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Newly divorced parents: How to handle the holiday season

Residents in all 50 states, including Tennessee, may know that when divorce happens to families, parents and children may experience challenging times. Newly divorced parents may have already resolved the issue of child custody, division of property and child support. However, the conflict does not stop there because the parents' separation may have a long-term effect, and both parents must cooperate when it comes to raising their children.

Both parents may have to agree on a visitation plan and parenting time for the non-custodial parent. The plan should specify how each parent spends time with their children on weekends and holidays.

Holidays are considered family time and even newly divorced parents want the holiday season to be special for the children. With this in mind, a family counselor in Florida recently had some advice on how newly divorced parents should handle the holidays amid divorce angst.

According to the counselor, parents must listen to their children. Newly divorced parents may make decisions regarding upcoming holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas without asking their children what they want to do for the holidays. Parents who consider their children's suggestions will develop more effective communication with the children.

On holidays, there may have been plans established where a child had traditionally spent the holiday with one side of the family. A change may bring disappointment to a young child because he or she may worry about the other parent having to spend the holiday alone. Parents should be sensitive to this feeling when giving the child to the other parent, and make the separation as stress-free and nonchalant as possible.

Newly divorced parents should set aside their problems with the former spouse and focus on the children. Young children may not understand the situation completely, but parents should understand how divorce may affect their children. Speaking negatively about the other parent may bring stress to the children, and should be avoided.

In divorce, child custody cases may vary depending on the situation. The one constant is that a court will always do what it perceives to be in the best interest of the child when it comes to child custody and child support. To help support their children, parents may wish to consider shared parenting or an equal arrangement of parenting obligations. New living situations may take some adjustment, but parents should try to do what is best for the child.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Newly divorced angst over holiday plans," Marci Shatzman, Nov. 7, 2012

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