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A family holiday guide for divorced families

It's simplistic to say that divorce is never easy. Walking down the aisle is usually filled with happiness and many expectations about a fulfilling future: Your first house, your first child, your first Christmas.

Many of us can't wait to recreate the joy we had--or the joy we wished for--as children. We want our kids to have the excitement of seeing Santa, Christmas lights and of course, getting the presents they want can't wait to open.

But what if we told you, the present they want the most is you? Your kids are part of your life forever, and by extension, so is your ex-spouse. No one says it is easy to approach the holidays imagining a glowing fire, a cup of cocoa and your ex. But hear us out. Think about following just one of the suggestions below:

Make your schedule and check it twice: Okay, we know, kind of corny, but nothing bad can come from a little extra organization. Plan out your schedule--know who will be where and when. Extended family in your area? Make sure to include them as well, and maybe even make an effort to not just rely on your ex getting the kids to the respective grandparents, but offer an hour of your time when Nana and Papa can take the kids. Extending an olive branch is always good for your family.

If your ex's family is not in the area, make sure you set aside time for a phone call, Facebook or Skype. You know the joy you get from seeing your kids' happy faces. Sharing it is love squared.

Go shopping: Of course get your own done (and the sooner the better to alleviate holiday stress!) But be sure also to set aside an afternoon to take your kids shopping--for your ex. We know money might be tight, especially if the divorce is recent, but as the saying goes, it's the thought that counts.

When you allow your child to love both of you, you create a sense of good will. Over time, that good will and kindness grows. Generosity of spirit is one of the best skills in life that a person can have. And isn't that something every parent wants to teach their children?

Co-Holiday: Yep, we're circling back! No one is asking you to plan and prepare a four course meal. It doesn't even have to be dinner, or even occur on the actual holiday. A brunch the week before, or even just a cookie run to your local bakery after school, is great. Kids love when their parents spend time together.

Yes, they have a new normal. But they look to you, still, for the security their future will bring: Will Mom let Dad come to my ballet recital, will Dad make sure Mom knows about the school play? They love you both. You both love them. If this year is not the right year for that effort, think about trying it the next holiday season.

The holidays can be magical, but maybe you don't always feel like the most magical of people. Try some of these suggestions, or use them as a jumping point for creating some holiday ideas of your own. Put your kids first, and inevitably, over time, things will fall into place.

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Haller & Imbarlina, P.C.
20120 Route 19, Suite 208
Gigliotti Plaza
Cranberry Township, PA 16066

Phone: 724-935-0820
Fax: 724-779-6299
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Haller & Imbarlina, P.C.