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Holidays and divorce: How to avoid conflict

You may have already noticed stores gearing up for the holiday season ahead. Perhaps you're among those who like to get ready as early as possible to avoid the stress and chaos that often accompany last-minute preparations.

If you also happen to be going through a divorce, then no doubt one of your main planning goals this year is to avoid any conflict that may put a damper on family celebrations.

Determine where and with whom to spend your time

One of the first things you can do to prevent divorce discord during holiday festivities is refine your social calendar. Your children most likely want to see both parents at some point during the holiday season. Deciding ahead of time which of the following options best suits your needs can pave the way toward peaceful and joyous times for all:

  • Divide holidays between both parents: By counting all the holidays you want your children to celebrate, then dividing them between yourself and your former spouse, you eliminate potential surprise visits and the stress that can come from not knowing which parent will spend which holiday with the children.
  • Divide hours, not days: If you feel strongly about spending some time with your children on every holiday, then splitting the hours of each event with your co-parent may work better than divvying up the holidays themselves. This way, children get to spend time with each parent on every special occasion.
  • Come together: If your relationship with your former spouse is amicable, you may choose to celebrate holidays together with your children. On the other hand, any type of communication breakdown or negative energy between you suggests this might not be the best option in your particular situation.

The good thing is, so long as there is no existing court order stating otherwise, you are free to arrange your holidays however you like to avoid conflict and promote the overall emotional well-being of all involved.

Increase your chances of a positive outcome

Once you've decided who will spend which holiday where, you'll want to be sure you are proactive in preventing all possible forms of conflict as the season unfolds. You obviously can't control another person's actions; however, the following tips may help you maintain peace-of-mind and enjoy the holidays without worrying about divorce issues:

  • Avoid competition: Don't compare your holiday celebrations to your co-parent's way of doing things. Studies show children fare better when healthy relationships with both parents are maintained after divorce. Be yourself and steer clear of trying to out-do someone else's holiday celebration.
  • Be willing to compromise: Plans change, things happen and legitimate reasons for adjusting schedules arise. Being flexible and keeping your children's best interests at heart allows you to make the most of your time together. Refusing to cooperate and compromise when needed is a sure-fire way to bring holiday cheer to a screeching halt.
  • Stay healthy: Making sure you eat healthy foods, get adequate sleep and get enough physical activity during the day, which helps strengthen both body and mind. You are more apt to better handle any potential stress that arises if you're in good mental and physical condition.

You may not be able to avoid conflict 100 percent of the time when celebrating holidays after a divorce. If a particularly challenging situation arises, it is often best to seek support rather than handle it alone, especially if the circumstances may have potential legal consequences.

Acting alongside appropriate guidance can help you obtain swift and agreeable solutions so that you have more time for building new and happy holiday memories with those you love most.

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