A Divorced Parent’s Holiday Gift Guide: Your Child’s Wish List

by Jann Glasser, Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Coach/Psychotherapist, Collaborative Coach

Holiday season is here again. If you are divorced with children, the season can be challenging as you attempt to coordinate two households and extended family, trying to meet everyone’s needs simultaneously. As you begin to review your child’s wish list for the season, there is something more precious every child wants that you won’t find in any store or even on Amazon.

It’s time with both parents during the holidays, the kind of quality time that helps your children feel reassured that while their parents might not be living together anymore, your relationship with your child remains the same.

If your child could write out their wish list for the things to make it easier, the list would look like this:

1. Help me shop for or make a gift for my other parent, if I’m not old enough to do it myself. It feels good when I can give you each gifts that you like.

2. Don’t make me feel guilty about the gift I got or what fun I had with each of you.

3. Let me celebrate family traditions that are fun and important to me. Don’t make me give them up because they’re inconvenient to you or interfere with the parenting plan schedule. People first!

4. Let me be free of drama, bickering, or fighting about holiday plan scheduling, or other details of the season.

5. Please remember that I’m not property to be divided up. I have my own needs and feelings about my family and the holidays.

6. Ask me what I might like to do with each of my parents during the holiday season that is special to me, and help make it happen.

7. Please avoid asking questions about what I did while I spent time with the other parent.

8. I don’t want to rush through opening my presents or eating a meal or visiting with relatives because I have to be at my other parent’s house. If all we’re doing is hurrying, the holidays will be ruined for me.

9. Support me making my own decisions about when I will be staying with each of you when I’m home from college so I don’t get stressed out about it when I ought to be studying for finals.

10. Please enjoy time with me while I’m with you rather than complaining that you didn’t get the exact times or amount of time with me that you wanted. There is no scorecard that keeps track of the amount of my love for you. Relax. Love me back. Let go of the details.

 Wishing you and your family peace this holiday season.