The holiday season is a time of year that many children (and adults) look forward to. With school breaks, family festivities and traditions, and out of state travel, this time can also raise issues between parties in divorce or family matters regarding with whom the children should be, where they should be, and when they should be there.
Children who are experiencing a shift in the family dynamic due to divorce or separation might not experience this holiday season the same way they did in years before. The many changes that occur during the first holiday season while separation or divorce is pending is likely to be difficult for children.
With that in mind, parents can help make this transition less stressful for children.
While you may not currently be in the most amicable or comfortable place with your co-parent, for the sake of your children think about the traditions they love most when crafting your holiday and special occasion parenting plan. If that means your ex has the children for an extra overnight during a holiday that the children have historically enjoyed with your ex or his family, consider keeping that tradition in place this year.
It is also helpful to have a conversation about gift giving with your coparent. While its understandable to want to ‘make it up to’ your children during this transition time by purchasing extravagant gifts and items to cheer them up, or in an attempt to garner favor with your children by trying to one up your ex on gifts, do your best to resist this feeling.
Coordinate with your coparent what gifts you’ll be giving your children so that each parent does not purchase the same item. Further, separation and divorce has likely placed a strain on the family finances, so keeping within your historical family gift budget is adviseable. While the urge may be strong to use material objects to buy your children’s love and affection this year, that tactic won’t work long term, may cause unrealistic expectations on the part of your children, and may create unhealthy habits going forward.
Your kids need to spend time with all their loved ones during this special time of year to create happy memories. Encourage them to enjoy the holiday season no matter what you and your spouse are going through.