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Divorce isn’t an easy process, and it certainly doesn’t make the holidays easier, especially if you have children. Over one million children are affected by divorce proceedings annually, and it can seem impossible to make the holidays work after such a process.

Fortunately, divorce doesn’t have to mean the end of holiday spirit and joy. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the holiday season after a divorce.

Patience is Key
It may take time before you feel like celebrating the holidays again. Your ex might be acting irrationally, and your children could well prove to be a handful during this already-stressful time. Be patient with everyone, including yourself. If you’ve just filed for divorce or are in the thick of the process, it’s likely that everyone’s emotions are running high. Patience is the key to maintaining your sanity as well as a semblance of holiday spirit.

Be Flexible
Divorce is a new challenge for many, and will definitely require new solutions. If you’re not open to trying new things and changing some traditions, then the holiday season is going to be extremely difficult for you. Making new traditions might feel overwhelming or even inauthentic at first, but doing so will ultimately create a more positive environment for your children.

Don’t Compete
Just as competing in court with divorce attorneys isn’t productive, competing domestically over the holidays isn’t going to get you anywhere. If anything, it’s going to harm your children’s perception of both parents, which isn’t something you need during a time that’s supposed to be about joy and unity. You may be tempted to shower your children with presents and candy to “make up for” the stress of the divorce, or prove that you love them more than your ex, but don’t give in. On the contrary, it will be much better for everyone to stick to the normal rules and routines.

Don’t Forget Your Children
If you’re divorced and have children, you’ve met with divorce lawyers to come to a custody agreement. In most cases, the holidays operate a little bit differently than other times of the year, but it’s important that through it all, you keep the best interests of your children in mind. Take the time to reassure them that the holidays aren’t ruined because of a divorce, but they’ll be a little bit different. Listen to their concerns, and realize that some of their behavior may be more challenging than usual, especially if they don’t know how to express themselves in a mature way.

If you need additional counsel about divorce during the holidays, don’t hesitate to ask your divorce attorneys about some arrangements that have proven successful. Communication is absolutely essential during these challenging situations.