Holidays can be a difficult time for both parents and children during and after a divorce. It’s important to establish a comforting routine for your child on major holidays that is always in his or her best interests and never one that simply fits your lifestyle and is at your convenience.

Getting your child into a new routine for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas can be difficult at first—especially if your child was used to celebrating these holidays with both parents. Listening to your child’s wants and needs during this time and taking extra care to make sure he or she has a happy and carefree holiday with either parent can help ease the transition process.

Common Methods for Splitting Holidays

After a divorce, custody is often split between parents. And while the days of the week that each parent gets to see his or her child are often established by the court or agreed upon by the mother and father, holidays can present a different challenge.
Divorced parents with children often handle holidays in several different ways, such as:

    • Alternating holidays each year
      To avoid conflicts, some divorced parents agree to celebrate holidays with their children every other year. That means the father may have his children on Thanksgiving and Christmas during even-numbered years while the mother has the children on odd-numbered years.


    • Splitting holidays into morning and evening custody
      If both parents live near one another, splitting the time spent with children on holidays is a great option—especially when parents and children don’t want to go long periods of time without seeing each other on Thanksgiving or Christmas. This arrangement can also work on a rotating basis, as the father can spend Christmas morning with his children one year and Christmas evening with them the next year.


    • Celebrating holidays together
      For some divorced couples, spending a day together around their children to avoid splitting or alternating holidays is worth it. This option is best reserved for couples who can spend prolonged periods of time together without obvious tension or arguments that can make their children uncomfortable, anxious, or distressed.

Whatever option you and your children choose, do your best to make it as a fun-filled and joyous as possible. Establishing new traditions is a great way to bond with your children while helping them to move on past potentially painful memories of previous family get-togethers and holiday gatherings.