The first holiday season after a separation or divorce can be a challenging and emotionally-fraught one for parents. However, it’s essential to make it one that your kids will remember fondly and not try to block from their memories when they’re older.

First, parents need to determine ahead of time how they will divide your time with the kids long before their first day of winter break. Having a parenting plan in place that details custody arrangements during holidays, special occasions and vacations is key. However, if you haven’t yet finalized a parenting plan, communication and cooperation are crucial.

Many people understandably dread the thought of being without their kids for even part of the holidays. However, that’s likely the way it’s going to be from now on. Make plans for yourself for when the kids are gone. That will give you something to look forward to.

Whatever you do, don’t make your children feel guilty for “leaving you.” Let them enjoy their time with their other parent without being concerned about how you’re doing. Let them tell you all about it and share photos when they’ve returned without displaying any negative feelings you may be having.

Buying gifts is an important part of the holiday season for many kids. Depending on their age, they may need your help (and your money) to buy gifts for their other parent and perhaps even his or her significant other or relatives on the other side of the family with whom you may no longer have a good relationship.

You and your co-parent should work out ahead of time who will help your kids shop and pay for presents for those other folks. However, until they’re old enough to do it themselves, you’ll likely still need to participate in the purchase of your co-parent’s gifts. Again, don’t make your kids feel guilty. Help them enjoy the shopping and wrapping process as you always have.

If you run into custody, visitation or financial conflicts with your co-parent this holiday season, you may find it wise to amend your parenting plan so that next year things will go more smoothly. Your Arizona family law attorney can provide important guidance.

Source: Huffington Post, “Divorce and the Holidays,” Debbie Martinez, M.A., Nov. 06, 2017