November 21, 2017 | By McCathern Law
The holidays are a time for happiness, family, good food, love, and togetherness. And as Andy Williams informed us back in 1963 – It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! But for some families, whether you are newly separated or already divorced, the holidays have the potential to be an emotionally draining and difficult time for both you and your children. With the holidays fast approaching, it is important to keep the following things in mind when it comes to co-parenting.
Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute.
It is important to plan ahead because, as we all know, the holidays can get hectic, fast. Make sure you have a schedule mapped out ahead of time for where the children will be spending their time. If you do not have a court order to follow, then try your best to work out the children’s holiday schedule with your ex-spouse in advance. Not only will this help you to avoid unnecessary last minute arguments, but having a plan in place will give the children comfort and provide some sense of stability during an otherwise chaotic time.
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
The last thing you may want to do right now is communicate with your ex, but when it comes to co-parenting, communication is key – especially during the holidays. Instead of trying to outdo or one-up the other parent, try coordinating with your ex on things such as Christmas gifts. Consider whether it would work best in your situation to avoid buying duplicates. For example, when it comes to Lego collectables, if one parent is buying the Star Wars X-Wing Fighter Lego collectible, then the other parent might buy the Star Wars Snowspeeder Lego collectible. Or if one parent is getting an Xbox for the child, the other parent might buy Xbox games. However every household is different and coordinated gifts might not be feasible in your situation. The key here is to put the children first and although it may be tempting, don’t compete with your ex and try to win the children over with large extravagant gifts.
Communicate with your ex about important parental decisions during this time, such as whether or not your 14 year old daughter is allowed to go on a 5 day ski trip with a group of older friends. If the child doesn’t get the desired answer from one parent, she will probably try again and might be successful with the other parent. If parents are not communicating with each other, these types of things might fall through the cracks. The more you are able to communicate with your ex, the smoother the exchanges and transition between households will go for the children over the holidays.
Fake it ‘Till You Make It.
The holidays are generally a time of happiness and joy and giving. Don’t forget about the holiday spirit when it comes to dealing with your ex. Be respectful and understanding. Plans change. Things come up. None of it is the end of the world. If you have to rearrange your plans by a few hours to accommodate a delayed flight, or a flat tire – be flexible. It will not do you or the children any good to get worked up over something that you have no control over. If for whatever reason you are not able to let it roll off your back, then do your best to smile in front of the children and fake it till you make it. You can scream into your pillow later. Your children should not have to hear you complain about how inconsiderate your ex is or how your ex has totally ruined Christmas! The children will pick up on these cues and the better your attitude is, the better their attitude will be.
Start New Traditions.
There may be activities and traditions that are no longer feasible in your new reality as a single parent – and that is okay. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself or the children by trying to follow the exact same plan of holidays past. If traditions that once included your ex aren’t workable, try to create new holiday traditions with the children. Give them something new to focus on and get excited about. Here are a few ideas and helpful links to get you started:
- Corn Maze
- Family day at a Paint Your Own Pottery studio
- Turkey Trot 5k
- Family talent show
- Take silly photos with an instant camera
- Bake cookies for your neighbors
- Christmas Tree Farm to pick out and cut down your own tree
- Look at big Christmas Light displays around your city
- Family volunteering project
If there are favorite traditions that you and the children really want to continue, try putting a new twist on the tradition to make it your own.
If you need legal guidance and assistance with your specific child custody situation, you are not alone. Don’t wait to talk to a family law attorney to find out what options you have. For more information on child custody issues and divorce in Texas, contact the experienced family law attorneys at McCathern, PLLC by calling 214-741-2662 to schedule a consultation.
Written by Kaitlin A. Capetillo