Holiday Tips for Separated or Divorced Parents from the Editors of Divorce Magazine

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Co-parenting after separation and divorce can be stressful and awkward, and rarely more so than during the holidays. For recently separated or divorced parents, the holidays will be different this year; here are a few tips from the editors of Divorce Magazine to help them make the best of their new situation.

Holiday Tips for Divorced Parents

The holidays will be different after separation and divorce – not better or worse, just different.

Don’t bad-mouth your ex-spouse; you don’t want your children to feel guilty or conflicted about spending holiday time at your ex’s house. The best gift you can give your children this holiday season is the gift of peace.

Co-parenting after separation and divorce can be stressful and awkward, and rarely more so than during the Hanukkah and Christmas holidays. That’s when tension or conflict between ex-spouses threatens to undo their children’s expectations of fun and a loving environment. Divorce Magazine and, which have provided divorce information and resources for more than 18 years, understand this – and have tips on how to make things easier for divorced parents and their children during the holidays.

“No divorcing person needs to be told how important their children are,” says Dan Couvrette, the publisher and CEO of Divorce Magazine and “But every divorcing person needs to be reminded of how their words and actions can negatively or positively affect their children.”

Both parents and children may be worried about how this holiday season will “work.” They probably have a lot of questions right now, including:

  • Which parent will have access to the children, and when?
  • Are the children afraid of being “disloyal” if they have fun at the other parent's home?
  • Will the parents allow their bitterness or competition to infect the holiday spirit?
  • Will the children miss one parent when they are with the other?

The holidays will be different than they were when everyone was living together in the same home – not better or worse, just different. Here are a few tips to help parents coping with separation and divorce make the best of their new situation:

  • Plan ahead. Having a secure schedule in place for when the children will be with each parent will ease their anxiety and help any transitions between households go more smoothly.
  • Be flexible. If the agreement calls for the children to be with the other parent on December 25, celebrate with them on the 24th or 26th. Few children will be unhappy about having two days to open presents instead of one.
  • Resolve to have the best holiday possible. Invite family and friends over, play games, watch holiday-themed movies, eat, drink, and be merry. Show the children that whatever has happened to the family, they are loved and cherished. Create a conflict-free zone around the kids and stick to it – no matter what.
  • Don’t bad-mouth the other parent. Parental alienation is always bad, and the children shouldn't feel guilty or conflicted about spending holiday time at the other parent's house. The best gift to give your children this holiday season is the gift of peace between their parents.
  • Be civil – even kind if possible – to the ex-spouse. Let him/her have their quality time with the children, and don’t argue about it or interfere. Unless they are dangerous or abusive, they have a right to spend time with their children. Also, a little generosity now can pay big dividends in the future when asking for a favor.
  • Give children permission to express their true feelings. They may be very sad that their parents can’t both be there to celebrate with them. Let them know it’s okay to feel that way, and reassure them that they won’t feel sad forever. Don’t pressure them to act happy if they don’t honestly feel it.
  • Eat, drink (in moderation), and be merry. Especially if the divorce is recent, or if there has been a lot of conflict, parents should watch their alcohol consumption.Getting into a drunken screaming match in front of the kids, or saying something that will permanently damage their ability to co-parent will not create good memories for the children.
  • Take care of body and spirit. Make sure to eat healthy foods as well as holiday treats, get enough rest, and exercise every day. Following a healthy self-care regimen will help to elevate mood, give more patience with the kids (and the ex), and can help to make the holidays enjoyable rather than something to be endured. Reach out to close friends or family members: asking for help is a sign of intelligence and strength – not weakness.

Divorce Magazine wants to know how people coping with separation and divorce plan to cope with the holidays this year. Please take a minute to vote in the Online Poll:


Published since 1996, Divorce Magazine is North America’s only magazine devoted entirely to divorce-related issues. The magazine helps divorcing individuals and families through the process in the most economical and least traumatic way possible. It offers practical help and information about divorce-related issues – from child support to visitation, mediation to litigation, divorce recovery to dating after divorce. For more articles about parenting during and after divorce, go to

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Dan Couvrette
Divorce Magazine
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