Dear Mom and Dad,

We know this divorce stuff isn’t easy and that you’re doing the best you can. When the holidays hit, life gets a little stressful for us.

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Here are a couple of things we’d like you to keep in mind this holiday season that would really help us out.

Thank you.
With love, your kids

Stop trying to make it fair

Please remember while we want to spend time with both of you this holiday season, it doesn’t mean you have to split us down the middle.

What feels “fair” to you, doesn’t always feel so great for us. Instead of dividing our time with each of you down to the minute, it would really help if you could be flexible.

If we’re at a celebration with the other parent, it would mean a lot if you didn’t make us leave early because it’s “your time.“


Don’t hog the holidays

We get that you love us and want the holidays to be special.

Please don’t compete with each other over who can give us the “best” holiday or the “coolest” gifts.   We know more than you think and when you try to outdo each other, it feels like you’re trying to buy our love.

We’d appreciate it if you would give each other the chance to surprise us or take turns buying us “the one” gift we really want. It would even be okay for you to give us joint gifts.

When we’re not with you, help us to feel good about having a special time at our other home.


Give gifts without strings

Getting presents is cool but not if they come with lots of conditions. If you buy me a really nice present and then tell me it can never leave your house, it doesn’t really feel like a gift.

Before you buy me something, make sure you’re okay with me to choosing where my gift lives. If you’re uncomfortable with it going to the other house, please don’t buy it.


Walk your talk

It’s really confusing when I hear you say how important it is to be kind to others this holiday season but I don’t see you treat each other with the same respect.

I know you may not always feel like doing something nice for the other parent. You might even think they don’t deserve it. This holiday, I hope you realize that’s not the way I feel.

Showing up at the other parent’s house empty-handed makes me feel awkward and uncomfortable. It also doesn’t help if you send me with a present for the other parent and ignore the fact that I have a stepparent.

Please help me to do something nice for my other parent and the other important people in my life. Even if money is tight, we could make a homemade card or bake a special dessert together.

By the way, if you do help me do something for the other parent and they don’t return the favor, please know I will be proud of you for being the bigger person.


Spend time with me

It’s a lot of fun going places and doing things but being entertained all the time wears me out. I’m okay with spending the day in our pajamas and making pancakes, watching movies, reading a book together, playing games, shooting hoops, baking cookies or driving around to look at Christmas lights.

Even though I might not say it, what I really want more than anything is your time and attention.

Work it out without me

I appreciate it when you take time to listen to my ideas about the holidays but please don’t ask me to make decisions about how I spend time with each of you.

I love you both and don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. It’s stressful trying to figure out how to keep everyone happy and it makes me dread the holidays.  Realize even when I get older, being asked to choose still feels uncomfortable.

It would really help if the two of you could work things out on your own.

P.S.  It’s okay to be creative. Celebrations don’t have to happen on the same day every year. As long as you keep me in the loop, I’m okay with changing things up once in a while. It’s not the date on the calendar that makes a day with you special, it’s how we spend time together.


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About Christina McGhee

Christina McGhee, MSW is an internationally recognized divorce coach, speaker and author of the highly acclaimed book, Parenting Apart: How separated and divorced parents can raise happy and secure kids.

Christina, dubbed the “divorce coach by the UK press, gained worldwide attention for her work with three British families in the Channel 4 documentary “How to Divorce Without Screwing Up Your Kids.” She has been featured on television, radio and in print around the US and abroad.

When she is not speaking or coaching, Christina does outreach around the documentary SPLIT, a compelling film about how divorce really feels for kids.

Married for over twenty-years, Christina and her husband live near Houston, Texas. As a stepmom and a mom of four, she has extensive on-the-job training as a chauffeur, negotiator, short-order cook, scheduler extraordinaire and finder of all things lost.

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