Challenging Coparenting Times: Holidays & Visitation

Being divorced during the holidays can be challenging for you and your kids. Holiday visitation during divorce  can often raise a lot of strong emotions, even more so around traditional “family times.” Risa Garon, our guest from Divorce Dialogues, came on the show to share with us how you can stay focused on your children through visitation issues and reduce conflict between you and your coparent.

Listen to Divorce Dialogues episode featuring Risa GaronSpotifyGoogle PodcastsApple PodcastsAnchor.

Risa is a licensed clinical social worker, a board-certified diplomat, a certified family educator, and the Executive Director and co-founder of the National Family Resiliency Center. At the center, Risa and her team educate parents and legal professionals on making child-centered decisions during a divorce. They also help parents build more trusting and cooperative co-parenting relationships.

Handling Holiday Visitation During Divorce

One of the most difficult times to be separated from your child or your coparent can be during the holidays. Your kids may be feeling the loss, and you may be as well. It’s ok to have those feelings, and you should let your kids know that as well. But at the same time, it’s great to develop new traditions and coping skills for a positive path forward.


  1. Make new traditions.

Risa shared a wonderful story about how a family developed new traditions around the holiday during our conversation.

A family felt kind of isolated. They couldn’t be with family or friends for some reason. What they did is – this was for Thanksgiving – they made tents, and they made them out of sheets. They painted them and they made all kinds of designs. They shared Native American stories. They made new foods like corn pudding. They looked up recipes, and the kids and their parents did this together. They had the greatest time.  They took pictures.  This was very, very different from the traditional let’s sit around the dining room for a few hours kind of Thanksgiving meal.

Your family may look different now, but you can develop your own traditions just like the family in Risa’s example. Incorporating these new rituals into some of your old traditions can make the holidays feel traditional and new at the same time.


  1. Consider a joint holiday.

For coparents that get along well, consider making some holidays joint, with both coparents participating. For example, some divorced families will open presents all together on Christmas or have a joint meal. That’s not to say that you need to make the entire holiday a joint affair. You can set specific parameters such as, “On Christmas, we’ll open presents together and have hot cocoa between 8 and 10am.” Set expectations with your kids and your coparents early and clearly, so there’s no conflict on the big day when it’s time to go home.


  1. Coordinate gift giving.

It can be tempting to shower your kids with gifts to “win” their affection during or after a divorce. Don’t give in to this temptation – it’s not a contest. For holidays or birthdays, coordinating gift-giving with your coparent can take some of the anxiety out of this time. If you can, sit down and discuss what you plan to give the kids and whether you can combine forces to give one big gift. Setting monetary limits and other parameters can be helpful as well. For example, you don’t want your copartner to buy your kids a pony and then expect you to care for it in your backyard.

Similarly, if your kids have been asking for a computer, and you decide to purchase one jointly, where will the computer live? Is a laptop a better choice so it can travel between homes? Talking about these issues can eliminate potential conflicts, and disappointed children, before they happen.


  1. Don’t isolate yourself.

It can be rough if a joint celebration isn’t possible and you don’t have your kids during the holiday. Don’t isolate yourself and spend the time mourning. Your family looks different now, and your children have two homes, but that’s ok. Have dinner with friends, take a cooking class, throw an adult-only party, or have a Netflix binge with a friend. You can even get out of town and take a vacation or have a staycation at a local spa or hotel. Start your own traditions for your solo time when your coparent is with the kids.

Considering these approaches and working cooperatively with your coparent can reduce conflict around holiday visitation issues and build stronger relationships with your children.

Perhaps you are interested in reading our guide: Holiday Survival Guide for Divorcing Parents


We are here to help!

You can find Divorce Dialogues on alternate Wednesdays from 5:00 to 5:30 on WVOX 1460AM.

If you’re looking for a low conflict approach for your divorce, that protects you, your children and your dignity, we can help. Reach out to Miller Law Group for more information, or call us at (914) 256-8997.

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