If you are entering your first, post-divorce holiday season, you may be feeling a bit anxious about how it's all going to work. Even though you feel fairly confident about your co-parenting plan, you know that your kids are used to the family holiday traditions you've always had and that things will be quite different this year. Your divorce doesn't necessarily have to mean the end of your holiday fun.
There are several key factors to keep in mind that can help you and your co-parent avoid the stressful, emotionally charged, highly contentious holiday disasters that some former couples wind up facing. To start, it always helps to remember that your children's well-being is the central focus. From there, you can lay some ground rules and be proactive to help your children adapt to their new holiday routine.
It takes a group effort
A post-divorce holiday plan is less likely to be successful if each parent has a "my way or the highway" attitude. To the contrary, when co-parents are willing to cooperate and compromise for the sake of their children, they often find it possible, not only to help their children thrive but to build new and meaningful family traditions. The following list includes ideas that may be helpful in your situation:
- Invite your children's opinions: By asking your kids which customs they cherish most, you might get an idea of what you should or shouldn't do away with in your post-divorce holiday schedule. For instance, if your kids love your custom of visiting a local tree farm to cut down a Christmas tree, then it might be best to make sure you include time for that in your new holiday plan.
- Respect your co-parent: You children will fare best if they witness you and your ex being respectful of each other when it comes to creating a new holiday plan for your family. Squabbling over who gets the kids for Christmas morning or who gets to take them for pictures with Santa may not only upset your kids but may make your holidays more stressful than joyful.
- Plan ahead to avoid mix-ups: Spontaneity may be the spice of life in some situations, but it isn't likely to help much when it comes to executing a post-divorce holiday plan. By writing out a schedule for visits, special events and other important details, everyone involved can see what's happening ahead of time, leaving less room for confusion or disputes.
Your children will always love both of their parents, no matter what struggles might exist between the two of you. If you approach the holidays by acknowledging that each parent should be given an opportunity to enjoy special time with the kids, things may run a lot more smoothly than they would if you fight over every issue.
Problems that you feel ill-equipped to resolve
If your co-parent is unwilling to adhere to the terms of your court order or is somehow trying to impede your parent/child relationship during the holidays, you can turn to an experienced family law advocate for additional support.