With this year's Thanksgiving recently behind us, the holiday season is nearly in full swing. This time of year in Texas is filled with good tidings and cheer, but for co-parents who no longer live together, the holidays can be a trying time, even with a comprehensive parenting plan already in place.
So what can co-parents do to reduce stress for themselves and their kids during the holidays? Here are a few suggestions.
Try your best to be communicative and responsive with the other parent.
While communication with your co-parent may not have been great when you were still together, clearly communicating your holiday plans can minimize the risk of conflict while putting your child's positive experience of the holidays at the forefront.
If your holiday itinerary differs from what is specified in the parenting agreement, then be sure to let your co-parent know well before the last minute, and explain why a change is needed. A surprise in these matters could lead to an otherwise preventable fight -- something that neither you nor your children want.
Do as much as you reasonably can to cooperate.
If your co-parent asks to deviate from the agreed-upon schedule, then consider allowing some flexibility. After all, you may find yourself asking for a similar adjustment in the future.
Along similar lines, you can co-ordinate with your co-parent with regard to gift-giving. Many kids make holiday wish lists, and if your child has one, then consider dividing the list with the other parent. Doing this can split the cost and ensure that you and the other parent are on the same page.
As we say at the Law Office of Mark M. Childress, when parents are cooperative, children are the real winners.
Remember that your children also need the love of grandparents and other relatives on your co-parent's side of the family.
Of course, this goes back to being communicative and responsive. You can coordinate with your co-parent to ensure that the kids spend time with your ex's family and yours.
If a scheduling problem between you and your co-parent arises, then avoid complaining to your child about the issue.
Getting a child involved in a strictly parental conflict can be emotionally detrimental to the child, and at this time of year, holiday memories can be tarnished. You can protect your child's best interests by not involving him or her in the parental dispute.
Family members and friends are better suited to hear complaints about the other parent. If the problem in question raises legal concerns, then speak with a family law attorney about the issue.
For more on developing creative and effective child custody arrangements for busy parents, please see our previous post, "Busy Work Schedules Complicate Child Custody, But There Are Solutions."