Keeping Christmas from Becoming a Contest When You Are a Parent of Divorce
If you are a divorced parent with minor children, Christmas can be involve more stress and anxiety than good cheer. Whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent, you can easily get caught up in a sense of competition—who’s giving the children the best gifts? Or the ones they really want? Who’s having the best celebration? It can be hard on you, but rest assured, it can be much harder for your children. Here are some tips to help make the holidays more jolly for everyone.
Communicate about Presents
It’s best to have conversations, generally outside the earshot of your children, about what they need and want for Christmas. Agree upon a spending limit that’s fair to both parties. If there are gifts that your children want, rather than need, try to split those up, so that each parent gets to enjoy giving the child something that makes his or her eyes light up. And no surprises—getting your child a really big ticket item may make you feel good momentarily, and your child may be excited as well, but it will wear off and your child will feel pain for the other parent, and will feel put in the middle.
Talk about Festivities
Share your holiday plans with your ex and see if you can work out a compromise that allows your children to have quality time with both of you. It’s a really great idea to alternate holidays every year…Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years. The earlier you start that practice, the more accepted it will be, and the less disappointment you’ll have from children who have become accustomed to only one way of doing things. Try to minimize travel back and forth, too. You might have the children spend Christmas Eve at one house and stay overnight, but spend the rest of the day with the other parent, once presents are opened in the morning.
Be Willing to Compromise
A little flexibility is a good thing. Be willing to let the deadlines be just a little fuzzy, but keep your ex honest. When you set good boundaries with each other, your children benefit, too.
Be Willing to Spend a Few Minutes Together as a Family
One of the most powerful things you can do during the holidays is to drop your defenses. Stay and have some cookies with your ex and the children when you drop them off. Give your children the opportunity to see you acting like a grownup.
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