Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together


Negotiating Holidays With Divorced Parents

posted by Linda Mintle

Jennifer wonders if it possible to satisfy everyone’s expectations for the holidays? She and her husband Sam both have divorced parents. This means four sets of parents want to see their grandkids for Christmas. And to complicate things, they all don’t get along or live near each other.

Last year, Jennifer tried splitting Christmas Day between one set of divorced parents. Christmas Eve went to the other set of parents. Jennifer’s family spent hours in the car with cranky toddlers and were fed multiple times during all the celebrations.  Everyone wanted more time and Jennifer felt like she pleased no one.  It all felt a bit overwhelming. So what can Jennifer do differently this holiday season to make everyone happy and keep her sanity?

In truth, Jennifer may not be able to please everyone. She and Sam must decide what is truly doable and then set boundaries. The couple is also considering new options this year. One is to host the holiday festivities in their home and invite everyone to attend. If people can’t be civil to one another for a few days, then the problem is theirs, not Jennifer’s.

Another option is to vacation somewhere during the holiday. Last year, Jennifer’s friend decided to spend Christmas vacationing in Florida because the relatives couldn’t agree on a game plan that included everyone. The friend said it took pressure off all the feuding. And because Jennifer regularly sees all the relatives, this may be a viable option.  A getaway could be relaxing!

One other idea is to see if the exes will agree to be together for Christmas dinner or Christmas Eve. More and more divorced families are trying this out as a way to be with their kids. Again, the success of this plan would hinge on the exes’ decision to give it a try and exercise a little “peace on Earth”!

After much discussion, Jennifer and Sam decided to host both Christmas Eve and dinner. One parent has already opted out of Christmas Eve, but the rest agreed to come and focus on their kids and the holiday rather than past wounds or hurts that by choice remain unresolved.

How have you successfully negotiated holiday time when divorce is in play?



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