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Divorce tips for keeping your kids' holidays merry and bright

So you're recently divorced. Or in the midst of a divorce. Or even just considering a divorce. Regardless of the chronological details surrounding the end of your marriage, one thing you likely have in common with other single parents this time of year? Stress over navigating the upcoming holiday season with your children.

Especially if this is your first Thanksgiving as a divorced parent, you may be feeling overwhelmed and uncertain of how best to proceed. The good news is that, with a few adjustments and a small amount of effort on your part, you can work toward making new, happy holiday memories to make your family's festivities just as good as -- if not better than -- ever!

Holiday divorced parenting tips

Since approximately half of all marriages end in divorce, a common -- and crucial -- aspect of parenthood is making sure that interpersonal issues don't negatively affect children. One key to this is often figuring out how to co-parent effectively. No matter how amicable your relationship with your ex may be, co-parenting will still take some degree of effort and compromise. However, if you and your ex-spouse can try to make shared parenting work, the children aren't the only ones who will benefit. Consider the following advice:

  • Always try to put the children first
  • Be clear on the rules
  • Create new traditions

These basic tips may sound like common sense, but when there is a strained relationship between a divorced mother and father, it can be hard for each parent to remain focused on what really matters in the long run -- your children, and everyone can use a reminder from time to time. So how do you put this advice into action?

Always try to put the children first

First and foremost, focus on being there for your children as a family, and remember that your ex will always be your children's parent, too. Make the kids and their happiness the number one priority of any holiday, to make sure they feel loved. While it can be difficult to put your own desires aside, you'll be happier knowing that your children are having a positive experience.

In fact, some couples who are on good terms choose to continue to spend holidays together as a "family" with their children, even after divorce. Of course, not all exes have such an amicable relationship, in which case you'll want to…

Be clear on the rules

When you have a stressed or even a hostile relationship with your ex, it's necessary to plan in detail when each parent will spend time with the children. These arrangements are often established during divorce proceedings, with parents agreeing ahead of time how to divide holidays annually, whether that's holiday mornings with one parent and afternoons with the other, or alternating Thanksgiving with Mom and Christmas with Dad and switching each year. If you do end up having to compromise and miss out celebrating on the actual date, it may help to…

Create new traditions

When you celebrate is less important than how you celebrate. Holidays are more about enjoying each other as a family and less about keeping the same old rituals. Consider using your divorce as an opportunity to ditch some of the tired traditions you might not have liked and make new, fun rituals that you can enjoy creating with your kids. They'll be excited to contribute and eager to celebrate, making the holiday all the more special.

Determining visitation schedules

In the end, the happiness and stability of you and your children is what matters most. Every divorce is different, and you will need to decide what works best for you and your family. If you need help figuring out a holiday visitation schedule during your divorce proceedings, or making sure your child custody determination is ideal, there are professional legal resources available in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area that can help support you and make sure your holidays are as merry and bright as possible.

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