Attorney, Cordell & Cordell
Living in two homes, new schedules and spending time away from a parent are hard enough for kids dealing with divorce. These stresses seem to amplify during the holidays, especially if parents are fighting over who spends the most holiday time with the kids.
Here are five tips to help make your holiday less stressful and a truly memorable time for your children.
1. It’s not about you
Parents want to spend time with their children on the holidays. Holidays are a special time of year, filled with love, laughter, and memories. Everything you do around the holidays will become part of your child’s holiday experience and memories. Every action you take should put your children’s interests in front of your own.
Parents who are in a power struggle over who gets Christmas Eve and who gets Christmas morning, and fighting in front of the kids, are dampening the holiday spirit in the youngsters.
Try not to discuss the in and outs of holiday time juggling around the kids. Let them be carefree.
2. Plan Ahead
Most parents already have a court-ordered parenting time schedule. If you do not have a specific plan, contact your former spouse well before the holidays to work out arrangements for how the children will spend the holiday.
Calmly explain your holiday plans, and give your former spouse time to explain their plans. Be creative and try to find a way that will allow everyone to get important, quality time with the kids.
3. Be Flexible
Whether your holiday parenting time is court ordered or not, be flexible. Dates are important to adults, not to kids.
Celebrating Christmas on Christmas Day may be important to you, but most kids won’t know what day it is if there is holiday music, gifts and family time. Kids don’t focus on the date of the holiday; they focus on the holiday experience.
If you can celebrate the holiday on an off date, it may make it easier to reach an agreement on a holiday parenting time schedule. It also may make it easier for extended family to join in the celebration. Most people have much more free time the day after Christmas, than on Christmas Day.
4. Make the most of what you have
Focus on the time you are actually spending with your kids, and make it high quality.
Create a new family tradition, or family memory, that will have the kids looking forward to their special holiday time with you. Bake cookies, make ornaments, or cook meals together.
When your kids are adults they will remember these special times much more than the gifts you gave them, or which day you celebrated the holiday. When the kids are not with you, enjoy your free time to catch up with your family or to spend quality time with others in your life.
Even the best plans will hit a road bump along the way. Communicate with your former spouse regarding any changes in plans or accommodations that need to be made.
Communicate with them as soon as they arise so that adjustments can be made well in advance and the kids won’t even notice the hiccup in the plans.
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Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.
One comment on “How To Avoid Holiday Disasters”
My ex was given three weekends a month, rotating holidays and weeks during the summer. He has recently moved in with a new girlfriend and does not seem to want to be a parent right now. He has had weekends where he has made other plans and just not shown to pick them up. He was supposed to have them for the first week of their winter break but he brought them home after three days and said that he didn’t want to deal with them. I’m tired of them being hurt because their dad doesn’t want the time that he was given with them and I’m tired of not being able to make plans because I don’t know if he is actually going to take them during his allotted time. His parenting seems to be optional and only when it’s convenient for him. Can I get his visitation greatly reduced so it is less stressful for our kids and myself?