Helping Children of Divorce Through The Holiday Season

February 12th, 2013 posted by D. K. Simoneau

by D. K. Simoneau

What day does Thanksgiving fall on anyway? What about Christmas and New Years? What year is this and who’s got the kids for the holidays? You realize you are going to have to go dig out those divorce papers and see what year it is and if it’s odd or even and if you get to see your children or if you’ll be heading to Grandma’s without your kids in tow.

So what can you do to make split-family living better during the holidays?


Communication is key to everything, and the holidays are no exception. Talk to your kids and ex-spouse. Maybe the every other year thing is too confusing. Maybe your kids are feeling left out. They might even feel guilty that Mom or Dad is alone. See if you can work on a schedule that works better. Some families opt to split the holidays by time, so that a child is with one parent until 2:00 and the other for the remainder of the day. Some opt to split the holidays so that the kids know that every Thanksgiving they will be with Mom and her family for the entire day, but that every Easter or some other holiday they spend it with Dad and his family. That allows traditions to build and nobody has to stop right in the middle of the fun.

Put your differences aside.

Maybe for a day, an hour, but do whatever you can. If you can manage to go to a pumpkin patch and carve pumpkins great. If you can only handle opening gifts all together, so be it. If it means sharing a piece of holiday pie and some eggnog, great! Any amount of time you can spend all together will be the biggest gift you can possibly give to your kids.

Plan Ahead.

Don’t be agreeing to the schedule the night before. Start the holiday schedule planning far ahead of time. Inevitably there will be a child eating back to back turkey if there is no plan, or worse, getting all cold leftovers and feeling left out all the way around!

Be flexible and reasonable, and keep your word.

If you plan to have your child home at 2:00 and it’s 2:15, don’t make a big fuss to your ex-spouse. Things have a way of taking a little longer than expected during the holidays. But don’t purposely ignore the agreed upon schedule. That only sets your child up to be caught in the middle of your frustrations.

Agree on gift giving methods.

Will you each be buying gifts separately or together? Will you coordinate so you don’t both give the same thing? Who will take the children shopping to purchase gifts for each of their parents? How will they be paid for? It is perfectly acceptable to teach your children the art of giving, even if it means you are buying a robe for your ex-wife.

Establish new traditions.

You can incorporate old ones if you wish, but it might be time to start some new ones. Maybe every holiday morning you will serve homemade cinnamon rolls. Maybe you will start a caroling tradition. Maybe birthdays will now always be celebrated by waking up with balloons. It is good to incorporate new so that whatever might be missing from the old might not be as missed.

Let the love shine.

Allow your child to communicate with the missing parent. Maybe it will be a quick telephone call, maybe it will be a quick pick up to walk around the block. In any case, your child is possibly celebrating a holiday without one of the most important people in their life. It’s okay for them to want to share part of it with them.

D. K. Simoneau (2 Posts)

D. K. Simoneau, a divorced mother of two children who lives in Denver, Colorado, has created a wonderful children's book helps children of divorce deal with the frustrations of living in a split family situation and figure out how to cope. D.K. Simoneau's book We're Having A Tuesday is a special gift that celebrates the individuality and uniqueness of the children in divorced families in a gentle and beautiful way. For more information visit

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Cindy Rowe is the owner/editor of Crazylou Creations blog. On the blog, you will find a little bit of crazy, and a whole lot of fun! As a FT working mother, she still finds time to create crafts, play around in the kitchen, plan parties and exercise. You'll find all of this and more on her blog!

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