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Article by: Janet Domenack

During the Christmas Holidays it can be very difficult for families who are learning how to navigate co-parenting. Three ladies describe their experience during the Christmas Holidays. Each with different experiences and each at different stages in their co-parenting.

Susan, not her real name, is a mother of two children. Susan has been divorced for a long time and her children are now all grown up, but she reflects on what she did during the raw time when trying to figure it all out.

Susan, ‘It has been a long time thinking about Christmas Holidays. My kids are all grown up right now, but when they were little, their dad and I would take turns every Christmas.
Before the divorce, we used to always celebrate on the 24th, that was the big day for our family. So, after our divorce, we both wanted our children on the 24th which caused a lot of issues between my ex and me. I gave in eventually. I didn’t want our kids to have any bad feelings around Christmas.

I finally came to terms with not having them on the 24th of December and I started celebrating it on the 25th or the 26th. I wanted our children to be happy, and they would go to their Dad’s every 24th of December. Even now as adults, they go to their Dad’s on the 24th.

We brought up our kids in a good way. Feeling good all around and they have two families to go to and two Christmases. Really, they never lost out. They had two celebrations, one with their Dad’s family and one with my family, so it worked out. It doesn’t always work out for everybody. It is a kind of give and take situation.’




Karla, not her real name, divorced less than two years ago and is still trying to figure out the balance. Her girls are teens which has caused some different types of issues around the Holiday season. She says that during the holidays, there is an opportunity for high conflict divorce couples to have another opportunity to fight. Bring up past trauma.

Karla, ‘My family’s agreement: we alternate Christmas. Our children go to their father’s one year and then the following year they spend it with me. We also celebrated the 24th of December. Which hasn’t worked out for me, because our children always want to spend Christmas and New Years with their dad. So, I always celebrate Christmas with my girls either before or after.

While they are with their dad during the holidays, I just do my thing. I either visit my extended family in Mexico or spend time with friends, but I think Susan was right, ‘don’t put too much pressure on the kids’.

I think this year I’m going to spend the 24th with them. My parents are coming here so I hope I can have the girls with me. But if it is not possible, we will do something on the 23rd or around that time. I have learned to be very flexible.

I plan about six months in advance, trying to be very careful with the kid’s emotions around this topic and being aware of any anxiety that might arise. I’m always thinking about them. Are they happy? Are they having a great Christmas and that is all that matters?

I’m no longer obsessed with the right time and the right moment. I used to be obsessed, but I think the worst has taught me that I cannot do that anymore. It just takes energy away from me. I need my energy and all my strength to focus on my kids and bond with them and have a stronger relationship.

It is lonely and sad around this time, but I think what gives me strength is that I’m doing something good for my girls. That is what has helps me a lot. I’m giving up on Christmas or whatever else may come up, and now I focus on the now and the present.’

Susan, ‘You won’t regret it, Karla. Looking back, I don’t regret any of it. As I said the kids grew up in a good way and your kids will to. They will thank you.

No matter what, Christmas is about getting together, it doesn’t matter if it is on the 24th, 25th, or 26th and I’ve always said that to my kids. As long as we have time together and we can celebrate together, then that’s it.’

Samantha and her husband divorced when their daughter was 4 years old. It was a high conflict divorce, which ended up having the Judge decided where their daughter was going to be during the holiday season. It has been over 10 years since they signed the papers.

Samantha, not her real name, ‘My experience with Christmas and separation from my ex-husband caused the court to decide how our daughter was going to spend her holidays. We just couldn’t agree on anything. It was that difficult because we had to follow what the judge said or face the consequences.

We were supposed to divide one week of Christmas, one week with me and the other with her dad, but we managed somehow to alternate Christmas which was two weeks with Spring Break which was also two weeks. Every other year I would have her on Christmas and alternate Christmas with spring break. It just worked for us.

Not having my daughter there for the holidays, I found it extremely lonely. It was more about me getting some help and trying to figure out how to feel less lonely during this period. I felt lost sometimes without my daughter, but after four, or five years, I started to feel better about letting her go. I knew she was going to be okay wherever she went.

I started to get out and do stuff with my friends. I met other people, and I scheduled fun activities with them while my daughter was with her dad. This helped me through this whole process of separation and being alone during the holidays.

It takes time to start getting back into the groove. The process of being separated from what you thought was going to be your ever after, your perfect life with your spouse and creating that family took a while for me.’

Families who are trying to figure out how to navigate the co-parenting issues during the holiday seasons may be helped by these ladies’ insight on how they navigated the Christmas Holidays. Each with different experiences and at different stages in their co-parenting.






Janet Domenack, CDC Certified Divorce Coach®, CDC Certified Divorce Coach®, RTC Registered Therapeutic Counselor

What makes working with me different:

I went through a high-conflict and expensive divorce. I went from having what seemed like the “picture perfect life” to being a single mom living back in my home country, with just 1 suitcase, no job and little money.

It took almost 3 years, but I regained control of my life, found myself again, and got back up on my feet to create a home and a new life for my daughter and me.

Today, I devote my life to share the process that helped me survive and rebuild after divorce with other women over 40 who are going through high-conflict divorces and co-parenting situations.

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