Tips to get through the holidays during a divorce

If this is your first holiday season as a separated or divorced parent, you may be dreading the festivities. That is understandable, but parents must still remain responsive to their children's needs even at difficult times.

Below are some tips to employ if your holidays seem less than jolly.

Exercise patience

Hearing the kids sing yet another round of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" may make you want to run down the street screaming and rending your garments. But it's not the kids' fault that your mood is in the basement. Take a deep breath, find your inner reserve of fortitude and plaster on a smile.

Be flexible

This year's celebrations may need to be bifurcated between the parents. In the case of extended family members, it could mean that there will be even more holiday gatherings for the kids to attend. Don't fixate on the dates of these celebrations. Younger kids aren't likely to realize if the family dinner falls on a different date, and most older kids won't care as long as presents and goodies are involved.

Establish new traditions

When parents split up, there may be some holiday rituals that have to be shelved. Rather than focusing on what used to be, concentrate instead on forging new holiday traditions and memories.

Forgive yourself for not being perfect

Guilt over failing to produce a picture-perfect holiday can spoil it for everyone. Maybe you got stuck with a true "Charlie Brown Christmas tree" this year because they ran out early. Or perhaps divorce expenses cut into your holiday budget too deeply to buy the kids everything on their lists.

It's okay to fall short of the mark and others' expectations. You can still find the magic in the season and make sure that your children have an enjoyable family holiday.

Now is also a good time to make note of what worked and what didn't with your holiday custody arrangements. You and your family law attorney may need to tweak the parenting agreement to better address your children's needs.

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