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Key to parenting at holiday time: flexibility, experts say

The holidays are supposed to be fun, but everyone knows there are elements of stress that can overwhelm some. When family dynamics are complicated, it can be a source of tension. Parents who are divorced and trying to raise their children harmoniously can run into some problems.

There are a lot of decisions to be made. Who gets to spend time with whom, and when? And what if the parents have different religious beliefs? An important thing to remember, experts say, is that the children are often caught in the middle. They shouldn't bear the brunt of parents' arguments.

The Huffington Post offers some tips about ways parents can be flexible around the holidays. They may offer some solutions for potentially complicated family conflicts. Here are a few of them.

• Being flexible about family traditions is important. It's okay to lay out some new traditions to establish a new "norm" but it may also be important to the children to maintain some stability. It would be too much to throw all old traditions out the window.

• Dates and timing are important, but they can be worked around. Both parents demanding custody of children on Christmas Day doesn't do anyone any good. The holidays are part of a season, and celebrations can happen on multiple days.

• Finally, be flexible about which family members are included in holiday gatherings. Sometimes estranged spouses can make joint gatherings work. If adults are willing to get along, it's quite likely the children will too.

Source: Huffington Post, "Divorced parenting during the holiday season: Flexibility is the key," Marie Hartwell-Walker, Nov. 15, 2011

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