5 Mistakes Divorced Parents Make When Navigating the Holidays

Apr 11, 2017

Easter is just around the corner! Along with the joys of tradition and togetherness holidays have to offer, they offer some additional stress too. Between the hustle and bustle of food and Easter basket and gift shopping, visits with friends and family, sometimes the “togetherness” doesn’t end up feeling so calming after all. This can be especially true for a family with divorced parents.

Co-parenting following a divorce can be hard. Especially around Easter! Most of us have pre-set hopes and expectations for our experiences during holidays and we want to share those with our children. The most successful divorced parents learn how to put the child’s needs first and work with the other parent to make holidays the most enjoyable for all.

Consider these 5 common mistakes (& suggestions) divorced parents make as we enter into the Easter season.

  1. No plan - it’s imperative for all involved to have a set plan for holidays. Who will have the children when? Will you split the day or engage in an every other year routine? Perhaps this is already sent up in the divorce decree but if it’s not, talk about it early so everyone knows what to expect. Another advantage of having a set plan is that the children don’t end up feeling like they have to choose between parents.

  2. Downplaying the other parent’s traditions - traditions are an important part of Easter; the pieces that make memories last a lifetime. As a divorced parent, resist any temptation you may have to minimize the other parents’ traditions. Your children will be more well-adjusted if they can embrace both sides of the families traditions equally.

  3. Passing along your emotions to your children - as a divorced parent, there will likely be a holiday or two where you aren’t with your children. Of course, you are going to have an emotional response to this - normal and expected! It is healthier for all involved if you can process through that emotional response with your own support system and not pass that along to your children. Consider saying something like “I’m going to miss you this Easter but I know you’ll have a wonderful time at your mom’s house!”. This acknowledges your feelings but still supports your child’s time with their other parent.

  4. Don’t make your child the messenger - this is an important one throughout the entire year but especially during holidays. It may be uncomfortable to talk with your ex but it is even more uncomfortable for your child to be the go-between.

  5. Assuming everything is “okay” - just as with adults, remember that Easter can be exciting and fun but also stressful for children. Children and teens express their stress in different ways so be open to “hearing” them if they’re short fused, angry or isolating. Sometimes a simple acknowledgment that you know it’s hard for them too and you’re there for them can go a long way!

Co-Parenting can be challenging 365-days a year but it is generally easier if both parents put their child first and do their best to respectful of the other parent. Being respectful of the other parent also includes communicating about shared values and when possible have consistent rules between both households. For example, if both households agree that limiting screen time is a shared value, consider a parental control software on your children’s mobile devices that limits when your child can access the internet in the evenings or during dinner.

Wishing you and your family a very happy and healthy Easter together!