The holiday season can be the toughest time of year for divorced parents. Even if you’ve worked out a holiday/winter break custody schedule, if you’re not with your child for special days like Christmas and New Years, it can be lonely and depressing – even if you’re not alone.
One thing that many co-parents learn is that holidays don’t have to be just about the day. That’s an important thing to remember if you don’t have your child on a holiday, whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas or their birthday. You can celebrate the holiday whenever you do have them. Most kids don’t mind having multiple celebrations.
Putting your child’s best interests first
Whatever holiday schedule you work out, make sure your child knows what it is. As kids at school discuss their holiday and vacation plans, no child wants to have to say they don’t know where they’ll be because their parents are still arguing about it.
No matter how you feel about having to share your child’s time with your ex, don’t let that affect your child’s enjoyment of the season. That means helping them shop for a gift for their other parent and others on that side of the family, for example (whether your co-parent does the same for you or not).
It also means letting them talk about and share pictures of their celebration with their other parent with you – as well as their gifts. Parents who restrict where their kids can play with or use their gifts are only hurting their child.
The importance of making plans of your own
If the thought of being away from your child for part of the holiday season has you feeling lost or sad, you can use this opportunity to make plans with others – whether family, friends or others who like to spend the holiday season volunteering. You con also take some time for yourself – whether at home or away. If you feel good about your plans, you’re less likely to resent what you might be missing.
If things aren’t as you want them this year, you may want to consider seeking some modifications to your custody agreement and parenting plan for next year. If you haven’t yet finalized those, this season can give you a better idea of what to work toward in the future.