For many parents, the best part of the holiday season is watching their children's eyes light up as they tear into their presents. The shrieks of joy and squeals of delight warm the hearts of parents and family members and often marks the highlight of a holiday celebration.
For newly-divorced parents, however, navigating the first holiday after a split can be a challenge. If you are recently separated or divorced, here are some dos and don'ts that can help you avoid stress and keep your holiday merry and bright.
Planning Gifts for your Children? Do These Things!
Parents have so much influence on how their children enjoy the holiday season. As you plan the family’s holiday celebrations and start the process of buying gifts, keep the following in mind:
- Do help your children have a happy holiday by coordinating with your ex-spouse. Make sure you know when your children will be celebrating with which parent and when they will be opening presents.
- Do talk to your child's other parent ahead of time about gift-giving. By coordinating with the other parent, you can avoid duplicating gifts. You can also make sure you and your former spouse are on the same page about any banned or unwanted gifts.
- Do create your own holiday gift-giving traditions. Your first holiday on your own is an opportunity to make your celebration with your children whatever you want it to be. Talk with them about what they would like to do and receive during your time with them, and do what you can to create holiday magic.
- Do make sure your gift is appropriate for your children's ages and interests. It can be hard for parents to keep up with kids’ developing tastes and changing aptitudes, especially if a parent no longer lives full-time with them. Strike an agreement with your former partner that the two of you will share information about any new interests or developmental milestones.
Things to Avoid While Gift-Giving After a Divorce
Giving someone you love the perfect give can bring you both joy. Avoiding common pitfalls can help newly divorced parents create these moments. For happier and stress-free celebrations with your children this holiday season, try not to do these things:
- Don't smother your child with gifts to make up for the divorce. Some parents feel guilty after a divorce and may want to use presents to make up for the time they can no longer spend with their children. Overwhelming children with gifts or money sends the wrong message and can put unnecessary pressure on the child to favor one parent over the other.
- Don't try to compete with your ex-spouse by spending more money on gifts or outdoing them in other ways. The holidays should be about celebrating your child, not trying to outdo the other parent. Instead, focus your efforts on finding the gifts your child really wants or needs.
- Don't talk badly about the other parent's gift-giving choices. This will only make your child feel caught in the middle and could damage their relationship with the other parent.
- Don't let gift-giving become an emotional minefield. If you’re struggling with feelings of sadness or anger, take some time for yourself before attempting to shop for presents.
- Don't lose sight of the true meaning of the holiday season. The best gift you can give your children is your love and attention. Children of recently separated parents need assurance that both parents still love them and that things will work out. Celebrate your children and the new traditions you will make together.
Holidays After Divorce Can Get Better
The holidays can be a tough time for newly divorced parents, but by following these simple dos and don'ts, you can help make the season bright for you and your children. Though the first holiday after a divorce or separation can be difficult, the holidays will get easier with time. In the meantime, focus on what's important - your children's happiness.
At the Miller Law Firm, we believe that divorcing parents can work together to create a better future for their children after their split. If you are contemplating a divorce or separation, we can help you think through your options.