An abundance of challenges and complications arise for parents after going through a divorce. However, those hurdles get even higher during the holidays. Figuring out schedules and dealing with commitments and family traditions causes even more stress.

Both parents can ease that strain by putting aside their negative feelings for one another and making decisions based on what’s best for their children. That means allowing them to spend time with family members on both sides.

Common issues divorced parents face

Holiday stress can often lead to increased conflict between former spouses. But they can head off some of those emotions by thinking about these issues in advance:

  • Grief and loss: The first holidays after a divorce can be the toughest as parents are figuring out a new path for themselves and their kids. The loss of some traditions and making new ones will affect everyone differently. Remember that both sides are experiencing this and make an effort to remain civil.
  • Holiday decisions: Psychologists say equity is essential for children of divorce. Work out a fair arrangement for them to spend time with each parent. If finances are an issue, set spending limits on gift-giving, so one parent doesn’t try to “out-do” the other. Parents should use this time to communicate more effectively about the best interests of their kids.
  • Dealing with change: Talk to your children about holiday traditions that are important to them and how or if they can be retained, with or without the other parent. Change is difficult for everyone, but parents should not get sidetracked sticking to established traditions rather than just creating a time that brings joy to their kids.
  • Being together: Children are happier when both parents spend time with them during the holidays. However, divorced spouses must make sure there are no underlying tensions or anger that could derail their kids’ joy. They also need to take into account any tension from extended family members and avoid giving their children false hope that this means they are getting back together.

Holiday co-parenting requires planning and patience

The holiday season brings added stress for divorced parents, which can be harmful to their children if they don’t communicate and develop a clear plan and cooperate for the benefit of their kids. It’s a difficult period whether you are going through it for the first or fifth time but thinking ahead and cooperating with your former spouse can help lead to a drama-free holiday for everyone.