Top Ten Holiday Tips for Divorced Parents

Los Angeles divorce attorney Stacy D. Phillips, author of the book, Divorce: It's All About Control: How to Win the Emotional, Psychological, and Legal Wars, gives the top ten holiday tips for divorced parents.

By Stacy D. Phillips
Updated: December 12, 2014
Children and Divorce

Top Ten list of tips to help divorced couples with children cope with the holidays. This list was written by Los Angeles divorce attorney Stacy D. Phillips, a Certified Family Law Specialist, Divorce Magazine feature writer, and the author of the book, Divorce: It's All About Control: How to Win the Emotional, Psychological, and Legal Wars

Here they are, Top Ten Tips for divorced parents with children:

10. Get counseling.

The holiday season is undoubtedly the most distressing time of the year for everyone associated with a broken family, especially the children. Prepare for it with a trip to your favorite therapist.

9. No "one-upsmanship."

Don’t try to "out-buy" the other parent with gifts, vacations, and lavish extravagances. The children can see through your veiled attempts to have you become the "favorite" parent.

8. Give a little bit.

Be flexible with child visitation and time share. The children are already torn with the going back and forth between you two. A tug of war over the holidays ruins the spirit for them.

7. Be inclusive.

Even if you don’t like your ex-spouse’s new significant other, he/she is still part of your child’s family. Giving gifts? It’s kinder to put everyone’s name on the present, not just the mother or father’s (unless the gift is a personal one).

6. Focus on others.

Give your children a holiday message. Have them help you gather a gift basket for the troops overseas, make a visit to an assisted living care center to provide some cheering up to the elderly, or bake some cookies for your kid’s homeroom class. No better way to say "goodwill to all." These acts of kindness tend to de-emphasize the divorce wars!

5. Surround yourself with good cheer.

Invite friends, family and others—especially those important to your children—over for fun, games, or a good home-cooked meal. Also, visit others who make you and the children feel loved, special, and cared for.

4. No bad-mouthing.

Even if your ex is late in returning the children, and even if she or he says bad things to you or about you in front the kids, don’t react. Wear the "white hat," always.

3. Lessons learned.

Be a good role model. Children will often emulate their parents’ behavior. If you demonstrate kindness and charity, so will they. Show them you refuse to start, or engage in, any divorce war during the holidays!

2. Peace on earth.

Remember what the holiday season signifies: peace and goodwill. Haven’t tried already to get along better with your ex? Let the yuletide season kick it off. Your children will consider this a real gift.

1. Look ahead.

The holidays are temporary; the typical nostalgia that accompanies it will wane. With the New Year just around the corner, concentrate on all the wonderful events you’ll enjoy this coming year with your children.


Stacy D. Phillips is a co-founder of Phillips, Lerner & Lauzon, which specializes in high-profile family law matters. She is co-chair of the Women's Political Committee and a member of Divorce Magazine's North American Advisory Board. She can be reached at (310) 277-7117. View her firm's Divorce Magazine profile here.

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December 18, 2006
Categories:  Children and Divorce

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