Co-Parenting During the Holidays

In Child Custody, Parenting by Elizabeth Stephenson

Depending on your circumstances, holidays can be a strange mix of wonderful and terrible. They are great in that we have time off to spend with our families and loved ones. But they can also be times of loneliness and family conflict. Even for intact families, there are in-laws that battle over valuable time. When parents are separated or divorced, holiday visitation isn’t easy on anyone and these battles only intensify. This is why it is important to know what to expect during the holidays and to take the appropriate steps to foster an emotionally healthy holiday season for yourself, your children, and even your former partner.

  • The holidays will not be smooth or easy, and that is normal. Following a separation, everyone is adjusting to their new normal. It is alright to be sad and a little messy. Work hard to accept that change has occurred and to operate within this new framework.
  • Parenting plans and custody orders account for which parent the children spend their holidays with. Follow these orders. If you have no agreement or orders in place, speak with an attorney about negotiating an agreement or seeking custody orders.
  • Talk with your children about the holidays. Children need predictability, not surprises. Let them know what their holidays are going to be like, who they are spending holidays with, and when they are going. Help them address their fears and anxiety by listening to them.
  • Keep your commitments. Your children need stability and certainty. This means that if they are expecting to spend the holidays with you, don’t cancel these plans.
  • Communicate with the other parent as to your holiday plans and theirs, especially if you want to stray from the parenting plan. Be flexible with the holidays, as there will come a time when you want the favor returned.
  • We want our children to have warm memories of the holidays, not memories of their parents fighting. So avoid fighting with the other parent. Further, don’t disparage the other parent, and set ground rules for family members that your children will be around not to participate in an ex-bashing party. This has the consequence of making children choose sides, or carrying the guilt of not standing up for their other parent.

New Direction Family Law

New Direction Family Law handles family law matters, including separations, divorces, and child custody. With ten years of combined legal experience, our attorneys will provide you with thorough, compassionate legal advocacy through these turbulent times. Let us help you. We serve Wake, Johnston, Lee, Harnett, Cumberland, Nash, Granville, Franklin, and Durham counties. Contact New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 or reach us online.