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Holiday Traditions and Common Sense Practical Tips for Maneuvering the Holidays After Divorce


Handling the holidays after a divorce can be extremely stressful for both the parents and the children. It’s not too soon to start considering how to handle the upcoming holidays. Below are a series of practical tips that can assist you and your children in making a transition to the new ways your family will celebrate holidays.

First steps to happy holidays

As a preliminary matter, parents should dig out their divorce decrees and review the language of the decree regarding holidays. Identify who has parenting time during each holiday, and to what extent. Some divorce decrees split the day of a holiday, others assign parenting time for the entire day. The start of the “day” and the end of the “day” should be clearly identified.

It’s possible that upon review of the parenting time schedule, you will be less than pleased with what was ordered, or you agreed to. The key to happy holidays is accepting the court order. You probably don’t have the time to change the court order, nor do you likely have a basis to do so. Accept your terms and do your best to approach the holidays determined to create happy new memories about the holidays for your children. Once the legal parameters have been confirmed, holiday planning can begin.

Talk to your child about traditions

Some families are able to celebrate holidays together, much as they did before the divorce. Most families, however, do not choose this path. Speak to your children about the upcoming holiday. In a group discussion, identify which traditions are important to your new familial unit, and which traditions, if any, you’d rather not continue. Ask your children to consider new traditions. This is not a one time conversation. Rather, it should be an ongoing conversation as holidays approach. It can also be discussed post holidays – what worked and what didn’t?

Let go of preconceived notions

There is nothing magical to the child about any given date on a calendar. If you are not the parent with custody on a holiday, that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate it. Celebrate on a different day without grumbling. Your child did not pick to be the child of divorced parents. Regardless of how you behave, you will be creating holiday memories for your child.

Model behavior

In a manner that is age appropriate, assist your child in selecting a gift for their other parent. Let your child know that you expect them to love and respect both of their parents. This can be difficult to do if the other parent doesn’t engage in respectful conduct. Recall that you are responsible for your behavior. Recall also that you are teaching your child, regardless of how you behave.

Be kind to yourself

Advance planning will go a long way towards having a safe and happy holiday season for all parties.

Contact a Trusted Family Law Attorney for Help

Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. is an experienced attorney in Fort Lauderdale, with a practice that includes child custody and time sharing agreements, and other areas of family law. Contact us today for help.



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