Tips for Divorced Parents when Co-Parenting through the Holidays

The holidays can be a very stressful time for some people, when you’re divorced and trying to share custody of children it can be even more so.   Over the years our attorneys have handled over a thousand divorce and custody matters, here are some tips to make the holidays more enjoyable for yourself and more importantly, your children:

Most importantly, put your children’s wishes first.  It may sound simplistic but divorced parents often have difficulty in this area.  It is easy to be more focused on “my time” with the children rather than stepping back and asking yourself what your children would want most for a particular holiday.

Attempt to spend the holiday together.  The first Christmas morning is always the most difficult for newly divorced parents and children.  If possible, try be together on Christmas morning so both parents get to enjoy watching the children open gifts from Santa.  And when it comes to gifts from Santa, share the cost.  It’s bad enough Santa gets the credit for all the cool gifts on Christmas morning, it stings twice as much when one parent has to foot the entire cost of all the gifts.  Spend some time with your ex and go over a list of what the children want and coordinate who is going to by what gifts, that way the cost is shared and you won’t get duplicate gifts.

 

Celebrating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day when Divorced

Going through a divorce can be a difficult time for any family. This time of year can make things even more stressful, with all of the upcoming holidays and summer celebrations reminding everyone that things have changed.

This is especially true with the approach of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  No matter how difficult your divorce may be, it’s important to remember what Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are really about – making children feel good about doing special things for their parents.

As tough as it may be, this is not a time for either parent to refuse to let their children spend time with the other parent on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day – even if it’s not technically “his or her weekend” to have the children. Not only does this stance truly take away from an important experience for the children, but it certainly can enrage any judge assigned to your case and make you look unreasonable and uncooperative.

Parenting time should never be about “your” time; it’s about the children’s time with their mom and dad, and keeping their lives as close to the way it would have been had their parents remained together.

The Honorable Catherine Sabaitis, Ret, former First Justice of the Plymouth County Probate and Family Court in Massachusetts, was known to remind parents that there is no such thing as “your time,” especially in instances where one parent is denying parenting time to the other on special occasions such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  Her words emphasize the point that the best interest of the children should always come first, and this includes spending at least some time with their each of their parents on their respective special days.

While you may not like your ex, he or she is still the parent of your children and they should never be prohibited from participating in any special days or holiday traditions.

Divorces are messy enough for children. Help make life for the children a little easier by separating your feelings about your ex from their feelings about their other parent. It’s important to set a good example for them by helping them prepare for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day by making cards and gifts for their mom or dad, or helping them to plan out their special day. Helping the children do something special for their other parent can go a long way in easing this difficult transition for the children, and it can help strengthen the co-parenting relationship between the parties.