The holiday season is a time for families to get together, particularly over Thanksgiving and Christmas. But for families that have been split by divorce, this time can be extremely painful, especially for the children.
Fortunately, many couples agree on a co-parenting plan for their children when they divorce. This entails a certain degree of compromise as well as constant communication, and sincere cooperation. Instead of having a judge lay down the law in terms of custody and visitation rights for the parent that doesn’t have custody, a co-parenting agreement is structured with the help of a Alpharetta family law attorney. Its success is totally dependent on the ability of the two parties to work together, even though their marriage has failed.
Nevertheless, co-parenting over the holidays can be difficult. Many working parents have time off at this time of the year, and so it is a lot easier to find time to spend with their children. But when both parents have the same time off, this can cause conflict, even with a good, solid co-parenting plan in place. After all, if you celebrate Christmas, and Christmas Eve has always been a special time for both you and your former spouse, there’s got to be compromise because you can’t both seize the moment.
Here are a few tips to help make co-parenting over the holidays as stress-free as possible.
Top Ten Tips for Co-Parenting Over the Holidays
- Put your children first and don’t involve them in any squabbles or disputes. Discuss holiday plans, but don’t ask them to make decisions. Don’t make promises you aren’t going to be able to keep.
- Set boundaries in terms of your children’s expectations. It’s difficult enough doing this in a happy marriage, but can be very challenging when you are co-parenting. Ideally, both parents will agree on these boundaries.
- Plan well in advance so that everyone knows where they stand, especially if you and your spouse agree to deviate from the regular terms of your co-parenting agreement. Also be sure that deviation is allowed in terms of the agreement; if not you could be held in contempt of court, especially if deviations result in unpleasant issues.
- Be flexible when it comes to trading days or weekends with your former spouse, particularly if he or she has more time than usual available for the children.
- If you’re going to be giving gifts, don’t try and outdo your former spouse. Rather make an extra effort to have happy, fun times with the children.
- If you are not the parent that gets to spend traditionally special days with your children, celebrate these on a different day, and explain to the children why you are doing this.
- If your children are older consider introducing new holiday traditions that you can all look forward to. These could be anything from reading stories around the fire to visiting special places – or even just celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day.
- There will inevitably be times during the holidays that you won’t be able to spend with your children. Don’t harbor resentment; rather focus on yourself and do something special with other family members or friends. If this isn’t possible, consider spending time with people who don’t have families of their own – elderly folk or children in orphanages or other homes.
- Never ever make your children feel guilty because you are alone or cannot be part of special family celebrations. It is not their fault. They need, more than you, to feel loved. And if they feel loved, chances are you will too.
- Remain positive for your own sake and for the sake of your children.
You can avoid unnecessary heartache over the holidays by ensuring you have a well thought out, workable co-parenting agreement in place. Waggoner Hastings Family & Collaborative Law specializes in mediation and can help couples ensure that divorce agreements run as smoothly as possible. If you need help, contact one of our partners to schedule a consultation.