Divorce is difficult for children and their parents at any time of the year, but it seems that it can be particularly difficult over the Holidays with the potential for stress multiplying exponentially during Holiday season. Here's some advice to help prevent the holidays from becoming a battleground and a tug-of-war between parents.
Specifying ahead of time which parent will have custody of the children during the long holiday break can help prevent tension and anger from creeping into what is traditionally a family-based holiday. It's important to have this in writing, as you know, if it isn't written it isn't true. E-mail is a wonderful way to communicate because you have a record of what's been said and agreed upon.
Even in intact families, more than a week of holiday togetherness can test a child or parent. The kids are off from school, they don't have things to do, perhaps they get bored at home, and that can create stress. I recommend that soon-to-be-exes put their differences aside long enough to confer on gifts for their children. There's no need to go into competition with the other parent as it doesn't work and can be destructive. Divorcing parents shouldn't give gifts with the expectation the child will use it in a certain way. It's their gift, that they can take to Mommy's house or Daddy's house. You can't expect kids to have to keep it here at my house. Parents should take into consideration their ex's desires in choosing gifts for their children. A classic example is, the kids show up at the custodial parent's house - where they're living most of time - with a puppy. They don't want a puppy. If they wanted a puppy they would have gotten one.
Despite the potential for stress, it's important that parents strive to help their children to look forward to the holidays. This is a new time to start new traditions, which can give children stability. It gives them something to think about from year to year, and it helps them grow up.