Dealing with divorce and separation can be tricky around the holidays, especially when children are involved. Kids may focus on their memories of Christmases past and struggle with their emotions as they adjust to the way their lives have changed this year. Rather than allowing the holiday season to become filled with anger, resentment, sadness, and stress, it is your duty as a parent to generate excitement for this season, giving the gift of joy to both your children, and even to your ex, by creating a parenting time arrangement that works for everyone.
Here are a couple of tips for making that possible:
Do Not Make Children Choose
You and your spouse may disagree about who gets to have parenting time on Christmas Day. Perhaps you cannot come to a civil agreement, because the holiday is equally important to each of you. Whatever you do, do not put the burden of choice on your children. Holiday parenting schedules should be outlined in your parenting time agreement to avoid any confusion.
Your children have bravely endured the changes that come with their parents’ separation, and the last thing that they will want is to choose between the two people they love most in the world. Even if they do have a preference, they may feel uneasy about disclosing their choice, because they do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Parents should work to create a holiday parenting time arrangement and make sure children understand how time will be divided between parents.
One example of a co-parenting holiday arrangement is: one parent gets to spend time with the children on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, while the other parent has the kids during the evening for a family Christmas dinner. In some cases, parents may be able to put aside their differences aside for the sake of the kids and enjoy the day together. The latter option should only be considered if you and your ex can be civil for extended periods.
Begin New Traditions
In the past, your kids may have received holiday pajamas on Christmas Eve and enjoyed hot chocolate and candy canes, followed by family photos of everyone wearing matching pajamas on Christmas Day. Attempting to recreate these types of family traditions after your separation without the participation of the other parent can result in confusion and difficult emotions for children. To avoid this, you should try to get creative as you forge new holiday memories. This year, come up with new traditions, such as dressing in your pajamas and going caroling, reading by the fireplace, or watching holiday movies with some popcorn.
Contact a DuPage County Family Law Attorney
If you are currently going through a separation or divorce and are having trouble determining a parenting agreement that works for both you and your ex-spouse, a Wheaton divorce lawyer can help. At Andrew Cores Family Law Group, we have helped many families reach agreements that work for their situation, and we can do the same for you. Schedule your free initial consultation by calling our office at 630-871-1002.