Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men (Yes, even your ex.)

Growing up, we were taught, per Karen in Babysitters Club Little Sister books, that having divorced parents was really cool. In my experience, about the only accurate thing is that your dad is definitely going to be rich and keep getting rich and go on his merry way with a new family. (Yes, yes, not all dads, but you gotta believe that Watson Brewer was not a hard character to create for our girl Ann M. Martin.) Having divorced parents can be a real drag sometimes, but at least kids who celebrate can get two Christmases out of the deal. Here are some tips and tricks to coparenting at Christmastime that have worked for us:

  1. Make sure they know Santa knows where to find them.
    This can be super stressful for kids. Even if they don’t vocalize their concern, they may well be thinking it. Assure them that Santa knows.

  2. If you can afford it, have Santa swing by both houses! Materialism is not a good thing. But if you’re dealing with kids at Christmas and are maybe feeling a little bad that they have to divide their time between you and your ex, presents take the edge off.

  3. Set the schedule with your ex far in advance. The holidays are stressful enough. Make it easier on all of you by knowing exactly who is doing what where when.

  4. Coordinate gifts with your ex. When I was younger, I used to be filled with pure dread that my mom and dad might have gotten me the same thing, and that I’d have to return one and hurt their feelings*. To this day it makes for stomach butterflies about it.

  5. Set them up with the right clothes for the occasion. Even if you’re not the one bringing them to Christmas Eve church, make sure your kids will look like your angels by sending them with their special occasion clothes.

  6. Don’t force anything. Yes it’s your job to make the magic, but kids know when you’re at (or past) your limit. And yes you want it to be perfect, but if something goes wrong, bless it and forget it. Toss the burnt-to-a-crisp bird that you just took out of the oven and order Indian. Let your kids remember the joy, not the stress.

  7. Don’t try to overcompensate. Kids can smell that a mile away.

  8. Do try to overcompensate. They deserve it.

  9. Start new traditions. No, it doesn’t look like years past. That can be sad for everyone. Mourn what used to be, but don’t get stuck there. Make new traditions!

  10. Be present with your kids. No matter how much time you get or whose year it is, the holidays are special. They won’t remember most of their gifts or what was for dinner, but your children will remember you being there. Make the most of it if you can.

Peace on Earth is a lot to ask for, but ‘tis the damn season as Taylor would say. Do what you can to have a peaceful Christmas with you, your kids, and their other parent. We know achieving Watson Brewer-style benevolence isn’t easy or realistic, but give it your best. You’ll all be better off for it and, as much as we don’t like to preach here at Divorcist, it’s kind of in the spirit of Christmas.

We hope this helps! We wish you and your family a healthy and joyful holiday.




*I know now that neither of them would have felt bad, but I didn’t know it then!