Holiday Tips for Long Distance Parents

As I was searching for creative ways to celebrate the holidays, I came across this practical list by a family law attorney, Sharyn T. Sooho on and felt like it was worthy of passing on:

1. Plan Ahead

Develop a parenting schedule before the holidays.

Avoid scheduling the children for dinner with Dad at noon and a second turkey dinner a few hours later with Mom. Instead, arrange for Dad to spend the entire day with the children in all odd-numbered years, and have Mom spend the holiday with them in all even-numbered years.

2. Keep Your Word

Stick to the schedule. Arrive on time and drop off the children on time.

3. Keep in Touch

If the children are not with you for the holidays, call them, and be sure to send cards or email. Consider celebrating the holiday or birthday before or after the actual day. Children love parties and gifts any time – nothing fancy – but something special you create just for them.

4. Let the Children Keep in Touch

If the children spend the holiday with you, let them speak with the other parent. Give the children any cards and email from the other parent, and read the messages to young children who cannot read. If the children are too young to call, help them make or receive a call, and let them have a quiet moment to speak with the other parent. Make sure to avoid planning an exciting activity like gift-opening at the same time that the children are scheduled to speak with their Mom or Dad.

Remember, children usually have a short attention span, so do not blame the other parent if conversations are short.

5. Safe Travel

Make travel arrangements with airlines for long-distance travel. Airlines provide supervision for unaccompanied minors for a nominal fee.

6. The Art of Gift-Giving

Coordinate gift-giving with the other parent. Do not give your child a cell phone if you know Mom is giving her a phone. If your ex-spouse will not cooperate, go ahead with your own plans, but do not complain to the children about the other parent.

7. Acknowledge the Child’s Right to Enjoyment

Let your child take gifts to your ex-spouse’s home. Conversely, if your child brings home a new toy or bicycle, let your child take it back to her Dad’s home, if she wants.

8. To Each His Own

Let the children spend Mother’s Day with Mom and Father’s Day with Dad.

9. Create Your Own Celebrations

Do not insist upon attending your child’s birthday or graduation party if your ex-spouse is throwing the party. Give your own party on another day.

10. Give Your Child Permission to Love Both Parents

Help your child buy or make a gift and card for the other parent, if the child is too young to handle the tasks herself. You are doing your child a favor, not your ex-spouse, because you are giving your child permission to love the other parent – the best gift you can give.

Happy Holidays, everyone!



I am so excited to be a part of this wonderful open community where parents can come and share their experiences in a non-threatening environment and without fear of criticism or judgment. I have been a long distance mom for almost two years now. The living arrangement I have with one of my children is not ideal but my current husband and I are doing our best to make it work. Being a long distance mom has been such an unparalleled experience for me that I have found it difficult to find others with which to talk about issues that are unique to being a long distance mom – until now. The image of long distance parents (moms especially) is in desperate need of a makeover. I think it is important for all of us, whether we are distance parents by choice or by circumstance, to focus on maintaining a happy, healthy family life. That’s where the forums on this site come in. This is a place to share ideas, vent frustrations, and receive emotional support from others in similar situations. I have several ideas for topics that I think will be interesting to explore including social stigma, long separations, visitation, legal issues, financial issues, holidays, travel, non-supportive people, etc. In sharing my personal stories, I’m hoping to help others know that they are not alone in the challenge of being a long distance parent.

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