The 2016 holiday season is officially here. While usually a chaotic (but joyous!) time, the holidays can bring about additional challenges for divorced couples as they try to figure out how to juggle co-parenting responsibilities during this festive time of year. To help alleviate potential problems, the staff at Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. have compiled their top co-parenting strategies for the holiday season.
Alternate Holidays Each Year
A common strategy divorcing couples implement is to alternate which parent the children will spend time with on a specific holiday. In fact, this strategy is so popular that former Hollywood it-couple Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon have practiced it since they divorced 2008. In an interview with Today, Phillippe said, “We trade off. So last year my kids and I went to my parents’…, (and) this year they will be with their mom”.
The first Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or Christmas after a divorce can be very difficult for children. They may feel anxiety over which parent to celebrate with, while also not wanting to hurt the other parent’s feelings. This is why alternating holidays can be such a successful strategy. Doing so will allow children to have a less stressful, and more joyous, holiday season.
Focus on Communication
The key to successful co-parenting is communication. This rings especially true during the holiday season. In order to implement the strategy discussed above, both parents need to work together to create a fair schedule.
In addition to outlining a holiday schedule, it is important to keep the lines of communication open in case there are any last minute changes that would affect the plans. Both parents must be available via phone, text, or email, to receive word of uncontrollable travel changes, due to weather, traffic, or illness.
As always, it is important that divorcing parents have a communication strategy hammered out prior to the holiday season. Some former couples are unable to communicate or interact over the phone or in person, so downloading a co-parenting app is highly encouraged. These apps can even benefit amicable parents, as they feature shared contacts, calendars, and notepads.
Parents Pick Schedules
To avoid conflict, and feelings of guilt in children, parents need to be the main driving force behind holiday visitation schedules. While it is important to let children have some say in activities, they shouldn’t be the ones to decide who they will spend time with on Thanksgiving, or whose house they will go to for Christmas. Parents should never put the weight of such a burden on a child, as it is not in their best interest.
Parents need to take special care while discussing plans with their children if this is this the first holiday season in which a child will have to split his or her time between households. Kids may feel anxious and nervous, but also guilty and sad because they don’t want mom to be alone on Thanksgiving. Children need the reassurance that they are not hurting their other parent’s feelings, and that they are going to have a very enjoyable time, regardless of which side of the family they are with.
Enjoy the Season!
Enjoying the holiday season is just as important as the three co-parenting strategies discussed previously. It can be easy to get lost in a divorce, focusing on negative emotions such as anger, sadness, and grief. Children are intuitive, and will often pick up on how their parents are feeling.
Instead of dwelling on a divorce, both parents should take steps to help making the holiday season enjoyable and memorable. Continue with family traditions, such as picking out a Christmas tree, or spending the first night of Hanukkah with Grandma and Grandpa. Following holiday traditions can provide children with a sense of normalcy, and can also help foster feelings of happiness in parents.
Some newly divorced parents choose to create new holiday traditions with their children, independently of their former spouse. Children will carry the memories and holiday traditions of their childhood with them throughout their adult life. The small moments with their parents are what they will cherish most, so make the best of a tough situation and use divorce as an opportunity create lasting impressions.
Regardless of how stressful a divorce may be, or how hurt one may feel over the separation, a serious attempt at enjoying the holiday season needs to be made. Parties, shopping, and other festivities can be a great distraction from the stresses of a legal action, so get out there and have fun!
NYC Divorce Powerhouse
The law firm of Brian D. Perskin and Associates P.C. is a New York City based divorce and family law powerhouse. The team of experienced attorneys routinely represent New Yorkers navigate the waters of complex child custody and divorce matters, tirelessly advocating on their behalf. For more information, or to find out how their aggressive representation can work for you, call 718-875-7584 to schedule a free consultation.