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How to survive the holiday season with a difficult ex

Most parents look forward to the holiday season just like children do. The excitement and happiness that kids exhibit can sometimes help parents forget the ills of their world for a short time. However, dealing with a difficult co-parent could thwart the happiness that comes with the season. The holidays can be especially painful for parents who have to send kids to a vengeful and obstinate parent.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Preparing for the holidays can help in avoiding the angst that a co-parent may experience. Here are some helpful tips.

Celebrate with your ex – We know…this may be a crazy idea given how your relationship ended, but it sends a powerful message to children about how to move on from hurt and anger. Also, it shows kids that they are the center of attention and the focal point of holiday happiness.

Create new traditions – It may be cliché, but the holiday season is a collection of days, meaning that Christmas does not only occur on December 25, or that Christmas Eve is only during the evening of December 24. Changes in family dynamics create opportunities to make new traditions. This can be fun for kids and you as well. 

Forgiveness can be a valuable gift – Instead of stressing out about things going wrong during the holidays, focus on forgiving others (as well as yourself). Indeed, you may lose your temper or your ex may bring the kids back late, or an important gift may be forgotten. But life goes on, and you must go on with it. Just make sure that you’re doing the best you can for the holidays.

Source:, “Surviving the co-parenting ‘holiday shuffle’” Michelle Crosby, November 18, 2013

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