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Five Tips To Salvage The Holidays For Your Children After Divorce

Written by: Juliet Marciano, MD, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


The holidays can be a very emotional time for you and your children when divorce is part of your family’s story. Family members may feel an assortment of emotions including sadness, disappointment, hurt feelings, grief, or anger, especially early in the divorce process. It can take years until the holidays feel like a celebration again. Despite having strong feelings, your children will still want to enjoy the holidays. There are several things to keep in mind and to do to help you navigate the challenges of the holidays, especially early in your divorce, and salvage the holidays for your children.

  1. Recognize and validate your children’s feelings, share yours (within reason), and reassure them that your “different” holiday experience will still be a celebration. If they are spending the holiday with their other parent, reassure them that it’s okay to have a good time without you.

  2. Be as sensitive to your children’s needs and feelings as you can and encourage your extended family to do the same. Be sure there are no negative conversations about the divorce or the other parent or other side of the family. Your children will be struggling with many feelings and hearing a beloved family member speak negatively of a parent can be confusing and hurtful.

  3. Be as flexible as possible to include children in celebrations despite custody arrangements. If you don’t have your children on a certain day, see if the extended family can have the family celebration on a day that your children are able to be present. Even if a religious holiday is observed on a certain day, the family celebration can be any time, and it will be less stressful and painful for you and your children if they don’t have to miss seeing family members and family friends because of a custody arrangement. In the same way, be as flexible as you can to accommodate your children being able to participate in your co-parent’s family celebrations as well. Too many children lose access and connection to grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles during a divorce. Those relationships and celebrations are important, and an attempt should be made to preserve them.

  4. If possible or necessary, and both of you are willing, try to coordinate with your co-parent some gifts and celebrations. Don’t make it a contest to see who can spend more! If your child is requesting an “expensive gift” that you are in agreement on, but that may exceed either parent’s individual budget, buying and giving the gift together can send a message that the parents can still agree on some things and work together “for the sake of the children”.

  5. Hold off on introducing new partners and their children or factoring their holiday desires and schedules into the equation until your children have had some holidays adjusting to you and your co-parent “flying solo”. Your children may have strong memories of holidays as a family and may be grieving those experiences. Watching their parents create new traditions with another partner, maintain old traditions with a new partner in their parent’s place, or attempt to accommodate the schedules, needs, and desires of another adult (and children) may end up making them feel that they aren’t important to their parents anymore or that people are easily replaced.

Navigating the holidays can be a challenge for many families after divorce, but with some sensitivity and flexibility, you and your children can still experience joyful celebrations! A parent coach can work with you to explore different ways to support and guide your children as you’re redefining your family.

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Juliet Marciano, MD, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dr. Juliet Marciano is the Mindset Coach for Parents! A PCI Certified Parent Coach® and retired pediatrician, Juliet supports parents around the world who are struggling with family challenges such as divorce or parenting a child with a physical, mental, behavioral, emotional, or learning difference. After retiring from her career in pediatrics to find effective solutions to her own family challenges, Juliet now incorporates the wisdom and knowledge gained from decades of research and experience and has crafted a 6 step “Path to Possibility” that helps parents shift their mindset, gather the information, and develop the skills they need to reclaim the joy of parenting and make empowered decisions as they lead their family to thrive. Juliet’s coaching involves a strength-based, positive-focused approach and leads parents to have a calmer, more conscious, more connected, and more confident parenting experience. As founder of Marciano Parent Coaching, Juliet is passionate about helping parents experience the transformative change they desire that will impact their families for generations to come. Dr. Juliet has participated in international summits and conferences and has been a featured guest on podcasts.



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