Setting Holiday Expectations with your Co-parent

December 1st


How to align expectations with your co-parent?
“Happy Holidays”, “Joyous Kwanzaa”, “Joyeux Noël: ,” “Feliz Navidad…” regardless of what you might call it, this time of year can mean different things to different people. But when you and your co-parent have contrasting expectations for the holidays, it can be a crash course for disaster for your entire family. If you’re searching for ways to compromise, look no further! Koh-Parenting is here with a roadmap for navigating your way toward a stress free middle ground.

The Gist

The universal themes of traditions and togetherness take on added importance during the holidays. However, those concepts may be celebrated in unique ways depending upon the specific culture, community, and individual. For example, the type and frequency of events and how they are observed- be it with gifts, food, religious ceremony, etc.-can vary greatly. For co-parents, the season may seem to illuminate differences and cause increased conflict as each parent tries to satisfy their wishes with their child. Prevent negativity from overpowering the holiday experience for everyone by clarifying and managing expectations. Discuss your preferences with your co-parent in advance, and coordinate gift-giving efforts. Consider celebrating all or part of the holiday together, as your child will benefit from seeing his/her parents interacting positively. If your efforts to collaborate are unsuccessful, resist the urge to vent your disapproval to your child as he/she may take on and/or internalize your stress. Instead, prepare your child for what will happen during the holidays at each household, and highlight the strengths of each. Teach your child the traditions and values that matter most to you and your family when your child is in your care, and focus your attention on holiday activities or rituals that build connections and strengthen your relationship.


The holidays hold special meaning for all of us. They have the power to conjure up memories and feelings from years past, and those memories shape our interpretation of the season. But what do you do when your version of the holiday doesn’t match your co-parent’s vision? Read on for tips on how to make two separate holiday celebrations gel in a way that brings enjoyment for you, your co-parent, and your child.

  • Plan ahead. Initiate conversations about your expectations for the holidays before they happen. If you don’t know where to start, consult our earlier NL, and we’ll spell it out for you in our Koh-Parenting Newsletter Volume 2: Planning for the Holidays with your Co-parent.
  • By Koh-Parenting Services LLC

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