Are you watching commercial after commercial showing families gathering for the holidays and thinking to yourself how sad and frustrated you are due to not being with your children this holiday? I tell my clients “You cannot control the holidays, but you can control how you go through them.”

Let’s think about that for a moment. You may not be able to change the fact that your children will be with your ex this year, and if this is your first holiday without them, it will be excruciating. However, I’ve been doing this for a long time, and have some tips to make it a little bit easier when you’re dealing with this. This may not be what you want to hear at this point, but compromising can make a big difference over the holidays.

If you’re accustomed to seeing your children open the gifts on Christmas morning followed by eating your famous pancakes that they love so much, how about if you cook up a batch of those pancakes and deliver them to your ex? I know what you may be thinking, however, hear me out. Giving your kids the tradition, they love even when they’re not with you, is priceless. I promise you; they will remember years from now, how you made sure they had their Christmas pancakes regardless of the situation and being apart. This willingness to make a little concession, to make a little compromise can change the tenor of things going forward in your co-parenting relationship.

Another tip is to create new traditions. If this is not your Christmas with the kids, how about you do your traditions (such as gift opening and pancakes) on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Day? Emphasize to them, this change in tradition allows for them to have a “bonus” holiday as well. Kids eat that stuff up; who wouldn’t want to celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, or a birthday twice?

And then, finally, and this is hard, but it’s what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to stay positive. You can’t wallow in the upset and the hurt. You want to give your child your best, so I want you to dig deep and find the energy to get through this and make holidays special for both you and the kids. Spending some time with your family and friends is so healthy for you. Take so time for yourself, whether it’s grabbing a drink with your buddies, going to the gym, whatever it is that you truly enjoy doing with other adults, and do it!

Try not to allow this difficult situation to bring you down. It’s just not worth it.

I know it’s easy for me to give advice, and it’s awfully hard to read it. You’re dealing with awful stuff. You’re unhappy. It’s the holidays, and you don’t have your children.  And I understand that that’s a very painful and difficult situation. But I’m giving you the best information I have, and the best tips that I’ve been able to pull from watching people go through this for over a decade.

So do your best to stay positive. Find some compromise. Create some new traditions. That’s the way to make the holidays and special days absolutely the best that they can be for you and your children.

Hayley Lisa

The Divorce Coach for Men