Tips for Celebrating the Holidays Apart by Ashley McDowell

The holidays can be tough for parents and children during the holidays after the end of a relationship.  Your child will most likely be spending the holidays with both parents separately.  Whether it is due to separation, divorce, or the end of a relationship, it is easy to fall prey to our emotions about our former spouses and partners. 

From growing up in a home of divorce as well as years of working with families going through divorce or custody matters, I have seen the many successes and disappointments of children and parents during the holidays.  Whatever the challenge is for you and your child’s other parent, there are many ways to make your children have fun as well as to create positive and lasting memories during the holidays.

Make your child and his or her feelings, concerns, or emotions a priority.  Your child should know that the holidays are a happy and fun time and about them.  Your child’s needs should come first and sometimes that means setting aside your emotions about the other parent.

Communicate and plan with the other parent about holiday plans and gifts for your child.  This will help set expectations, create a unified front, and make the holidays smoother.

Make sure your child has a gift for the other parent for Christmas.  The gift can be homemade or a gift the child would like to purchase for their other parent.  No child wants to feel sad or upset that he or she couldn’t give a gift.  Your child will be so happy to be able to give the other parent a gift. 

Don’t engage in a competition about who can purchase your child the best or most extravagant gift.

Swallow your feelings.  Keep your emotions in check.  Say positive and nice things about the other parent.  If you are celebrating with your family, make sure that your family does not speak negatively about your child’s other parent or family.

If this is your first year sharing Christmas, don’t be afraid to start new traditions while keeping some of the old traditions.

If it is possible, plan a holiday event to do with your child and the other parent.  Sharing some holiday traditions or events can help your child know that the divorce was not about the child but the parents.

Finally, be kind to yourself.  Plan to do something nice for yourself especially if this is one of the first years you will celebrate part of the holidays without your child and his or her other parent. 

By Ashley McDowell

Ashley Watkins McDowell has spent nearly 20 years practicing law. For the last twelve years, she has focused her practice solely on assisting clients navigate complex family law matters. As the child of divorced parents, Ashley understands the toll that divorce can take on families. Her compassionate approach to divorce, custody and complex property matters leads clients to hire her for representation to navigate the challenges of divorce, child support, custody matters and the division of complex marital estates. Her substantial, relative experience and special competence place her in the top 10% of Texas attorneys to become Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Visit the Turner McDowell Rowan Family Law website here.

Ashley McDowell
[email protected]
214.780.0646
8080 N Central Expressway
Suite 1300
Dallas, TX 75206