For many families divided by divorce, the winter holidays are not a time for comfort and joy. The atmosphere can more resemble something to be endured with gritted teeth and mumbled curses. But all that does is assure that your kids’ holiday memories will be marred by animosity and strife.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Read on for a few tips on how to sail through the shoals of the winter holidays without capsizing your children’s boat.
Recalibrate your holiday expectations
Chances are good that you will not have your children with you for the entirety of the December festivities — and that can be depressing to contemplate. However, it doesn’t have to put a damper on your spirits unless you allow it. The winter holidays don’t have to be celebrated on the exact days on which they fall. If your kids will be with their co-parent on the big day, arrange to take the kids to an earlier holiday parade. Set aside time with them to bake cookies, decorate the tree or spin the dreidel.
Embrace flexibility and compromise
Maybe your ex’s entire extended family is flying into Richmond this year for a blow-out celebration, but it’s your weekend to have the kids. Instead of refusing to allow them to spend time with beloved grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, make a deal with your ex to swap a few days of the holiday vacation. Come summertime when your own family reunion is on the horizon, you can use your willingness to compromise as a bargaining chip.
Remember, it’s not a competition
No matter what the relationship is between you and your ex, resist the urge to use holiday gifting to one-up your co-parent. This is especially important if there is a great disparity between your incomes. Many parents collaborate on holiday gifts and agree to have the most expensive and sought-after presents come from both mom and dad. The goal should be to rear happy and emotionally healthy kids, not see who can outspend the other.
Consider modifying your parenting plan
The holidays can make co-parents realize that their parenting plans are no longer working for them. If yours has become untenable, seek a modification of the parenting plan and make a fresh start in 2022.