Holidays are fun for everyone, but they are often particularly important to young and school-age children. Kids may look forward to seeing family members, exchanging gifts or eating special holiday foods all year round.
Your family probably has its own special traditions and practices that you hope your children will share with their own kids someday. Unfortunately, parental separations and divorces can drastically change how a family celebrates the holidays. Instead of everyone getting together, the children may now only see one of their parents.
Even worse, given all the stress parents experience around the holidays, there’s a good possibility that you and your ex could get into an argument or snap at one another in front of the children when you exchange custody. How do you prevent co-parenting conflicts from ruining the holidays for your kids?
Communication and planning
As hard as it is to make the holidays magical, it is even harder to coordinate a festive experience between two separate households. However, that is what parents have to do after they separate. Your parenting plan should address how you divide the holidays.
If you want to deviate from the specific terms in your parenting plan at all, you want to communicate with your ex as soon as possible. Being honest with one another about your plans, the timetable for the holidays and even the menu you intend to serve can help both of you offer the best possible experience for your children. Coordination is particularly important when it comes to presents and extended family gatherings.
Try to apply some holiday spirit to your relationship with your ex
You may have very good reason to have negative feelings toward your ex, but that doesn’t mean you have to let those feelings run the show on the holidays. The holidays can be a time to forgive or to rebuild old relationships. It could be a time for you to stop looking at your ex as a terrible spouse and instead start thinking of them as a co-parent who loves your children.
Especially if your children are young, you might want to help them make something or give them a small allowance so that they can buy a present for their other parent. If there were certain traditions that you always shared on the holidays, you may want to preserve them and even include your ex in things like the official lighting of the Christmas tree.
Thinking about what would make the children the happiest is a good standard to apply when making holiday plans after a separation. Keeping the right planning and attitude while sharing custody will help your children see the positive sides of this big change.