The holidays are approaching quickly, and in their wake comes the stresses and uncertainties faced by divorced families. The season is equated with family festivities, shared celebrations, and nary a sign of disharmony. This cultural ideal can make it tough for you and your children to cope.
Tough, but not impossible. Here are 6 tips that you and your former spouse can use to help your kids have the happiest holidays possible.
Tip No. 1: Don’t make the kids decide who they want to spend the holidays with
Don’t make the children choose between the two most important people in their lives. Before addressing holiday plans with them, check your visitation or co-parenting schedule to confirm what plan has been agreed to. If changing it is advisable based on the preferences of older children or special circumstances, reach an accord with your former spouse first.
Tip No. 2: Be willing to compromise with your former spouse
If your ex doesn’t agree with your holiday plans, resist the urge to argue. Instead, think of a way to compromise. For example: you want to take the kids to spend a week with their grandparents at Christmas, but the other parent insists that she wants them with her on Christmas Day. Instead of getting angry, see if you can make the trip the day after Christmas or offer to let your ex spend New Year’s with the kids.
Tip No. 3: Discuss gifts with each other first
Talk to your former spouse about what gifts you both intend to buy. Resist the urge to compete: parents have been known to try outdoing each other to raise themselves in the children’s estimation. For small kids, bigger-ticket items can come from Santa instead of Mom or Dad. With older children, coordinate the gift-giving so it doesn’t look like one of you spent more.
Tip No. 4: Respect boundaries
If your former spouse has the kids on a certain day, be respectful of his or her time with them. Unless it is an emergency, don’t show up unannounced, and call only if such contact has been agreed to in advance. You may miss having them with you on Christmas Day, for example, but let the kids enjoy the holiday without feeling like they are in the middle of a tug of war.
Tip No. 5: Discuss holiday plans with each other well in advance
Do you want to spend New Year’s at a Colorado ski resort but your former spouse is due to have the kids then? Discuss it with him or her and see if they will exchange New Year’s for a different holiday. Many people make plans and buy non-refundable tickets only to have the other parent refuse because they weren’t consulted. Talk about it early and avoid holiday bitterness.
Tip No. 6: Speak to your relatives
Your sister may think your ex is a major jerk, but the children don’t need to hear that in the middle of a holiday dinner. Speak to all family members and friends to ensure that they don’t badmouth your former spouse in front of the kids.
Changes happen, and dealing with divorce during the holidays is difficult for everyone involved. But with good co-parenting strategies and a positive mindset, you can give your kids the happiest holidays possible.
For assistance and advice in creating a positive holiday parenting plan, please contact The Law Office of Elizabeth Douglas to set up a consultation. Happy Holidays!