For divorced parents in New York, December may be a bittersweet time. While Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Years are all joyful, they are also holidays that parents traditionally celebrate with their children and extended families. It is likely, that your parenting plan and visitation schedule will allow your spouse to be with the children at some point during the holidays, so that you may have to celebrate the holidays without your children.
Instead of being able to enjoy the season and fully embrace the festivities, estranged parents become stressed. To lessen the angst and stresses, I suggest you employ these strategies:
- Remember the holidays are not all about you.
If your children are spending the holidays with the other parent, encourage the children to have a blast with the other parent. If you are going to be alone, do not guilt-trip the children.
- Get into the spirit of the season.
The holidays are a time giving, forgiving and fresh starts. Let go of anger. Take stock of what you have –even if it is less than what you had before you divorced.
- Love means far more than money.
Though they may not comprehend it now, your time, love attention and emotional presence are the best gifts you can give your children.
- The holidays are not a competition with your ex for your children.
Giving a bigger or more expensive gifts to the children does not make them love you more; it just spoils them and raises expectations for next year.
- Communicate and coordinate with the other parent.
Communication and planning will ease transitions, reduce conflict and eliminate confusion. Plan the holiday schedule as early possible and confirm it, in writing. Be specific about dates and times. But, be flexible and willing to accommodate changes – stuff comes up!
- Celebrate with your children's other parent.
Children may feel guilt abandoning one parent during the holidays. Do a good deed – for the sake of the children – and include the other parent; maybe next year the favor will be returned.
If celebrating together is not an option, try a random act of kindness -maybe just be a little kinder or more flexible than usual.
- Share the kids
Thought it may be “your time” with children. Encourage them to call their other parent on the holiday that you have them. They may miss the other parent on these days.
- Communicate with your children.
Listen to them. Understand what your children are feeling. Engage in activities that they want to do.
- Set up a plan for next year now.
To avoid last minute disappointment or negotiations, plan for the holidays in advance; if there is a holiday schedule try to stick to it, but be willing to amend it as needed.
- Establish traditions with your children.
Establish new traditions with your children. After all, it is the rituals that make holidays special.
- Slow down.
If you are rushing from place to place trying to get to see all your relatives during the holidays, you are going to just increase your stress level. Be realistic in your planning. If you are getting stressed out, your children will pick up on it and mirror your mood and stress. Stay cool.
If you have child custody issues or just want to work out your holiday access schedule, please contact us or give us a call at 212-683-9551.