Sometimes the fighting immediately after your divorce seems never ending. It’s exhausting emotionally, and financially if it’s in family court with lawyers involved. Most people dream of the day when the fighting can stop and they can have some sort of peace. However, the reality is there are many things to communicate about, especially when trying to figure out the upcoming holidays.

Sometimes the arguing seems absolutely ridiculous and you cannot understand how they can be responding how they are when what you want for the children seems to be the best decision. It may seem so heated and irrelevant to the children that before you know it you’ve responded and pointed out how silly it seems and you have wandered into a fight without wanting it.

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Understanding that there are many raw emotions that are guiding the process for them, and maybe you, will help you prepare for what you expect will be a difficult conversation. Keeping these tips in mind will help you be prepared to disarm your child’s other parent and help focus the conversation on what’s important: planning for your child’s holiday celebration.

1. Try not to personalize the attacks. This sounds easier said than done but to understand why some people act aggressively may help us to realize that the words that are being hurled are less about us and more about something going on for them. After a divorce they lose their traditions, some or all of the time with the kids, time with your family (even though they may have disliked it when you were together). Loss is especially difficult for some people and this is even more pronounced at the holiday. Try to listen to really understand when they are telling you something. When they are insulting you it’s not as much about you and much more about how well they are coping. Do not match the aggression but respond with I’m sorry that you feel that way, now let’s talk about the holiday schedule for the kids so they can have a Merry Christmas with both of us. By the way, pointing out how silly they are usually doesn’t help.

  1. Help Your Child Prepare a Gift for the other parent. If your divorce is fresh it’s a way to start things off on the right foot for the relationship. If your divorce happened a long time ago it might be a gesture that will change the path of your coParenting relationship. Outside of your coParenting relationship it’s valuing the wishes of your child because that other parent is important to them.
  2. Ensure that there is an equal amount of time between both parents over the holiday. Your children will grow to love traditions with both dad and mom and the memories that are made with both. Also, there will probably be more presents when they spend time with two different families…. and which child wouldn’t love that? Being generous all year round is wonderful to model to children, but giving at this time of year especially teaches them what this holiday is all about.
  3. Let them take their favorite toy that they received with them as they go visit the other parent. You can tell them that the toy keeps you connected even when you are not in the same house. If they are feeling anxious about being away from you it will be a calming force for them.
  4. If things have begun to move in the wrong direction and you have said something that might have contributed to that it’s a good move to apologize. Parents are people too and everyone makes mistakes. Being honest about your mistake may help set things back on track to making your child’s Christmas or other holiday wonderful.

The holiday celebration is a magical time filled with warm feelings, family and precious memories that they will repeat with their own families as they grow up. Following these tips will help make everyone’s time together peaceful and brighter.

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About Colleen Rice

A contributor to coParenter, Colleen Rice is a coParenting Consultant from Alberta, Canada. She keeps busy with her full time job as a Supervisor for a Family Intervention Program, and owner of her own Divorce Support Company; Family Nexus inc. Colleen is a wife and mother to three, two of who she coParents with their father. Through career in Child Protection and personal experiences she has seen firsthand the detrimental effects of divorce on children. Colleen has developed programming to educate parents on how to co-parent in healthy ways so that children can grow healthy and have best outcomes. You can learn more about Healthy coParenting at myfamilynexus.com, on Twitter @mycoparenter and on a Facebook support group called Coparenting Collective.