The holidays are supposed to be a happy time when families get together and celebrate. But when parents are divorced or separated this time of the year can be very stressful for all concerned.
No one knows this better than our specialist Alpharetta collaborative divorce attorney who deals with parenting issues on a daily basis. Her sage advice is to put the children first.
How to Deal with Divorce and Parenting Issues
When parents divorce or separate it is essential they agree on issues involving any children born in the marriage. In some instances, a court of law will decide how and where children will spend their holidays. Increasingly, attorneys will help the parents agree on these issues through a collaborative process or through mediation.
Sometimes parents alternate major holidays annually, while others split the holidays by weeks, days or even hours. The latter approach enables both parents to spend time with the kids, though this can be quite traumatic for them. Alternating holidays can also be traumatic since the children won’t see one of their parents over the holiday period, unless they get a certain number of days or weekends as they would during the year. This can be problematic if the parent who has “custody” during the holiday plans to travel to another city, state, or even to another country.
Occasionally, split families get together over the holidays and spend time together, sometimes with their new partners and extended families. It can work, but only if everyone concerned cooperates fully and doesn’t allow bad feelings or grudges to be expressed. If there is any chance of hostility or conflict this approach should be avoided.
Factors That Impact on Divorced Families
Two major factors that can impact on parents and children when it comes to dealing with divorce and parenting over the holidays are:
- The age of the children
- The behavior and empathy of the parents
Young children tend to find the challenge of dealing with the annual holiday season more difficult than older (adult) children who tend to be more rational. This is especially true if they spend more time with a non-custodial parent largely because routines often change. Children generally thrive when their lives follow a set routine because it makes them feel secure. So if you don’t have custody of your kids, find out from your former or estranged spouse what routines they are used to. Think of the child or children, and be empathetic. Don’t make things different just for the sake of trying to make them have a happy time with you.
Being empathetic doesn’t mean you have to give into the whims and wishes of children, just because you want them to have especially happy holidays. At the same time, you can take time out to chat about what they would like to do. It’s all got to do with being reasonable, and certainly not about one-upmanship against the other parent, custodial or non-custodial.
Children often get angry over the holiday season, particularly when they can’t see one or other parent. This is not unnatural, and parents need to deal with these feelings in a positive way. Sometimes this anger is initiated by feelings of guilt because the child feels he or she is responsible for the split. Conflict between divorced parents can increase these feelings profoundly, and it takes commitment to work through these feelings.
Ultimately, it’s vital to put the child or children first and to avoid any form of obvious conflict. If you’re struggling with issues, an Alpharetta collaborative divorce attorney or a trained counselor can help you work through them.
If you need help at any time, the attorneys at Waggoner Hastings practice compassionate family law and offer mediation and collaboration to clients. The company’s experienced family and collaborative law attorneys will also assist with divorce planning. With well thought out agreements between the parties it will be much easier to deal with divorce and parenting over future holidays.