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Coordinating Holidays With Divorced Parents

Group Therapy: Holiday Family Drama Starts in August

This question comes from a Group Therapy post in our TrèsSugar Community. Add your advice in the comments!

So I know it's only August but the yearly tradition of holiday drama has already started for my family. Some background . . . my parents are divorced and both remarried. I have a sister and a half sister (dad and stepmom's daughter). My parents live 6 hours apart. Every single year my sister and I wrack our brains for a way to spend enough time with both sides over the holidays, and every year inevitably one side, usually both, gives us grief for not spending enough time with them. It seems more and more ridiculous as we get older (I'm 27 and she's 26).

To make things more complicated I recently moved out of state to be with my boyfriend so this year not only do I want to spend time with him and his family as well but I will have to travel 6 hours to see my mom, 8 hours to see my dad, and I don't have a lot of vacation time since I just started a new job. I suggested having my mom, stepdad and sister come to my place for Christmas and am getting the silent treatment from them both. Honestly, most of the year our family gets along really well and we are really close. The holidays are just so stressful!


I guess I am mainly just venting . . . anyone have similar experiences or suggestions on how to handle family drama? My sister has taken on the role of planner, she coordinates the plans and then complains to me for hours about it. She is already complaining to and about me for making her life so much harder this year by moving.

Have a dilemma of your own? Post it, anonymously, to Group Therapy for advice, and check out what else is happening in the TrèsSugar Community.

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Join The Conversation
junebrug junebrug 6 years
You're not alone, the holidays are difficult for everyone. We all want to fit into this Norman Rockwell version of life and if we don't, we feel bad about ourselves. The truth is, most people don't have it perfect and we need to stop beating ourselves up about it. This may be too extreme for you, but my personal advice is stay home and have a Christmas with just you and your boyfriend. If they shape up, you can do something with family next year. Never let anyone, even family, tell you that you HAVE to do something that makes you unhappy. The holidays are about peace on earth and you deserve a little of your own.
anabj anabj 7 years
my husband and I used to make a plan and send it to our parents (we used to live 9 hours away from his parents and 10 away from mine) every holiday marking where we were going to sleep and eat everyday, and they could see we would sleep and eat the same amount of times in each place. Even doing it that way they used to complain. Now we are living nearer and we feel free.
stephley stephley 7 years
The trouble with waiting for your own kids to show up and get you out of holiday traveling is your sisters might have kids then or your parents will fix up their house and be more excited about your visits... It's better to say something now than to hope some miracle change in the family structure fixes everything for you. It rarely does.
Sundown321 Sundown321 7 years
I'm in the same position. I'm the oldest of three girls. My parents got divorced when we were older so it became our job to handle holiday planning. After the second year of fighting, and me being the one getting yelled at, I wrote an email to my entire family (mom, dad, and both sisters). I told them that this cannot keep going on, and made a schedule. One year someone will get Thanksgiving, and the other will get Christmas. That plan has worked for the past few years. I still cannot wait until the day that I have a family of my own and it is more practical for them to come visit me!
gingirl gingirl 7 years
I know how you feel! I just moved about 8 hours away from home with my boyfriend. Though I think my situation is a little simpler because I don't really speak to my father or his side of the family since my parents divorced. And they were the ones who always made a big deal out of everything. But it's hard to see both sides of our families when we go home to visit. So now, we just usually split up for the stay and then meet up again for the drive back! I'm not so happy with this arrangement, but he seems fine with it. But I just don't think I'm gonna have the time to go home for Xmas, so I think my family is coming out here to see us. :)
stephley stephley 7 years
You're an adult and entitled to enjoy your holidays - if family stresses you out, keep them at a distance. Your parents can travel to see you & your sister, too - you don't always have to be the ones running. Sit people down (now is good, not ruining anyone's holiday spirit) and tell them that you love them, but the holiday marathons that disappoint everyone make your holidays crazy & not happy and brainstorm on what you all can do. You'd be surprised how often it turns out that at least a majority of the family is trying to figure out how to take out the crazy.
dexaholic dexaholic 7 years
Oh, another piece of advice... When my friend got married, he and his wife decided that they would rotate holidays with either family. For instance, if they spend Christmas with her parents, they spend Easter with his, Thanksgiving with her's, Christmas with his... it works out pretty well.
dexaholic dexaholic 7 years
Holiday's were always crazy for me and my sister. My parents too are divorced, so we had (1) our mom and stepdad/step-brothers/half-sister, (2) our dad, (3) our maternal grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins, (4) our paternal grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins, (5) our step-grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins, and when I was in a relationships (6) his parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins. It stresses me out just thinking about it! But this year will be much more relaxed. I'm no longer in that relationship, and we don't go visit our maternal or step-family anymore, so I only have to juggle 3! This year the only stressful thing will be to find somewhere me and my dog can crash for a few days (I live about an hour from everyone and don't want to drive back and forth every day). The only advice I can offer is to just enjoy the time you spend with your family. And there does come a point in your life when you can decide to just do your own thing, you need to decide when that is. Maybe for you, it's now.
skigurl skigurl 7 years
You will only do this for so many years and then you will give up! It's too stressful and isn't a nice way to spend the holidays - travelling, rushed, and stressed out! I have a similar (though not as bad problem) as I live with my boyfriend near my parents (but 1.5 hours away from my grandparent's where we usually spend holidays) and 2.5 hours away from his family, so we are always trying to please everyone and see everyone and not piss anyone off! My advice is do what you want to do to be zen! If you've invited them and they don't respond, fine, do your own thing, and if they complain, say you tried. You're an adult, and as long as you see them during the month of December, I say it's fair game to spend the holiday with whoever you choose.
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