Whether it’s your first year or your tenth dealing with your ex during the holidays, it’s rarely easy. Every family suffering through a divorce or separation needs time to adjust, and the holidays offer unique challenges. This year you may be adjusting not only to your former spouse in the picture, but also to his or her new spouse. Fortunately, learning how to navigate family events peacefully can have a lasting, rewarding impact.
Listen to your child. When you have a child in the picture, what you and their other parent think about each other doesn’t matter. Asking your child for their preferences is important to build mutual respect and understanding. Stop talking and start listening to what your child wants this holiday season.
Show some respect. This means no bad mouthing, gossiping, or grumbling about the other parent. You can complain to your friends all you want, but never talk negatively about your ex in front of your kids. Allow your child to pass judgment about you, your ex, and any stepparents on their own—without your unsolicited opinion.
Follow the rules. While it may be tempting to say no to what the court ordered visitation says, it is really important to follow the rules. (Especially if your relationship with your ex is shaky.) Even if you don’t like giving your child up for the holidays, follow what the judge deemed appropriate. What your ex chooses to do with your kids during their time isn’t always what you would like or want. You have to let it go and let this happen. (Unless, of course, there’s a safety concern.)
It’s simple: Listen to your children, respect your ex and any new stepparents, and follow any applicable visitation rules. Dealing with your ex during the holidays shouldn’t be about you, your opinions, or your desires. Make holidays about family instead, and focus on your children’s safety and happiness.