This is the time of year when children are most exposed to the rifts between their divorced parents. Why? Because the holidays are coming. The potential for conflicts between divorced parents is huge at this time of year. That can put a lot of pressure on the kids and create negative feelings and memories of events.

Naturally, that’s not what you want for your kids. With that in mind, think about talking to your ex and making a plan that will help you both focus around the kids this holiday season. Here are some tips for making everything work:

  • Decide if there are any holiday events you can share. If the kids are going trick-or-treating this year, for example, see if you and your ex can manage to walk around together for a few hours in peace to accompany them.
  • Be reasonable about gifts. Talk about the holiday gifts you each plan to buy so that you don’t duplicate items and disappoint the kids. Make sure that you’re both “playing fair,” too, when it comes to big-ticket items. Don’t try to outspend your ex to win favor.
  • Negotiate some extra time for the extended family. Don’t make the grandparents miss out on the kids (or the kids miss spending time with their cousins) due to the custody and visitation schedule. If the grandparents are in town on your day with the kids, be willing to trade some time with your ex to accommodate them.
  • Don’t let the kids know you are sad. The kids will feel guilty about leaving either parent alone on the holiday. Even if you’re terribly unhappy with the holiday schedule, plaster on a smile and keep it to yourself.

It’s not easy to make the holidays work when you’re separated or divorced. Look to your parenting plan for guidance. If necessary, rely on your attorney for additional support and guidance.