Children, Divorce and the Holidays

One of the most painful parts of a divorce is losing time with one’s children.  Until the divorce, the family has spent most of their time in one home, and the thought of not being with your children for all of the holidays has probably not even come up.  However, after a divorce, the parents are living in separate households, and sharing holidays with the children must be discussed.

As you discuss the holidays, remember to remain as objective as possible and to put your children’s interests first.  For example, if they enjoy visiting their grandparents every Christmas Day, work around this so that they do not have to miss out because their parents got divorced.  Although it will be difficult, it simply may not be possible to see your children each holiday of each year.  Remember that the celebration itself is more important than the date you are together. Sometimes this is an opportunity to be creative and Thanksgiving is celebrated Friday night with one parent and Thursday with the other.  Flexibility is the key component.

Many parents compromise by alternating holidays, especially if they live in different cities.  For example, one parent may have odd years, and the other parent may have even years.  One major benefit of such an arrangement is that the entire family knows the schedule years in advance, which makes holiday planning easier.

Another way parents share holidays is by discussing which holidays are most important to them.  For example, it makes sense for the children to be with their mother on Mother’s Day and with their father on Father’s Day.  If one side of the family has a big family reunion every Fourth of July, then perhaps that parent would prefer visitation that weekend.  Learning to compromise will make creating a schedule a more peaceful undertaking.

You and your spouse should also discuss the sharing of any travel expenses for your children.  For example, will they be shared, or will the parent hosting the holiday be responsible?