How Divorced Parents Can Create Joyful Holidays with Young Kids


The holiday season can be a challenging time for anyone, but it becomes even more daunting when you have recently split up with your spouse or partner. As a co-parent, the desire to create joyful and stress-free celebrations for your children might seem overwhelming. However, by focusing on modeling healthier and happier relationships, you can help your kids cope with the aftermath of the break-up and ensure their well-being.

The Impact of Divorce on Children

Extensive research on the impact of divorce on children consistently reveals that divorce itself is not what harms kids the most. On the contrary, children can thrive post-divorce, especially when both parents model healthy relationships. What can be genuinely damaging to children is when ex-couples engage in continuous conflict without resolving their issues constructively or when they involve their children in the midst of their disagreements. The key to helping children cope after a break-up lies in peaceful co-parenting.

Respect Your Child’s Privacy

Avoid probing your child about what happens at the other parent’s home. Instead, show genuine interest in what your child tells you spontaneously. Respect their boundaries and let them share on their terms. As a parent, you can control the positive and nurturing environment you provide at your home, which will greatly benefit your children.

Be Flexible with Holiday Plans

Rather than fighting over specific holidays, consider being more flexible with the schedule. If your ex-partner requests to have Christmas Eve this year, consider accommodating their wish. By being accommodating, you can build trust and goodwill, especially if your relationship had been strained during the break-up. You can celebrate holidays on different days, creating your own unique and enjoyable family traditions.

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Maintain Holiday Routines

Stability and predictability are crucial for children during the holiday season. Whenever possible, try to retain holiday routines and traditions, even if they need to be adjusted due to the split. This familiarity can help your kids feel safe, secure, and loved during what might otherwise be a chaotic time.

Ensure Quality Time with Both Parents

Children will naturally want to spend time with both parents during the holidays. Encourage and facilitate their time with the other parent, regardless of custodial rights or efforts made. Children shouldn’t feel pressured to choose sides or compartmentalize their emotions. Both parents should make an effort to be involved in their lives and give them the freedom to be themselves.

Keep the Focus on Cooperation

During the holiday season, it’s common to want to spoil the children with extravagant gifts and treats. However, cooperation between parents is more valuable than competition. Coordinate gift-giving to ensure a balanced experience for the children, emphasizing the spirit of unity and love rather than material possessions.

Prioritize Self-Care

Taking care of your own well-being is paramount, especially during the holidays. Remember the importance of putting on your own oxygen mask first. Nurture your mental health to be fully present for your children. When you take care of yourself, you can better support and care for your children during this emotionally charged time of the year.


Navigating the holidays after a break-up can be challenging, but it is essential to focus on co-parenting peacefully and modeling healthy relationships for the sake of your children’s well-being. By respecting your child’s privacy, being flexible with holiday plans, maintaining routines, ensuring quality time with both parents, prioritizing cooperation over competition, and practicing self-care, you can create a joyful and supportive environment for your children during the holiday season.

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1. Is it okay to ask my child about their time with the other parent?

While showing interest in your child’s experiences is natural, avoid probing about their time with the other parent. Let them share willingly and maintain their privacy.

2. How can I handle conflicts with my ex-partner during the holidays?

Try to resolve conflicts peacefully and constructively. Focus on the well-being of your children and keep their best interests in mind.

3. Can I celebrate holidays on different days to accommodate both parents?

Absolutely! Create your own unique traditions and celebrations that work for both you and your children.

4. What if my ex-partner and I have different parenting styles?

It’s natural to have different parenting styles, but prioritize creating a loving and supportive environment for your children.

5. How can I prioritize self-care during the holidays?

Find time for activities that recharge you mentally and emotionally. Taking care of yourself will allow you to be more present for your children.

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