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Holidays present difficult challenges for divorced families

Here in Rhode Island we are experiencing the autumn chill that officially puts an end to any hopes that summer's warmth may rally and resurface. As temperatures drop and people break out their heavy coats, some may begin to think forward toward their holiday get-togethers and family meals.

For some families these events are fun, stress-free ways to enjoy the people they love during the giving season. For families affected by divorce, however, figuring out visitation schedules and keeping stretched emotions in check can make the holidays a difficult time for parents, kids and extended relatives.

There are several steps that families can take to make the holidays easier for everyone involved. First, families can plan their visitation schedules well in advance of the holidays so that no one is surprised by modifications and so that children get to experience as much normalcy as possible. Remember to also view your plan from the viewpoint of the children, who may not want to sit down to 2 Thanksgiving dinners or Christmas dinners.  We recommend working a holiday visitation plan into a family's parenting plan and settlement agreement.

A second useful step for avoiding the emotional stress of divorce and holidays is keeping a good attitude. When parents are upbeat about the conflicts that arise, the children witness less hostility between them. Also, staying in a good mood helps parents make unexpected modifications to their plans to allow their children and families to have the most enjoyable holidays possible.

Finally, anyone who fears that an ex-spouse or other family member may try to kidnap or harm a child during holiday travel should speak with an attorney about those concerns. While the holidays can be a difficult time for getting work done through the courts, individuals should always keep their children's best interests in mind.

The holidays should be a fun time for everyone but people who have experienced divorce can sometimes get bogged down by conflict. Remembering these easy steps may help take the emotional stress out of getting through the holidays after divorce.

Source: Washington Times, "Nine holiday tips for divorced moms, dads, and kids," Myra Fleischer, Nov. 11, 2013

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