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Children And Divorce: Keeping the Holiday CheerChestnuts roasting on an open fire, and all that jazz. In post-divorce life, the holidays can seem like nothing more than a cruel joke, especially for families who have recently gone through a divorce. Even if your divorce wasn’t too nasty or filled with resentment, the holidays throw every recent divorcee for a loop. When the autumn leaves begin to fall, you start wondering who’ll rake the leaves now; who’ll put up the Halloween decorations? Who will eat where on Thanksgiving? And for goodness sakes, who will keep the magic of Santa alive? So many questions! But before that panic attack begins just take a deep breath and start with these post-divorce holiday guidelines.

The Great Peace Treaty of 2012

Just like when warring nations sat down and signed a peace treaty, you and your ex will have to sit down and figure this out. But while the nations’ leaders discussed land boundaries and foreign policy, you and your ex will discuss which parent the children will spend which holiday with. There is no one schedule template to be found on the internet, or a legal document that tells you how to resolve these matters, because each family is different. You and your ex will just have to figure out what works for your family; and if your children are old enough to understand the dilemma, maybe see if they have a preference. But above all, make sure there is no pressure on the children to decide.

Christmas is Not a Bidding War

Divorce is tricky territory enough for children without having to worry about stumbling into an ambush. The comedic material about parents battling it out in the toy stores for their children’s favor may seem the norm, but don’t follow suit. The battle over the biggest present could easily become a point of exploitation for your children, or could even slowly cultivate a greedy streak in your children. You may be insecure and unsure after your divorce, but so are your children. Make the holidays about spending time with them, not how much you’re spending on them.

The More the Merrier

What is most important during the holidays is that your children feel secure within the family and loved by the family. The best way to make the transition from united family to divorced family is to make sure the children see the usual suspects during the holidays. This means your extended family and friends, and your ex’s. By providing this kind of consistency, the children will realize that divorce doesn’t mean their family will desert or stop loving them. But a bit of warning about reintroducing the entire gang after a divorce: Your ex and the divorce are bound to spring up in conversation, which is no problem, except when derogatory statements are made. It would be best to talk with your family and friends beforehand to discourage any harsh or demeaning comments about the ex in front of the children.

The holidays are a time for unadulterated cheer and giddiness, so don’t be the Grinch who stole your children’s Christmas. The best solution for you and the children is to have a plan before the merry chaos begins, so don’t put off the holiday scheduling with your ex. Also, the holidays are not a time to get a leg up on your ex by buying off the children with extra sweets and presents. And above all, never break the cardinal divorced-with-children rule: Never verbally abuse your ex in front of your children. Just remember, Santa will always found out who’s naughty or nice.

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