It's easy to see all the happy families on TV during the holidays and mistakenly believe that the holidays are a failure if yours isn't perfect like the ones you see. When it comes to holidays and your children, especially if you are divorced from your spouse, it's going to require some clear thinking and sacrifice to have a holiday to remember.
In a post-divorce world, there are three things you need to consider:
It's not in the true holiday spirit to make the children sacrifice their holiday for the convenience of the parents. It should be the other way around. When obstacles present themselves, as they will, be prepared to give a little.
By staying flexible, you are role modeling conflict behavior for your children. This doesn't mean you have to completely give up everything you want or need. If your ex is truly making life difficult, it's appropriate to contact your attorney or schedule a meeting post-holiday so you can express your concerns and have them addressed legally to avoid future mishaps.
Nothing will torpedo the holiday season for the kids than having to listen to parents argue or being forced to choose sides in an eternal battle for loyalty. What is best for the children should be foremost in your mind, and that means avoiding conflict as much as possible.
As part of your custody arrangement, there shouldn't be questions concerning who gets the kids over the holiday. Stick to the agreement and notify your attorney if there is an issue. If you lost out on time this holiday season, you have the leverage to request more of it next year. Keep that in mind.
When it comes to giving gifts, try your best to collaborate with your ex so that there's not an arms race over who is giving the most expensive gifts. Also, someone has to be the adult in the room, so if one parent declares that a certain toy or gift is off-limits, that needs to be respected. The holidays are not a time to undermine the other parent.
Help your child pick out a gift for your ex. This lets them know very clearly that you want them to have a good relationship with your former spouse and that the divorce was between the adults, not the entire family.
Some divorced couples feel pressure to spend time together with the children. If you settled your divorce amicably and that's an option, feel free. However, if there's hostility between you and your ex, trying to force a friendly situation is not a good way to go. It's totally OK to spend a holiday apart and split time with the children.
When it comes to extended family, such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles, things can get tricky. There may be a situation where there are too many people wanting to spend time with the children for planning to be feasible. Bottom line: how much do you (and your relatives) love your children? Show that love by being flexible and open-minded.
We get asked frequently if the kids should be allowed to choose who they spend a holiday with? This primarily applies to teenagers, who also want to spend time with friends and may still be dealing with some extracurricular activities over holiday breaks. Here again, being flexible and operating with what is in their best interests is a good way to go.
Navigating the holidays with your children in a post-divorce world can be tricky, frustrating, and stressful. If you have concerns or need advice as to how to handle a particular situation with your ex, a great resource is your family attorney.
If you need help with a divorce case or want to make sure you get adequate time with your kids during the holiday season, contact Family Matters Law Group today via phone or with our online contact system. We've helped many clients across the Atlanta metro area have happy holidays with their kids and positive outcomes in their divorce and custody cases.