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It Doesn't Have To Be Scary: Co-Parenting At The Holidays

It is no secret that holidays can be stressful. Divorce simply adds to the anxiety. There are, however, a few tips to help make the season more fun and less traumatic for everyone.

1. Plan and confirm...then confirm again. Discuss holiday arrangements, including gift-giving, with the other parent well in advance. If you have a parenting-time schedule, review it and confirm the details with your ex, including who will transport the kids. Gift-giving should also be part of the conversation; you want to avoid duplication of gifts as well as significantly unequal giving.

2. Talk to your kids. Make sure that children know where they will be spending the holidays and when they will be going. Recognize that this can be very difficult for them, especially if it is the first time a major holiday is being divided. Let them know that the situation is hard for everyone, and assure them that both parents love them and want to be with them.

3. Create new traditions. Keep in mind that it may be difficult or impossible to continue some family traditions. Rather than focusing on this, take the opportunity to create new traditions for you and your children.

4. Be flexible. No matter how carefully you plan, unforeseen things can (and likely will) happen: kids can get sick; relatives can show up on short notice; weather can make travel difficult. Recognize that you can’t control everything and be willing to change plans and work with the other parent when necessary to keep things pleasant for the kids.

5. Keep Communications Open: Make sure that you communicate -- and confirm -- any necessary changes in schedules as soon as you can. (Changes should should be avoided, if at all possible.). In addition, understand that your kids may miss their other parent during the holiday; Be open and let them talk about their feelings and concerns, but don 't take any of it personally.

6. Share the kids. Many divorced parents alternate holidays. If you do this, understand that the children likely miss the other parent and make sure that they have a chance to talk to him or her. It is important that kids are connected to both parents and that each parent supports the relationship that the children have with the other.

7. Take the high ground. Keep in mind that holidays can inflame tensions. If your ex makes a snide comment, don’t take the bait. Realize that he or she is also feeling the strain of the season.

8. Take care of yourself. It is easy to get overwhelmed at the holidays. Taking care of yourself – getting proper sleep, eating (reasonably) healthily, and making sure you have some down time – will help both you and your children. Stress is contagious and the more you can do to keep yourself calm, the better it is for both you and the kids.

To discuss parenting-time concerns, or any family-law matter, call Kruse Family Law at 612.231.9865, or email

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