December 01, 2023
The holidays are a time of celebration and joy for many families, but they can also be a source of conflict and stress for parents who are divorced or separated. If you have a child custody and visitation agreement, you may wonder how the holidays will affect your parenting time and your relationship with your child. Here are five (5) tips to help you navigate the holiday season with the opposing party and your child:
Even if you have a clear plan for the holidays, things may change due to unforeseen circumstances, such as bad weather, emergencies, or illness. Be prepared to be flexible and accommodate the opposing party’s and your child’s needs. Don’t let minor changes cause unnecessary tension or ruin your holiday spirit. Remember that the goal is to make the holidays enjoyable and memorable for your child.
The holidays are meant to be a festive and happy time for you and your child. Try to focus on the positive aspects of the situation and make the most of it. Create new memories and traditions with your child that reflect your beliefs and values. Share photos and stories of past holidays with your child and reminisce about the good times. Celebrate the holidays with generosity, gratitude, and kindness. Show your child that you can co-parent effectively with the opposing party and that you can still have a wonderful holiday season despite the challenges.
The holidays can be emotionally challenging for parents who are separated or divorced, especially if you have to share their child with the opposing party. You may feel angry, jealous, lonely, or sad. However, you should not let these feelings affect how you treat the opposing party or your child. Be respectful of the opposing party’s time with your child and don’t interfere or sabotage it. Don’t badmouth the opposing party in front of your child or make them feel guilty for spending time with their other parent. Don’t use your child as a messenger or a spy. Don’t make unrealistic demands or expectations of the opposing party or your child.
Your child may also have mixed feelings about the holidays, especially if they have to split their time between two homes and two families. They may miss you or their other parent, or feel torn between the both of you. They may also have to adjust to different routines, rules, and traditions in each home. Be supportive of your child and their emotions. Listen to them and validate their feelings. Reassure them that they are loved by both parents and that they don’t have to choose sides. Help them cope with the changes and transitions by maintaining some consistency and stability in each home.
The best way to avoid confusion and disputes is to plan ahead and communicate with the opposing party about the holiday schedule. Review your custody and visitation agreement and see if it specifies how the holidays are divided or alternated. If not, try to reach a mutual agreement with the opposing party that works for both of you and your child. You may want to consider factors such as family traditions, school breaks, travel distance, and your child’s preferences.
If you are in a situation where you can’t co-parent with the opposing party, the best thing you can do to lessen the conflict is to follow the court ordered visitation and holiday schedule. This will help lessen the confusion and the conflict and keep everyone on the same page. Doing all of the other mentioned tips will also help.