You may remember those early holidays with the kids. With a schedule in mind, your family attended church services together, arrived at Grandma’s for an afternoon feast, and perhaps darted to other holiday gatherings throughout the week. While those may have been hectic days, you may give anything to have them back.
The holidays after a divorce can be difficult for parents, especially if a custody arrangement does not allow those early traditions to continue. You may be grieving the loss of those memories as well as the breakup of your family, and certainly, you are feeling the emotions of having to divide the time you get to spend with your children. While the holidays may never be the way you imagined, there are ways you can get through them and retain some of the joy.
Don’t be a Grinch
Child advocates cannot overemphasize the importance of minimizing the pressure parents place on their children by putting them in the middle of any custody issues that arise over the holidays. As much as you want to spend time with the children, they want to be with both of their parents as well. By asking the children to choose or expressing your negative feelings about the custody schedule, you may unintentionally build more conflict for them.
Instead, make the most of the time you have with them. Remain as positive as possible with your co-parent and demonstrate the spirit of the holiday, especially in front of the children. Some ways you can show this spirit include the following:
- Be flexible about the schedule, especially if your ex’s relatives are visiting from out-of-town. Your generosity may earn you the same treatment.
- Make your plans with your ex as specific as possible including pickup and drop off times to avoid misunderstandings that may lead to arguments.
- Try to make your schedule with your ex as far ahead as you can so the children will know what to expect.
- If you have the children on Christmas Eve or another important holiday, allow them to call the other parent to share their joy.
- On the days when you do not have the children, make sure to have plans for yourself to avoid spending the time alone and sad.
You may decide to make these adjustments so the holidays will be as peaceful as possible for your children. However, if you ex refuses to cooperate or violates court-ordered custody arrangements, you may need to seek assistance from an Arizona family law professional for more formal decisions about your holiday plans.