For divorcing parents and their children, the holidays can be especially stressful because decisions must be made about where and with whom children will spend their time. When parents have a high level of conflict between them it is even worse. Ideally, spouses could put aside their battles to come up with a solution that is best for their children. As hard as that may be, it is the best gift they could give their children.
There are various options for dealing with holiday parenting time. A recent article in Huffington Post provides some good suggestions, including alternating holidays, equally splitting the hours on the day of the holiday, and celebrating holidays twice (once on the actual day with one parent and again on another day with the other parent). The key is for parents to communicate with each other, be respectful and consider their children’s needs.
Some families are even able to get to a place point where they can share the holiday together. When parents can move past the conflict and cooperate in co-parenting their children, the whole family benefits. Unfortunately, this type of high-functioning relationship doesn’t happen often enough. Instead, more often, resentment continues long after the divorce is finalized.
The divorce process itself is part of the reason for the extreme conflict among spouses. Our culture celebrates the divorce war. Litigation forces spouses to be adversarial. They must win instead of compromise. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. An amicable divorce is possible. A collaborative divorce process, in particular, allows spouses to find a solution that works for them and their children with the assistance of financial, legal and mental health advisors. When parents come together in this way, they not only resolve their divorce, but they create a way to move forward and deal with family issues – like how to spend the holidays – in a respectful and cooperative way.
Choosing a divorce process is an individual decision. However, regardless of whether you choose collaborative divorce, mediation or litigation, the most important thing to remember is to do what is best for your children. This is an emotional time for them too. Try to find some peace during the holiday season. Your children will thank you for it.
Check out some more suggestions on dealing with the holidays on this site.
If you are thinking about divorce, contact me to discuss your options.