Dealing with separation or divorce during the holidays can be a stark reminder of happier times. This is especially true for children. No matter how angry you may be with your spouse, he/she is the parent of your children. Respect that. Keep your children’s best interests as the top priority. Do not speak negatively about your spouse or make kids feel “caught in the middle.”
Develop a parenting schedule. Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines offer schedules for holiday time, but we know that holidays don’t often work that way. While you may want to consider the guidelines, make a schedule which fits your family. Stick to the schedule. Drop off the children on time. Each moment is precious for them. Delays can result in larger conflicts.
Consider Family Traditions. Holiday traditions are one thing children can look forward to even in difficult times. If your family has holiday traditions, make efforts to continue them. If the divorce or separation is recent and you believe it may be difficult on the children, consider a vacation or start a new fun family tradition that the children can get excited about.
If historically your family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve and your spouse’s family celebrates on Christmas day, create a schedule so that the children can participate and enjoy both families’ traditions each year.
Alternatively, it might make sense to alternate holidays rather than break up the day for the children by going to two homes. Doing so can create a relaxing day, instead of one spent racing from one get-together to another.
Communicate. If the children are not with you for the holidays, call them or send cards or emails. Consider celebrating before or after. Children love celebrations and gifts any time. Create a special day for you and them. If the children spend the holiday with you, let them speak with the other parent.
If the children are too young to call, help them make or receive a call. Give them a quiet moment together.
Coordinate gift-giving. Ask your ex-spouse what he/she plans on giving the child. Share your plans as well.
Help your children buy or make a gift and card for the other parent. Offer to take your children shopping to buy presents for the other. For young children especially, this is an exciting time, and they want to give as much as they receive. Put your feelings aside and take your child shopping for the other parent. Building healthy relationships with both parents creates a winning situation for everyone.
Remember, your spouse will be in your life long after the divorce and the children are grown. The more you are able to communicate and co-parent, the easier the transition will be on you and your children.
At Hollingsworth & Zivitz, P.C., our team has the experience, the understanding, and the compassion to assist with your family law needs. If you have questions or concerns regarding divorce, custody, support, or any other family law issues contact our firm at 317-569-2200 or hzlegal.com.
Happy holidays to you and your family!