The holidays should be filled with joy and happiness for young children. As a parent, you want your child to have the best possible holiday season, regardless of issues you may be having with your ex-spouse or dealing with a custody arrangement this year. You can make the holidays easier for yourself and more enjoyable for your child with a few tips for navigating shared custody.
Your family can avoid a lot of stress, tension and emotional distress this holiday season by planning for special occasions ahead. Your parenting plan should account for where the children will be over the holidays. If it does, stick to the plan. Remember that the parenting plan you created is what you both thought was best for your child. If you gave up one holiday with your child in exchange for another, for example, remind yourself that your time is coming. Create a holiday plan that works for everyone and follow through with it when the time comes.
Have an Open Mind
The holidays might be important to you, but you need to remain in control of your emotions and keep an open mind during custody decision-making. Putting your foot down or making unreasonable custody demands can add to the tension in your family and lead to a confrontation – as well as a potential court case to determine custody. Keep things civil between you and your ex by hiring a child custody lawyer to act as a mediator or go-between. Do your best to stay open to different custody arrangements and come to a compromise with your ex-spouse.
You may wish to spend the holidays away from your ex, but this may not be what is best for your child. Young children can especially find it difficult to not be around one parent on a holiday or special occasion. You can make this time more enjoyable for your child by doing your best to share custody and be civil with your ex. Tolerating being in the same room as your ex, for example, might be what you have to do to spend time with your children and make them happy this holiday season.
Start New Traditions
Things won’t be the same this year, and that’s okay. Trying to keep things the same as every other year during the holidays can set you up for disappointment. Instead, acknowledge that things are different this year and embrace the opportunity to begin new holiday traditions. Keep the focus on spending time with your child and being together. Let your child know that even if things look different this year, he or she is still loved and valued by both parents.
As time passes, a child will grow more accustomed to the split and how the holidays look for your family now. In the beginning, however, things may be more emotionally tenuous, especially for young children. You may need to be flexible with your holiday plans to accommodate tantrums or outbursts. For example, you may end up dividing your parenting time with your ex-spouse unexpectedly to make your child happy. If your child is sick during a holiday, this could also require more flexibility to make up missed parenting time.
Sharing custody is difficult and can be emotionally draining, especially around the holidays. Be kind to yourself. Remind yourself that you are doing your best and that things will get easier with time. If necessary, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a San Diego child custody lawyer, mediator or therapist.