Dr. Arminta Jacobson offers tips for handling holidays after divorce

How can parents keep making happy holiday memories for their children after divorce?

Arminta Jacobson, Elaine Millikan Mathes Professor of Educational Psychology in the University of North Texas College of Education and founder and director of the Center for Parent Education at UNT, offers tips for divorced parents to make the holidays as smooth as possible.

"When parents make their plan for co-parenting at the time of the divorce, the plan should include who has the children and for what holiday – and also a plan to maintain familiar traditions so it's not so disruptive to the children," Jacobson says. "Include the children in that planning because children have expectations of which parents are not aware."

Do you always leave chocolate chip cookies and a cold glass of milk for Santa? Do you hang your stockings on the fireplace every year? Does your family open presents on Christmas Eve? Children as young as 4 or 5 – and even college-aged children – may be expecting to maintain those traditions even if the parents have divorced. Include the extended family in the planning discussions as needed, Jacobson says.

And in a time of good cheer, remember to get along, she says.

"Nothing can ruin a holiday for a kid like listening to his parents fight," she says. "Work on conflict resolution before the holidays and really focus on the kids."

-Ellen Rossetti, News Promotions