Whether you’re headed for divorce or split from your ex years ago, the holidays can be a mixed bag of emotions for parents sharing a child with an ex. The first thing to know is you will get the hang of it, even if you’re already dreading your first Thanksgiving, Christmas or Kwanza without the “family” together as you once knew it.
The first thing to remember is that you still have a family! Some of the logistics will likely change, if they haven’t already. But several tactics can help the newly divorced through the holiday season. To summarize some common examples:
- Determine parenting schedules ahead of time.
- Prioritize children’s best interests.
- Compromise with one another.
- Heal yourself with new traditions of your own.
Step One: Get Your Schedules Straight
The usual custody and visitation schedule may not apply when it comes to an upcoming holiday, whether it’s a day or a week off from school. When it comes to those longer holidays, in particular, parents will often travel to see family and relatives. Some recently divorced parents may opt to visit friends instead if the strain of a holiday seems too overwhelming or if their children will be with their ex’s family.
Does your existing custody arrangement address the upcoming holiday schedule? If not, the first step you’ll want to take is to work it out ahead of time (and involve your attorney if necessary). These conversations can be trying at first, but they’re an opportunity to tackle lingering issues related to education and other parenting responsibilities before people get too busy to focus on them.
The upcoming holiday season holds a special significance for many families. This year, take steps with the whole family’s wellbeing in mind, especially that of the children, so that no one ends up feeling disappointed or left out of the festivities.
Channel Any Anxiety into Positive Action
Let’s face it: the holiday season can be challenging for happily married people, too. All that planning, shopping and possible financial strain can build up when you have kids. Many people are finding it necessary to prepare mentally for this time of year before it arrives. You may need to adjust some of your expectations in order to avoid disappointment. Keep in mind when experiencing difficult emotions that your kids might be going through a similar transition. Encourage them to express themselves and let them know the changes happening around them are not their fault and won’t ever change how you feel about them.
Need help negotiating with your former partner about custody or visitation arrangements? Even during an amicable breakup, letting go of cherished holiday traditions may bring up some residual sadness. Anger or resentment about the relationship is not uncommon either. Try to keep what is best for your children in mind and channel any negativity into creating a fun and unique holiday season for the little ones. When pain or anger arise, pause and try to shift your focus onto something positive – a fun afternoon out with the kids, for instance, or a self-care day with your friends.
Be prepared to make some compromises, as well. If your co-parent will be taking the kids this holiday season, perhaps that is an opportunity to discover new passions and interests. Some newly single people opt to spend a holiday with extended family or friends they don’t normally see, or they take the day to spend time with themselves.
Get Help with Parenting Issues from a Qualified Family Lawyer in Illinois
The holidays can bring a mixed bag of feelings, and it’s important to try to take care of your mental and physical health. Once you get a handle on what to expect, important holidays can still be fun and meaningful.
That road to the holiday season can be smoother if lines of communication are kept open – not just with your ex (if you’re on speaking terms), but with an attorney if you need help in some of these areas or you want to discuss what steps will help ensure a desired outcome in your family law case. At the Law Office of David A. King, P.C., we have the resources, tools, and experience to walk you through the legal process and help you determine the best path forward.
To get assistance creating or modifying a custody or allocation agreement or help with your shared parenting time on holidays, contact the Law Office of David A. King, P.C. You can schedule a consultation with a family law attorney serving areas throughout DuPage County today.