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Three crucial tips for the holidays

The holidays can be a wonderful, terrible, angst-filled time. These emotions and frustrations can be compounded for children of divorce. Unfortunately, even with all of the built-in stress of the holidays, divorced parents can unintentionally add unnecessary stress on top.

The holiday season can be packed with travel plans, shopping, family visits, office parties and neighborhood get-togethers. Lost in all of this is your agreed-upon parenting plan. Many attorneys will guide divorcing couples through the process of developing a comprehensive parenting plan that accounts for holidays. Even so, parents can lose sight of their child's needs during this hectic time. 

Here are three important factors to consider:

  • Be aware of school vacation: While the dates and durations might change in the years following a divorce, your child will likely have several days - or even a full week - off over the course of the holidays. It is critical that you are aware of these dates and discuss how to handle them with the other parent. Even if you have the traditional weekend/weekday time split, it might be wise to divide these days differently when your child is off school.
  • Build new traditions: It can be helpful to develop new traditions that account for the new division of parenting time. For instance, many families will gather around and open gifts on Christmas morning. With two families, however, this will be impossible. Would it be better for one parent to be able to open gifts on Christmas Eve, and the other parent would have Christmas Day?
  • Be flexible: If you cannot come to an agreement regarding different celebration days with your ex-spouse, at least try to accommodate each other on the same day. Perhaps one family can open gifts on Christmas morning, and the other family can celebrate in the early afternoon.

While relationships are likely contentious, it is important to remember that your child is caught in the middle. This is never more apparent than in a poorly-handled holiday season. Take a moment to consider the impact that your actions will have on those you love.

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