Sharing custody of your children is never easy, but it can be particularly difficult – and painful – during the holiday season. Whether or not it’s your turn to see your child’s eyes light up on Christmas morning, or share the fun of the eighth night of Hanukkah, there are a few things you can do to make the holidays a special and positive experience for your children.
Remember that it’s not about you.
Yes, when you got divorced, that was about you. But custody issues should be focused on the kids’ needs and welfare. Don’t go into the holiday season with tunnel vision because of past resentment or hurts. Your child is a person, not a prize; so try to put yourself in his or her place when you’re making tough decisions.
Sure, you may have a few non-choice words to say about your ex or your children’s other parent. But speaking badly about your child’s parent – whom he or she loves – will only put a negative light on an otherwise happy, joyful time of year. Keep the dialogue happy and positive – even when talking about your ex.
If you don’t already have a holiday custody arrangement in place, go into your negotiations with a fair and open mind. Don’t expect your ex to give up Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with the kids, for example. Try to determine what’s most fair to your ex and, especially to the kids.
Remember their schedule.
While you might be busy worrying about your own schedule, keep in mind that the kids have a schedule of their own. Take their school calendar into consideration, along with any sports or extracurricular activities in which they might participate. If they have friends that they’d like to spend their winter vacation with, take that into consideration too.
Don’t wait until Christmas Eve to decide on a schedule, or hope that you can fudge the agreed-upon arrangement when the time comes. Instead, determine the custody schedule well in advance, and then stick to it.
Start a new tradition.
If it’s one of your first years celebrating a holiday without your ex, you’ll find that the new family dynamic can disturb prior traditions. Don’t be afraid to forge new traditions with your kids; in fact, it’s a lot of fun to let them help decide what they’ll be!
From all of us to you and yours, we hope you have a beautiful (and cooperative!) holiday season.