EP: 165

Dr. Kathryn Smerling

Making the Holidays Magical for Your Children After a Divorce With Dr. Kathryn Smerling

The holidays are a particularly challenging time for divorced parents.

How do we navigate our own feelings of loss without passing that heartache onto our children? Can we create new traditions and still make the holidays a magical time for our kids?

Dr. Kathryn Smerling is an educator and psychologist with a Ph.D. from Fordham University and Master’s from Cornell. She started her career as an early childhood educator, creating the Instep curriculum for preschoolers in the State of New Mexico before completing the psychoanalytic program at the National Institute for Psychotherapies. Dr. Smerling has maintained a private practice as a family therapist in Manhattan since 1998, and she holds certificates in Divorce Mediation, Divorce Collaboration and Relational Therapy. 

On this episode of Divorce Dialogues, Dr. Smerling joins Katherine to explain what divorced parents can do to navigate feelings of loss during the holidays and find new ways to celebrate with their children. She discusses why it’s crucial for coparents to be collaborative and offers advice on how to approach holiday planning with a difficult ex-spouse. Listen in for Dr. Smerling’s insight around religion as a source of conflict for coparents during the holidays and learn how to talk to your children about creating new traditions after a divorce.


What divorced parents can do to navigate feelings of loss during the holidays

Dr. Smerling’s advice on finding new ways to celebrate the holidays after a divorce

Why it’s crucial for coparents to be flexible and collaborative re: holiday plans 

Why Dr. Smerling suggests including children in creating new traditions

The pros and cons of alternating holidays and examples of creative alternatives

How to approach holiday planning with a high-conflict ex-spouse

Using the BIFF system (Brief, Informative, Firm and Friendly) to communicate with a difficult coparent 

How religion can be a source a conflict for divorced parents around the holidays

The role a parenting coordinator can play in making holiday plans

Dr. Smerling’s advice for divorced parents facing the holidays for the first time


Dr. Smerling’s Website


The Center for Understanding in Conflict 

Miller Law Group 

Katherine on LinkedIn 

The New Yorker’s Guide to Collaborative Divorce by Katherine Miller 

Email katherine@miller-law.com 


Ackerman Institute for the Family 

National Institute for Psychotherapies