The weather gets colder, you pull out all your sweaters, and the stores stock cute holiday decorations. ‘Tis the season! But, you might find yourself wondering how you’ll survive another holiday dealing with joint custody. Custody situations over the holidays can be stressful for both children and parents. Don’t rob yourself of the joy of the season; follow these tips to make joint custody easier for your family.
Tip 1: Establish a Plan
The holidays can be extremely difficult for children facing a joint custody situation. Having a plan in place can help them feel confident, and it allows them to know the schedule. Without it, children often get nervous or anxious that they won’t see one set of parents or that someone will feel left out.
Communicating with your ex is key to co-parenting success. Once you have a solid plan in place, allow the children and the other parent to communicate on your chosen holiday. This will help them feel that both parents were involved and not left out.
Word of Caution
Never let your child decide with whom to spend the holiday. This is unfair to children as it puts them in an uncomfortable situation of choosing between their parents. Their answer will surely leave one parent unhappy. It is best to decide for them, and allow them to enjoy the holidays without the stress.
Tip 2: Compromise With Your Ex
Your children look to you for support and direction during this season. It is extremely important that you keep the holidays light-spirited. You and your ex must compromise. For example, if one parent gets the children for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day while you get them for a week during Thanksgiving, then continue on those terms. Or if you have to put off going to see your side of the grandparents on New Year’s because your ex wants to take them to the movies New Year’s Eve, then plan to see them the day after or before. Any situation can be handled with little communication and compromise. Just remember, your child is looking to you to make sure that everything is okay, and you don’t want to put them in a stressful situation.
Word of Caution
When the situation between you and your ex is difficult, communication can often be strained. When you talk to your ex, keep your emotions under control and never argue in front of your children. Their father and mother are a big part of their life, and you want them to have their own mutual relationships and not one swayed by your feelings.
Tip 3: Create New Memories Around New Traditions
Building new traditions with your children can give them something to look forward to and get excited about over the holidays. It keeps them focused on what could be instead of what was. This type of thinking is helpful for the healing and the continuing positive development of your child.
Keep in Mind
It’s not always out with the old and in with the new. Continue your favorite traditions, too. If you used to bake cookies every Christmas Eve with your children, keep sharing that experience. Always allow your children to suggest or bring up old traditions that they may want to continue. This way, you are not reopening old wounds or memories that they may not want to focus on or remember yet.
Schedule Some Downtime
While you may personally be ready to go on exciting adventures with your children, they may want some time to relax. Going back and forth between both parents and all the activities can be exhausting. Give them some needed time to see friends or play with their toys or games. This allows them the chance to be themselves and enjoy being a child.
Put Your Child First
The holidays can be hard on the parents, but children will look to you for support. Make each visitation an easy transition that is built on understanding and compassion.
If you are currently going through a child-custody fight or a divorce, you are not alone. Alison Grant, Attorney At Law is dedicated to helping you achieve the best outcome that puts you and your family first. Contact her team today for more information about her services and for a consultation.