The kids. They are central to so many decisions around your divorce. And here come the holidays. Should you and your ex spend the holidays together? Will that benefit your kids? There are pros and cons to divorced parents spending the holidays together and considerations should you choose to do so. Can you still be a family after divorce? Let’s take a look.
Put the Kids’ Needs First
Put the kids’ needs first. That can be tricky. You want them to have a “normal” Christmas or Thanksgiving, like the old days. However, the holidays are already emotionally charged, and that can quickly turn into a bad memory if you and your ex start bringing up old issues. Your divorce mediation process may have been smooth, fair and respectful, but there were still real reasons you two split.
Reasons Parents Should NOT Spend the Holidays Together
As you decide how you’re going to spend the holidays this year, consider these reasons for NOT spending them together.
- There are still some hurt feelings. From that, old arguments — even a full on fight — can emerge. Nobody wants that during the holidays.
- It gives kids false hope. They can see you two together again and hope things will get back to “normal.” It may prompt the question, “Are you guys getting back together?” You don’t want to provoke that.
- The risk of ruining precious holidays. Kids grow up so fast, and there are only so many times they get to be a kid for the holidays.
Divorced Holiday Ideas
Likely, the best way to do the holidays may be separately. Whether you choose that or to give a combined holiday a try, here are the typical ways for divorced parents to spend the holidays:
- Double Holidays: Many kids of divorce are happy they get two Christmases or two Thanksgivings. Look to do one at each home.
- Alternate Years: Simple. Mom gets the holidays on even years. Dad gets them on odd years.
- Alternating Holiday: Dad gets Thanksgiving. Mom gets Christmas. Next year, you switch.
- Start Short: If you want to do the holiday together, start small. Work on a short, specified amount of time. However, remember, the separation at the end of the day can be difficult for the kids, so consider that. And check out these apps for co-parenting.
The most important thing to remember is that this is about the kids. Consider their feelings and the memories you’re building for them. It might be better for them that you spend the holidays just like you’ve chosen to spend the rest of your lives — separately. Should you choose to give a combined holiday a try, be very clear with the kids and make it short and, hopefully, sweet.
Holidays are tough on newly divorced parents and kids, and we wish you the best during your holiday season.
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