This year brought a return of holiday gatherings with families and travel. Although most people look forward to the holidays those who are going through a divorce don’t always have the same anticipation during the holidays. Before making any final plans including dinners, travel arrangements and special events read your custody agreement. Most custody agreements outline the holiday schedule along with custodial transfers, travel requirements and restrictions. The most disappointing event a child can go through is a promise by a parent for a trip or special event during the holidays and then having to cancel that event because the parties’ agreement doesn’t support the noncustodial parent time.
Both parents should also be mindful to support past holiday traditions for the children so their holiday can be as normal as possible. If one parent’s family ordinarily celebrated Christmas Eve, that parent should be permitted to continue the tradition. Parents should be less focused on custodial time then ensuring the children are thriving during the holidays and witnessing both parents working together to make the holidays as nice as possible.
One issue parents sometimes don’t discuss but can be devastating to the children is the gift giving. First, each parent should have the children recognize the other parent whether it be through cards and a small gift or something hand made. This shows the children how to treat each parent and provides mutual respect to each parent. More importantly parents should discuss which gifts they are buying for the children. Parents should not take the position that support payments are their contribution to the children’s gifts. Both parents should discuss setting a budget for gift giving, working on providing separate but equal gifts for the children and neither parent should ever disparage the gifts another parent gave the children.
Finally, collaboration and coparenting is the most valuable lesson a parent can exercise during the holidays. Advance planning, flexibility and communication are the most excellent tools a parent can utilize during the holidays.