5 Tips to Avoid Stress due to Divorce, Custody and the Holidays

Kellam T. Parks
Managing Member of Parks Zeigler, PLLC

The Holiday season is here and it can be a tough time for divorced couples with children.  We wanted to share some helpful tips gathered from our years of experience representing divorced couples, as well as having direct experience with the issue (Deb sharing her personal experience):

  1. Plan ahead – If you do not have a written order, decide well in advance which parent gets which holiday, or perhaps one parent has child(ren) for dinner and the other has child(ren) for dessert. This ensures all the cousins and relatives get some time with the children too. There are many days to celebrate and they can be switched off each year.
  2. Create new traditions –Your children can then associate those traditions with fond memories of time spent with you. For example, if you celebrate Christmas but do not have your children waking up in your home the morning of, make Christmas Eve a special time for driving around the neighborhood looking at lights with mugs of cocoa, play board games, baking that last batch of something good. Tell your children about traditions your family had growing up and stories you heard from your grandparents. Be creative.
  3. Keep in Touch – If it’s not your holiday with your child(ren), you can still be part of that day.  Make the phone call, even if it is just two minutes of “I love you- have fun today.” Make sure they know you are thinking of them on special days. They will remember these moments as they grow up.
  4. Don’t go overboard – If you can, try to coordinate gifts with the other parent. You can avoid duplicates and you also need to resist any urge to upstage one another with extravagant presents. This is not about you, this is about the child(ren) you have in common and the reasonable spoiling of the child(ren) you both love.
  5. Be merry – The holidays can be stressful for everyone. Make sure you stay positive around your child(ren). Play music and sing along, watch funny holiday movies. With a little patience and cheer, you can focus on what is really important during the season.

Even the most bitterly divorced couple can find common ground for the good of their children so that they can truly enjoy this time of year and have a break from their parents' issues. And if that means you do not verbally speak to each other to remain merry – just text or email.  Life is sometimes hard, but the holidays are a time when both parents should try harder to maintain civility and work together for their children's best interests.

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