If this is your first holiday season separated from your children’s other parent, you are likely anxious about how you will share the holidays with your children. If you are in the beginning stages of divorce or custody litigation and there is no court order in place, the following tips will help to preserve peace, sanity, and/or evidence, as may be necessary!
1. Live by “What goes around comes around.” If the other parent is being too grabby with time with the children, be sure to document how parenting time is divided over the holidays this year. Later, you can ask the Court to order that the schedule simply switch for next year or the next holiday. Likewise, don’t try to squeeze the other parent out of the children’s holiday plans or you might find yourself having too little time with your children later to make up for it. The best schedule is one that allows children to spend time celebrating the holidays with each parent and their extended families who may only gather at this special time of year.
2. Consider using an app for co-parenting. An app designed for co-parenting, such as Our Family Wizard, can provide a convenient and secure platform to keep calendars and correspondence organized and preserved for review by your attorney or any other professional who may assist in resolution of your parenting matters. This will avoid the need to screenshot piecemeal text messages or search through numerous email threads to try to prove what was agreed to or who may be in the wrong if a dispute arises.
3. Children follow parents’ leads. When you (and hopefully your children’s other parent) display a positive attitude about your children spending time with their other parent, you are giving your children permission to enjoy that time without guilt. Many parents say that their children don’t want to go with the other parent, believing that the Court will accept the children’s expressed reluctance as genuine. In fact, it is quite common that children who say that they don’t want to go with their other parent are in a “loyalty bind” and don’t feel comfortable being honest with one or both parents about their true needs.
The time you spend celebrating the holidays with your children will be special regardless of whether you celebrate on the actual holiday or sometime before or after. The best gifts you can give your children are amicable co-parenting and permission to enjoy the time and affection lauded on them by both of their parents and their families who love them.