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Holiday Survival Tips for Divorced Parents: Part 1

Holiday Survival Tips for Divorced Parents

Part I: Holiday Do’s

by Carolyn Woodruff

Holidays are stressful enough without adding the woes of children with parents who live under two roofs. The agony extends to grandparents and extended families who want time with precious children. Woodruff Family Law Group through its experience in dealing with families in holiday distress has developed survival tips of do’s and don’ts for parents living under two roofs. This blog is in two parts, one for do’s and one for don’ts.


  1. Do make the holiday about the children. Get the holiday spirit of giving; this is not the time for revenge.
  2. Do work out a schedule the kids can anticipate, but then be flexible. I suggest a very definite plan for definite times and places for exchange. That being said, be flexible according to the needs of the child, but put the “flexible arrangement deviation” in writing to the other parent.
  3. Do establish a new tradition for your “new family.” The family today takes many forms, and this new family deserves its own.  The new tradition could involve creating together a new food item or always attending a particular tree lighting.  The possibilities are endless. Take lots of pictures and video. Make the memories special. Preserve the memories. It is a special time that will never happen again. It is one moment in time.
  4. Do consider grandparents and extended family and the time the children need to establish and continue these vital relationships.
  5. Santa can come on more than one night and to more than one house. My husband and I wrote the children’s book, The Seven Nights of Santa. This children’s book is an excellent read and explains to families of all forms how to have Santa come to your house up to seven nights. Santa can come to the children with dad on one night and mom on another night.
  6. Do give consideration to the kids pet at the holiday. Can the pet go with the kids? Pets and children of divorce are bonded, and the holiday is not the time to break this bond.
  7. Do coordinate gift giving with the other parent if possible to avoid duplicate gifts. Little Johnny doesn’t need two iPads, one from mom and one from dad.
  8. Do let the gifts go between the two homes. The gift belongs to the child, once it is given, right?
  9. Do plan and coordinate holiday activities from the kid’s point of view. You don’t need both mom’s household and dad’s household taking little Jane to Holiday on Ice or Mutt-Cracker by Greensboro Ballet. Ask your child for suggestions. While you as the parent are in charge, reasonable accommodations to the child’s desires for activities should be accommodated. While football on television is great, if six-year-old Sierra likes to dance and Frozen, she might not be so interested in hours of football.
  10. Do take the kids to do something to give back. Take a gift to a charity; ring the Salvation Army kettle with your child.


Holiday Survival Tips for Divorced Parents

Part 1 | Part 2