Even for families who have not experienced a divorce, the holidays can bring all types of personal and emotional highs, lows and struggles. However, for families who are in the process of a divorce or dealing with the aftermath of a divorce in Colorado, this time of the year certainly brings some unique challenges. In this post as well as one that will follow, we provide some concrete ways to minimize the stress for your family and keep your focus on the welfare of your children.
Agree Upon Timesharing Now – Have you and your co parent agreed upon how your children will spend the upcoming holiday season with each of you? Experts recommend that parents should agree to a specific parenting time schedule over significant holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah. Once agreed upon, this schedule ordinarily alternates each year so that both parents have the same periods of time with the children in alternating years.
In crafting this holiday parenting plan you should be specific with regards to times for pickup and drop off of the children (i.e. instead of “Thanksgiving”, the Agreement should state “the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day at 6:00 p.m. until the following Sunday at 6:00 p.m.”) Also, do not forget to consider caretaking for the children during their long holiday breaks from school – who will be responsible for their supervision during this time and are parents required to share itineraries with each other for out of town trips with the children?
Having a concrete plan in place beforehand regarding these issues will reduce the stress for you, your children and your extended family. If your parenting plan does not include specifics on these issues, now is the time to meet with your co parent and agree upon the specifics for this upcoming holiday season.
It’s About the Children – Not spending time with our children during the holidays sucks – there is no other way to describe it. However, that does not mean that you should put your needs in front of your children’s needs during this difficult time. In most families, this means that children want to spend time with both parents during the holidays and this should be accommodated for their well being. Ultimately, your Agreement should allow for some meaningful time for your children with both parents during the holidays.
In addition, your Agreement should also reference the reasonable expectations for communication between co parents as well as between children and parents during extended out of town vacations. It is important for children to know and feel the love and support they seek from both parents, especially during the holidays. Promoting and supporting open and unfettered communication between children and parents is very important during the holiday season. Absent extenuating circumstances, children should be able to communicate with an absent parent in private and in a developmentally appropriate manner. Those phone calls or facetime sessions need not be long but they should be prioritized and supported by both parents.
This time of the year can be difficult but it does not have to be overwhelming. With some advanced discussion and planning, you can eliminate the emotional chaos and focus your time and energy on your children.