For millions of children, the holiday period can bring forth incredible stress. The No. 1 thing is parents communicating with each other and talking without hostility.
If you can't do the job on the phone or in person, use e-mail or letters. It's easier to keep the emotions out of it that way, and you can accomplish a lot: setting schedules, avoiding duplication of gifts and keeping your own anguish away from the children.
The worst thing you can do is use your kids as a communication conduit between yourself and your ex.
You can make the holiday as painless as possible by taking a few simple steps, they recommended.
1. Settling things in advance avoids last-minute disappointments and anxiety.
2. If you're splitting the holiday, make the switch at a reasonable hour. Midnight on Christmas Eve isn't a reasonable hour.
3. If you and your ex-spouse can't agree, consider a mediator, someone who will help you play nicely in the sandbox.
4. When negotiating, realize that neither side gets 100 percent. Compromise is key and don't use your kids as trophies.
5. Consider setting up an alternative holiday a few days before or after Christmas. Have two celebrations.
6. Encourage your child to call the absent parent during the holiday, and make sure you leave the room and give him or her some privacy when the call takes place.
7. Never badmouth your ex when the child is within earshot. Kids see themselves as half mom and half dad. Criticism of a parent breaks down their self esteem. Plus, kids think they have to fix their parents' emotions.
8. Don't grill the kids about what happened at the ex's house. Let them volunteer information if they want to.
9. Watch out for manipulation by the kids trying to "milk" the holiday, especially as they grow older. That's another reason why it's important to communicate directly with your ex.
10. With older children, be sure to ask for their input. Ask them what their ideal Christmas would be, then work out what is possible. The adults need to make the decisions, but the kids need to feel like they've got a voice.
Source for post: Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Thanks to Ben at the South Carolina Family Law Blog for pointing this great article out.