When you start a family, it’s hard imagining anything but that perfect, happy moment when you’re all opening presents beneath the tree. Sadly, divorce and separation is a reality for many families during the holiday season. If you’re one of them, it’s important to plan accordingly so that you can have a safe, warm holiday.
Practice acceptance. You’re going to have to share. Your child was created with the help of another human being. You may feel closer to your child, and you may even feel like the better parent (and hey, that may be true), but you still have to share. It is a disservice to your child to pretend that other person doesn’t exist. The sooner you accept this, the easier the holidays will be.
Respect the entire family. It’s not just about sharing your children’s time with your ex—there are grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins to consider, too. Remember that it’s important to give your child the time to celebrate with their whole family.
Follow the rules. While it may be tempting to say no to what your 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.)
Communicate about gifts and events. Openly communicate about what you’re planning to gift to your children. (And, whose house Santa is visiting.) You also need to ensure that everyone is aware of school parties, community events, or extracurricular activities in which your children are scheduled to participate. These little things can make or break your relationship comfort during the holidays.
Setting aside your own desires is the biggest struggle when co-parenting, especially during the holidays. It’s understandable that you’d want the entire holiday without interruption, but it’s crucial that you share time with others. Set a great example of communication and flexibility for your children as you navigate the holidays—with their other parents involved.