Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year’s holiday are on the horizon, bringing into focus the yearly issue of the division of holiday parenting time. For parents and children of divorce, it can be a difficult and stressful time, as children get shuttled back and forth. Not only can children get a sense that it’s a competition, but the whole process can amplify the sense of loss that is part of divorce. Here are some tips to help make the holidays more joyful for everyone this year:
- Avoid the pressure to “win”: Unfortunately, too many parents of divorce try too hard to make certain their child’s time with them at Christmas or other holidays is “extra” memorable. This can get equated with the amount of money spent, the number, size and cost of gifts, and the extravaganza of the entire affair. Make certain that your children don’t get the message that money equals love, and that the more you spend on them, the more you love them. That’s not really a belief you want them to carry with them the rest of their lives.
- Make certain your child’s “best interests” are the priority: Work with your ex to make certain that your children have the opportunity to spend meaningful time with all of their loved ones, if possible. You may have to compromise, and you may not get as much time as you want, but try to give them as much time as they need with grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives of your ex.
- Plan your holidays far in advance: Children, especially younger ones, tend to have significant expectations about what the holidays will look like. If you alternate the major holidays, it’s really important that your children know this as early as possible, so that they don’t anticipate spending Christmas morning with mom, only to learn the day before that they will be with Dad.
- Be willing to change your plans: Situations always change. To the extent that you can compromise without always giving in, you can create a spirit of cooperation that is healthy for your children.
- Think about coordinating your children’s presents or activities to cooperate with your ex, if you can. Imagine the positive message it would send to your children if both parents went in together on a larger gift, or if both parents included the other’s extended relatives at an event. Studies show that the more parents can provide a unified positive front. The more likely it is that children grow into happy, healthy adults.
If you or someone you know has a question about holiday parenting time, call one of the skilled lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C.
Contact our office online or call us at 908-575-9777 to schedule a confidential consultation. Lyons & Associates, PC, serves the entire state of New Jersey including Somerville, Bridgewater, Somerset, Basking Ridge, Mendham and Morristown.