Holiday parenting time can be a difficult issue between parents who no longer live together. Who doesn’t want to see a child discover the gifts that Santa left on Christmas morning or share the gifts and stories of Hanukkah on every night? It is normal to be disappointed when your parenting time for a particular year does not include the time which is part of your perfect holiday vision.

When faced with a changed holiday schedule due to divorce, some parents react with great disappointment and sadness. These feelings can be enough to infect the holiday season and can steal the joy from the parent and from those around them – including their children. But while old traditions may not occur, new ones can spring up in their place.

The truth is that children only know which days are extra special and important because we tell them. We can designate any day as special and important with some holiday spirit a. A willingness to create the holiday spirit in your home will go a long way toward protecting your child’s ability to have happy memories of the holidays. That means that even if you do not have Christmas morning as your parenting time this year, put up a tree and decorate anyway. Even if you do not have parenting time every night of Hanukkah, light the menorah on the nights you have.

Children are excited on Christmas morning when they discover that Santa has been at their home the night before. But how much more exciting is it to go to the other parent’s home to discover that Santa stopped there too? Two Christmas mornings? Most children would be accepting and excited at the idea!

As your children get older, Santa may no longer be the focus. Encourage extended family to shift holiday celebrations to a schedule which allows participation of your children and be flexible to the holiday schedule of your co-parent’s extended family. Your holiday time with your children is fleeting. Soon they will be grown with families and traditions of their own. Don’t waste the time you have pining for the traditions of old. Make new and happy memories in the time and space you have. Happy Holidays!