Divorce, Parenting Time and the Holidays

Divorce Law


In short:

Please, don’t be a jerk.

At this time of year, divorce lawyers all over the land are reeling under the weight of frantic phone calls from clients who are fighting with exes over parenting time during the holidays.  Special traditions are sacred to everyone, and you want to be the one that carries them on for your child…and so does your ex.  Unless that ex is abusive, your children probably are torn between wanting to be with either of you and secretly really wishing all of you were together again. Particularly if this is the first year of separation, your children are trying to piece together whatever normalcy they can…help them.

  1. Don’t be stingy with time.  Both parents should have time with the children over the holidays.
  2. Don’t make it about you. If your kids have a chance to do an awesome meal with extended family and cousins they love but you want them home just cause you want them home, think about what they want.  Now, this year is a little different because of COVID restrictions, so of course there are caveats to this….but do think about opportunities your children will have for the most fun, the most joy this season.
  3. In the year of COVID, BOTH parents need to be considerate. If you don’t think it’s a big deal, but your ex does…honor their wishes to have a higher level of safety during the holiday season.  How would you feel if your actions led to your children being deprived of a parent for a few weeks, months, or a lifetime? Maybe you don’t like your ex anymore, but they love them.
  4. Children care about the tradition, but not about the timing. Opening presents under the tree, singing together, sharing a special meal, watching favorite movies cuddled up on the couch…whatever your family tradition if you can’t do it on a particular date and time, do it another date and time.  Maintain the traditions, but the timing doesn’t matter to children.  They just want to be with you and experience what they love.
  5. Manage your own self care.  It’s okay that you’re struggling and maybe you don’t feel like doing holidays this year. Do what you can for them, but don’t worry about making those batches of cookies you hate making if you can find some other fun thing that they will like that takes less mental and physical energy if you aren’t up to it. Preserve what’s most important to the kids …and if you don’t know what that is ask them, you might be surprised.  Some of the extra stuff may not be important to them and may save you a lot of money, stress and time.
  6. Communicate.  Communicate with the other parent about how to make this a great holiday for the kids. Communicate with the kids about their feelings. Communicate with your lawyer about what you need. Communicate with your family and friends about how to help.  Reach out.
  7. Remember, this is not the only holiday that will ever be.  If this is a “best you can do” holiday, there’s always next year.
  8. But try to enjoy. This season of your life will pass as the holidays will.

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