The holidays are a time for family gatherings, celebration and community, and for some children, it’s also a time when they get to see the parent who isn’t in their everyday life. As a collaborative divorce lawyer Wheaton, I have helped numerous clients prepare for their future, including having a solid plan for the holiday season.
So how can parents navigate this tricky situation that often stirs up feelings of anger or resentment? How can we make sure our children don’t feel like they’re being torn between two worlds or that one parent is trying to replace another? There are some things you can do to alleviate stress, enjoy the holidays, and make sure the kids have the best experience.
Be prepared to share your time and compromise during the holidays
If you are not already doing so, start a communication plan with your former partner. You likely already have a parenting schedule, so if adjustments need to be made for special events or activities, communication and compromise will be essential. As a parent who cares about his or her children, it’s important to remember that agreeing on holiday arrangements for the kids is one of the best ways to demonstrate how much you love and care about them.
Be thoughtful about gift giving
As you plan your time with your children, it can be helpful to think of gifts as an extension of that plan. If you have a gift-giving dinner with your children on a day when they will spend the night with their dad, consider buying something thoughtful for him, something that reflects his interests and hobbies. It’s always nice to do something special for the other parent when they’re spending time with the kids. Also, this is a good way to model to your children that just because you are divorced, doesn’t mean you cannot behave kindly towards one another.
If you are giving gifts to your child(ren), make sure those gifts reflect something special about them or your relationship. Don’t look at gift giving as a way to outdo or outspend the other parent. As a collaborative divorce lawyer Wheaton, I focus on making the process as amiable as possible. That way, when you experience these situations in the future where you have to work together, co-parenting will be less stressful.
Be positive about the holidays and their time with your former partner
- Don’t make negative comments about the other parent. This can be difficult, especially if you’re feeling frustrated and angry. But it’s important that you keep your thoughts to yourself and avoid saying anything negative about the other parent in front of your children.
- Avoid making negative comments about the other parent’s family or friends. Your kids should not hear you bad-mouthing their other relatives, and they don’t need to know that you don’t like their grandparents on the other side.
- Avoid talking negatively about the other parent’s lifestyle choices or career path. Your children may see this as an attack on them.
Avoiding negative talk about your former partner is really best for your children. No matter how you feel, they love that person and you want to make sure they do not feel bad about spending time with them. As a collaborative divorce lawyer Wheaton, I have seen how a positive relationship between co-parents can make children feel incredibly loved and supported.
If possible, try making plans with each parent individually so there isn’t too much time spent away from one another during this special time of year. Even if it means having dinner with one parent Tuesday night and again Thursday night they may need it during the holiday season. Any positive interaction you can help create will help your child enjoy the magic of the holidays.
Help your child process their feelings
The holiday season can be a difficult one for children of divorce. For some, it’s an opportunity to navigate extraordinary family dynamics while helping a child feel loved and cared for by both parents.
In these circumstances, it’s important to remember that every child is different and will have their own unique response to the holidays. Some children may struggle with feelings of sadness, loneliness or anger when they see their family celebrating without them. The most important thing is not trying to control how your child feels, but rather let them know how much you love them no matter what happens between you two as parents.
You can make the holidays enjoyable for everyone – collaborative divorce lawyer Wheaton
When you focus on your children first, the holidays will be more enjoyable for everyone. What’s best for your children is not placing them in a loyalty bind. You do not want them to feel guilty about loving either of their parents. Of course it would be wonderful for them and you to be around your extended family. Of course it would be great if you could trick-or-treat with them or take them to the tree lighting, or that New Year’s Eve concert. However, what is best for the kids is to not have their parents fighting with one another.
As a collaborative divorce lawyer Wheaton, I know that you can make the holidays a better experience for your children. By taking the time to plan ahead and think about these issues with your former partner, you’ll be able to avoid many of the pitfalls of divorce during this difficult time.