ParentAndChildChristmas.jpgIn our last post, we discussed parental alienation syndrome and the importance of children having both parents in their lives. Right now, the holiday season is upon us and Christmas is a short nine days away. The holidays can be a very stressful time for divorced parents.

Many of us can look back fondly on our childhood memories of the holidays, but for children of divorce their memories can be quite different if parents fight. Thankfully, Dr. Mary Anne LoFrumento, the author of the "Simply Parenting" series has some tips to help divorced parents give their children the most joyous holidays possible. We would like to share the Doctor's tips with you to keep in mind when planning for the holidays.

Putting the Children First
This time of year, it is especially important to put the needs of the children first. Bad holiday memories often come from fights between the parents over scheduling, gifts, or sharing time. If arguments arise between you and your ex-spouse, do your best to keep the kids out of it.

Show Unity
Children are very observant and they know when their parents are fighting. It is important for both parents to keep a positive attitude about the holidays and that it is still a special time of the year even if not everyone is together. It is a great gesture to help younger children pick or make a gift for the other parent.
Often, the divorce decree or agreement will detail what days the children spend with which parent. It is important to stick to this schedule, but if there is no schedule, it is important to plan ahead in detail.
Try to avoid splitting days between parents. Splitting days does not allow children to fully enjoy the time they spend with one parent if they are constantly worried about leaving. If families live near each other, make sure that the kids get to spend at least one full day with each parent. When families live too far apart to visit both sides, some parents will alternate years.

It is important to communicate your plans to the children and explain to them what is going on. Some children will feel guilty about leaving a parent behind. In those situations, letting the child know what you will be doing while he or she is gone will often help with that guilty feeling.

Sticking to your holiday plans and dropping of and picking up the kids on time is a top priority, except in cases of emergency.

Keeping in Touch
If you cannot be with a child on a holiday, planning for a phone call in the morning is a great way to make the child feel special, and this will help the child feel better about being away.

Avoid Gift Contests
Some parents will engage in competitive gift giving and try to give bigger and more expensive gifts than the other parent. In addition to coordinating schedules, coordinating and discussing gifts is a good way for divorced parents to avoid competition.

Source:, "Keeping the 'joy' in the holiday season for families of divorce," Connie Colla, 12/15/2010