Here's the thing about divorce — whether your parents got divorced 4 months or 14 years ago, it never goes away. And it's always present during the holidays as children of divorce often juggle competing requests from each parent and feel pulled in multiple directions.

Each year — no matter how old I get — I feel as if there is a competition for time with me, my wife and our children on Christmas and there aren't enough hours in the day to please everyone. It is stressful, hurtful and can lead to strained feelings at a time of joy and celebration.

There are ways to handle it and the most important lesson is to listen to your feelings and discuss them with your parents. Here are a few tips:

1. Be Honest

There is nothing wrong with how you feel and by keeping it bottled up, you are doing yourself and your parents a disservice. Their divorce is something that happened. It cannot be changed. There is still fallout from it and everyone must understand that. Own your feelings and make them known in a calm and appropriate manner, if there is an issue that bubbles up.

2. Discuss Ahead of Time

If the struggle over time together has been an ongoing issue, bring it up with your parents before the holidays and set guidelines and ground rules so everyone is on the same page. Allow everyone to weigh in and hopefully, everyone will agree on the outcome.

3. Consider Options

If visiting both of your parents and your spouse's family on Christmas is too much, make other arrangements. Maybe you can start a new tradition — spending Christmas Eve with one of your parents and Christmas Day with the other. If your parents are hesitant, explain to them that by creating an alternative time to be together you will have more time with each of them individually.

4. Be Selfish

Don't be afraid to be selfish. This is your life, not your parents'. If dividing time is simply too much to handle, maybe you need to take some time for yourself and remove yourself from the situation or at least, limit your involvement with your parents. It's better to protect your mental health than to aggravate an already delicate situation.

5. Explain the Situation to Your Kids

As your children get older, they will wonder why they are running from house to house on Christmas Day. Preempt their questions with an explanation — in terms your children can understand, of course — about why you are doing all this traveling.

6. Blended Families

Perhaps it's possible to convince your parents to spend a few hours together on Christmas for the good of your family. You can explain to them that being together will be easier on you and your children, and allow everyone more opportunity to spend quality time with each other. If things remain acrimonious between your parents, this might not work. But in other cases, it might be worth a try.