Holidays can be stressful times even for families in which two parents reside together. Co-parenting during the holidays can cause unique challenges, especially if the divorce happened relatively recently. However, for the sake of your children, you and your co-parent need to put aside your differences and cooperate to make the holidays pleasant for your children.
Successful holiday co-parenting does not happen by accident. It involves open communication and careful planning beforehand. Here are some important considerations to make:
1. Minimize drama
Avoid situations that could lead to increased tension. For example, it is important for children to spend time with the extended family on both sides during the holidays. However, if your relatives cannot behave civilly toward your co-parent, avoid any contact between them.
2. Talk about traditions
Holidays can be a particular challenge after a divorce because the traditions you have made as a family must undergo some modification. However, this also allows your family to create some new traditions, which can be a positive and fun experience.
Talk to your kids about what traditions are important to them and that they would like to see continue. Also, try asking them if there is something new that you have not done before but that they would like to experience. This could form the basis of a new tradition.
3. Be aware of your children’s feelings
Holidays after divorce can be difficult for everyone, but that is often especially true for children. The emphasis on family togetherness can make children feel lost and displaced when not all family members are present. The fact that you and your ex-spouse are still learning how to co-parent can complicate matters, as well.
Be sensitive to your children’s feelings. Allow them to feel what they feel. There is a difference between trying to make the holidays happy and trying to make your children happy for the holidays. Try to avoid making the situation worse with confrontation or conflict between you and your co-parent.
Above all, try not to become discouraged if things do not go just as you planned. Holiday co-parenting gets easier with practice.