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The holidays are a special time of year filled with excitement, anticipation and traditions. For parents, and children going through divorce, it can also be a season filled with anxiety and dread. Here are 5 tips to help your kids have a stress-free holiday season:

1) Make New Traditions: This is a new beginning for both you and the children, don’t put pressure on yourself, or your children to make this holiday the same as years gone by. It’s not, and that’s okay. Make new traditions, perhaps there is a new event or activity to take the kids to. Raising Arizona Kids ( is a great resource for family activities. But, what about those old traditions?

2) Put the Kids First: If your family has a special tradition, for instance, maybe you went on the Polar Express every year, should you go this year? Who should take them, mom or dad? Should we go as a family? How would that work? Often as parents we start to overthink these things. Just ask the kids want they want, and then put their wishes first. Don’t pummel them with questions, just a simple, “Hey, did you guys want to go on the Polar Express again this year?” gets the conversation started. It could be that they think they are too old for that this year anyway! Of course, if you are considering a family event with your ex, make sure that you both have the maturity to make the event about the children and focus on them.  

3) Be Positive: Have you ever noticed that when you are with a happy and fun person it seems to rub off? Be that happy and positive person for your children. Don’t speak poorly of their other parent (whether it’s the holidays or not!). Don’t dwell on the past, or talk about the undesirable differences between this season and the past. In fact, don’t even think those negative thoughts. Your children are very perceptive, and even if you don’t verbalize your thoughts they will easily pick up on those feelings.

4) Be Supportive: Your children have two parents who love them, which means that both parents will want to attend their holiday choir concert. Be supportive of the relationship your children have with both parents, and their extended family. Focus on your child, their activity and performance, and don’t allow your child’s events to become a battlefield among adults. When the kids talk about what they did with their other parent and extended family, be encouraging and prepared to say things like “that’s great”, “oh that sounds like fun”. Say it and mean it!  

5) Take the High Road: This is always difficult, but perhaps holiday season will encourage you to put past disagreements behind you. In that spirit, should you take the kids shopping to get their other parent a gift? Or help them make a craft for the other parent? Taking the high road will give you the opportunity to truly demonstrate to your children that you should treat others the way you want to be treated.