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Divorced for the Holidays: Extended Family

Past blog posts have discussed tips for helping children of two-home families deal with the holiday season and spending holidays away from one of their parents.  Today’s post discusses another group of people affected by a two-home family: the extended family.  Oftentimes, divorced (or otherwise unmarried) parents hope that all their extended family will be able to attend the holiday get together the years they have their children.  Unfortunately, when scheduling with the extended family there can be added confusion, hurt feelings, and headache for divorced parents.  Fortunately, there are things you can do to help the holidays run more smoothly and help your kids get to see as many members of their extended family as possible.  

Here are some tips you might consider when making the holidays work for you, your kids, and your extended family:

  1. Give notice and reminders in advance. You may think often about your excitement for having your kids for Thanksgiving, but everyone else is busy living their lives and thinking of their own needs (and often balancing their time between two extended families).  Help them out by sending an email or giving them a call letting extended family know that you will, in fact, have your children for the holiday(s) this year.  Send the email out in September or earlier, before any actual planning has begun.  You might include in the email (or call) that you do not have your kids every year, so it would mean a lot to you and the kids if everyone could celebrate together for the year you have them.
  2. Be flexible. If your extended family is considering celebrating holidays on a day other than the actual holiday, see if the planners are willing to make it a day (and time) your kids will be with you.  Do your best to offer a few options of days you will have the children, surrounding the actual day of the holiday.  Don’t book up those days with other things until the alternative day for the holiday is planned and on the schedule.
  3. Host! When you only have your kids for every other holiday, it makes the holidays you do have your children all the more important.  If you want to see the most people possible during those years, sometimes the best bet is to host the holiday yourself.  If you do host, you are able to invite all the important people in you and your children’s lives (from your side of their family that is).
  4. Give your extended family a friendly reminder.  To ensure that the children get to see the best of their extended family, remind family members that you do not want to use the holiday time together to speak negatively about the children’s other parent.  Oftentimes people want updates on the status of your family relationships and how the kids are dealing with it.  This is not the right time to discuss these things.  Save those discussions for the events when you don’t have the kids!

We hope these tips help you have a happy and low-stress holiday season.

If you need to speak with a Seattle area divorce and family law attorney, please contact us today.