The first holiday season post-divorce can be one of the most difficult. Not only is your family likely still dealing with coming to terms with the divorce, but you may also still be settling into your new routines and lifestyle. Major holidays, like Christmas, are stressful for many people, but they can be overwhelming when dealing with being newly divorced. Of course, this goes for your children too.
Below we consider some frequently asked questions about celebrating Christmas post-divorce and offer tips for helping your kids have a happy holiday.
Should Divorced Parents Spend Holidays Together?
We often see ideal representations of co-parenting relationships on television where blended families and divorced parents all come together to celebrate a joyous holiday. While this is nice, it is simply unrealistic for most families. Unfortunately, pushing the idea that divorced parents should come together at the holidays and spend Christmas together for their kids can put undue pressure on the entire family, children included.
If you and your former spouse separated amicably and are on good terms, you may wish to consider spending some part of the holiday together so that your children can enjoy the day with both of their parents. However, if you had a high-conflict divorce, or your children are struggling with you and their other parent no longer being together, a shared holiday may make the situation worse.
Instead of trying to force an unrealistic ideal, focus on your children's needs and how you and your co-parent can best meet them. In some cases, this may mean that parents alternate holidays each year, while other families split the day. Similarly, some families have found success with one parent spending Christmas Eve with the children while the other spends Christmas Day with them.
How to Make Christmas Special After a Divorce?
Many parents are worried about how to ensure that their children have a special Christmas post-divorce. If this is something you are concerned with, you are not alone. Long-standing traditions may look very different or not be possible anymore. You may be living in a new home, and even something as simple as your usual holiday decorations may have changed. The first Christmas after a divorce is likely more stressful for you and your children, and you and your family may also be grieving the loss of your former family life.
One way to help your children have a special Christmas post-divorce is to consider how you can develop new traditions with your children, especially if you will not be seeing them on the actual holiday. For
example, you can look for local holiday activities and festivals to attend, such as light parades or holiday markets. Alternatively, you can set aside a day to watch Christmas movies and try new holiday-themed craft projects. Even something as simple as driving around your neighborhood looking at Christmas lights can be a special bonding time with your children. You may also wish to consider what old traditions you can continue doing and which your children will find comforting and provide a sense of stability.
What Should I Do If My Co-Parent Doesn't Want to Stick to Our Schedule?
Most parents make provisions for major holidays in their parenting plans or visitation agreements. While parents and the courts work hard to develop custody and visitation schedules that will meet the needs of the children long-term, it can be difficult for a parent to come to terms with seeing their children significantly less, especially around the holidays. It is not uncommon for co-parents to argue or struggle with their holiday visitation schedules.
If you are in a situation where your co-parent doesn't want to adhere to your Christmas visitation schedule, you have a few options. First, you should open communication with your co-parent and find out what the problem is. In some cases, you may be able to find a solution together without having to get lawyers or the courts involved. However, if the problem is more serious, or if they are simply refusing to adhere to your court-ordered plan, you may need to seek enforcement through the courts.
At Hunt Law Firm, we understand how difficult a family's first Christmas post-divorce can be. Our lawyers are dedicated to helping clients through this difficult time, and we are prepared to help you, too.