Holidays are special for everyone, and especially for children. It can be challenging to have a healthy co-parenting relationship with your ex - especially if this is the first year of your divorce or separation. After all, they are your ex for a reason. When children are involved, it is crucial to maintain a relationship with the person you no longer want to live with in the same home, and develop good co-parenting relationships so that both you and your children can enjoy the holidays with minimal divorce stress and disruption, and you can build new memories with your child.
So, how do you maintain a calm relationship with your co-parent during the holidays? The first and foremost rule is to understand that the children need to know that both parents love them.
Here are some tips on co-parenting during the holidays but think about what works best for you and your co-parent - and what is best for your children.
5 Tips to Successfully Co-Parent During the Holidays
1. Set a schedule
You may already have a schedule in place from your parenting plan. An agreed-upon calendar can form a solid routine, and all adults agreeing with this will make the holidays flow smoother.
But this does not mean that there is no flexibility within the plan. Changes always arise, grandparents show up unexpectedly, or someone gets ill. Have a plan but understand that it may need a little sway now and then.
2. Maintain open communication
You’ll need to keep in contact with the children and the other adults during the holidays, and open communication is the best way to keep everyone informed and keep the peace.
Holidays can be stressful, especially if this is one of the first holidays since the separation. It is also a good idea to have a disciplinary plan when the children begin to act out. This is a plan that both parents should agree upon and be consistent between both of you.
3. Don’t manipulate
The holidays are not the time to ‘get back’ at your ex. Do not try to keep the kids with you for the sole purpose of hurting the other person. The holidays should be a happy time for your children, not a time to use them as pawns.
Never use your children to manipulate the other parent. Just because you may not love your ex does not mean you should take that away from the children. Don’t be that person.
4. Make new traditions
Since everything is changing, now is the perfect time to make new traditions with or without your co-parent. Some ideas are:
- New holiday decorations - consider ones that are either handmade or store-bought. Ones that the children will enjoy and be able to remember the holidays fondly. You could start finding decorations with your names or a particular theme (such as tropical).
- Silly pictures - taking pictures with you with the kids, the pet, or in a unique location. Be fun and creative, letting the kids take the lead.
- Change gift-giving routine - change when you open presents or how you distribute them. Add a secret Santa.
- Eat out instead of cooking - preparing a holiday meal can mean time away from the kids. Instead, try finding a restaurant that you have never visited. Maybe try a new restaurant each year.
5. Put the children first
In every situation that arises during the holidays involving your child and your co-parent, consider the mental health and happiness of your child above all else. While it could be fresh and painful for both parents to attend a holiday Christmas school pageant, your child will remember it forever.
Carefully choose when you can, and when you cannot, co-parent together during the holidays.
When Co-Parents Disagree
It’s always in the best interest of the children to strive to maintain a healthy co-parenting relationship. Psychology Today says that successful co-parenting can improve the development of a child’s sense of conscience and their ability to make moral decisions.
Despite your best efforts, things can still go wrong. Trying to stay calm and flexible will help. But if you have an ex-spouse that will not work with you and your holiday plans, then speaking with a New Jersey family law attorney may be your next step.
It may be necessary to let the courts settle your dispute when you and your co-parent absolutely cannot agree upon a holiday routine that works for everyone. This doesn’t mean that either of you has failed as a parent; it simply means that you’re trying to do what is best for the children. And sometimes, you both need a third party to make the final decision.
Contacting an experienced New Jersey family law attorney is sometimes necessary for everyone to come together and do what is best for the children.
Protect What Matters Most
Co-Parenting and Child Custody During the Holidays
Our Toms River and Moorestown family law attorneys understand that issues concerning co-parenting during the holidays can be highly charged and emotional for everyone involved. Divorce is already a complex and emotionally fraught situation - adding children and the holidays into the equation, makes the process that much more complicated. That’s why we go above and beyond to provide compassionate guidance and assertive representation you can rely on. When you need a family law attorney, turn to Stolfe Zeigler New Jersey Family Law Group.
Contact our attorneys at Stolfe Zeigler today at (732) 585-1651 to get started with an initial case evaluation.