Effective Strategies for Resolving Holiday Activity Disputes in Co-Parenting Situations

Co-parenting during the holidays can be a challenging experience. While it’s essential to create lasting memories for your children, it’s not always easy to reach an agreement on holiday activities and traditions when you share custody of your kids. Disagreements over who gets to spend what day with the kids, how much money to spend on gifts, or where to celebrate can lead to conflict and stress. However, with effective communication and compromise, you can overcome these challenges and create a joyful holiday experience for your children.

Why Co-Parenting During the Holidays Can Be Challenging

The holidays are a time of joy and celebration, but they can also be stressful. Co-parenting during this time presents unique challenges that require careful consideration and planning. Here are some reasons why co-parenting during the holidays can be challenging:

  • Conflicting holiday traditions: Each parent may have different family traditions that they want to uphold, which can lead to conflicts over where and how to celebrate.
  • Unequal distribution of time: Depending on the custody agreement, one parent may have more time with the kids than the other during the holiday season.
  • Financial disagreements: The cost of gifts, travel, and other holiday expenses can add up quickly. Disagreements over who should pay for what can cause tension between co-parents.
  • Lack of communication: When co-parents don’t communicate effectively about their plans for the holidays, misunderstandings and conflicts can arise.

To overcome these challenges and create a harmonious co-parenting experience during the holidays, here are some effective strategies that you can use:

1. Start Planning Early

One of the most effective ways to avoid conflicts during the holiday season is to start planning early. As soon as you know your child custody and visitation schedule, sit down with your co-parent and discuss what holiday activities and traditions you want to uphold.

Make a list of the events that are most important to you, such as Christmas Eve dinner, Hanukkah celebrations, or New Year’s Eve parties. Then, work together to create a schedule that allows both parents to participate in these events with the kids.

By planning early, you can avoid last-minute conflicts and ensure that everyone is on the same page about holiday plans. It also gives you plenty of time to make any necessary adjustments or compromises.

2. Communicate Effectively

Effective communication is crucial when co-parenting during the holidays. Make sure that you and your co-parent are on the same page about holiday plans by discussing them regularly leading up to the season.

If possible, try to communicate face-to-face or over video chat instead of relying solely on text messages or emails. This can help prevent misunderstandings and allow for more productive conversations.

When communicating with your co-parent, be respectful and open-minded. Listen carefully to their concerns and opinions, and try to find common ground when making decisions.

3. Be Flexible

Flexibility is key when co-parenting during the holidays. Be willing to compromise with your co-parent in order to create a schedule that works for everyone.

If one parent has more time with the kids during the holiday season than the other, consider adjusting your schedule so that both parents have equal time with their children. This can help prevent feelings of resentment or unfairness from arising.

You should also be flexible when it comes to holiday traditions. If your co-parent has a different idea of how to celebrate a particular holiday, be open to trying something new. Remember that the most important thing is to create happy memories for your children.

4. Stick to Your Parenting Plan

Your parenting plan is an essential tool for co-parenting during the holidays. This plan outlines the custody and visitation schedule that you and your co-parent have agreed upon, and it should be followed as closely as possible.

Make sure that both you and your co-parent are familiar with the parenting plan and understand its terms. If there are any conflicts or disagreements, refer back to the plan and use it as a guide for resolving them.

5. Focus on Your Child’s Needs

The most important thing to remember when co-parenting during the holidays is that it’s all about your child’s needs. Put your child’s happiness and well-being first when making decisions about holiday activities and traditions.

Consider what will make your child happiest during the holiday season, whether it’s spending time with both parents, participating in certain traditions, or receiving certain gifts. By focusing on your child’s needs, you can create a positive holiday experience for everyone involved.


Co-parenting during the holidays can be challenging, but with effective communication and compromise, you can overcome these challenges and create happy memories for your children. Start planning early, communicate effectively with your co-parent, be flexible, stick to your parenting plan, and focus on your child’s needs. By following these strategies, you can ensure that the holiday season is a joyful time for everyone involved.