that can be carried forward in the years to come. This shift can be positive and liberating for you and your children.
  4. Collaborative Planning: If you’re going through a collaborative divorce or mediation, take advantage of the resources available. Collaborative processes involve family specialists who can help you plan the holidays effectively. They can assist you in deciding how best to approach the time spent together and how to communicate with your children about the changes.
  5. Early Communication with Your Children: Children look forward to the holidays and are aware that things will be different post-divorce. Communicate with them early about the plans for the holidays. By doing so, you model open communication and give your children permission to express their feelings and concerns. This can alleviate much of their anxiety and uncertainty.

Handling the holidays during and after divorce requires a delicate balance of preserving old traditions and embracing change, while always prioritizing your children’s well-being. Collaborative processes can be particularly helpful in planning a smooth holiday season. Most importantly, open communication with your children ensures they understand what to expect and provides them with the comfort of knowing that, despite the changes, the holidays can still be a special and joyful time for everyone involved. Remember, the holidays are about creating lasting memories and fostering love and connection, even in the face of divorce.

Ivan Alter is an experienced Westchester County mediator.  For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 914-861-2400 or visit Our office is located at 118 N. Bedford Rd. Suite 100 Mt. Kisco, NY 10549

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