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Making the holidays happier for yourself and your kids

If this is your first holiday season as a separated or divorced parent, you're not alone. Many other people are going through the same thing, or have in previous years. Even if you won't be sharing all of the traditional holiday festivities with your kids, that's no reason why the holiday season can't be special for you and, more importantly, for them.

This is a time to create new holiday traditions. Maybe there are things that you always wanted to do, but that your ex wasn't enthusiastic about. Ask your children what they'd like to do for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's.

Even if you're not with them on all of those holidays, you can plan special events around them. Most kids won't turn down an opportunity for multiple celebrations. Don't worry about "out-doing" your ex. Chances are that your kids will just enjoy spending time with you, even if it's not at a five-star ski resort.

If your kids are going to be taking a vacation with your ex, use this as an opportunity to take some time away for yourself or with a friend. Maybe you'll find a place where you want to create a new holiday tradition for yourself and perhaps bring your kids when you have them.

If you don't have the time or money to get away over the holidays, look for volunteer opportunities. Food banks, soup kitchens, animal shelters and many other organizations can always use help around the holidays. Nothing helps you forget your own problems like being around people whose lives are much worse off or spending time with animals who could just use a hug, a belly rub and a gentle presence.

You don't have to miss out on your kids' fun and adventures just because you aren't there. Arrange with your ex to share photos, do regular video conferencing and generally keep in touch. This should go both ways. When your kids are with you, make sure that you keep in touch with their other parent.

Often, holiday visitation is included in the parenting plan when people divorce. If you find that this isn't working or that your ex isn't adhering to his/her part of the bargain, talk with your family law attorney to find out what changes can be made so that everything goes more smoothly in the future -- especially for your children.

Source: Huffington Post, "5 Tips for Making It Through the Holidays as a Single Parent," Russell J. Frank, Esq., Divorce Magazine, Nov. 06, 2015

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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