The holiday season is meant to be a time of joy for everyone. It’s a great opportunity to catch up with family and spend time together. However, for families that have gone through divorce and a battle for custody, the holiday season can be the source of great stress and strife.
Common causes of conflict during the holiday season
There are various reasons why conflict may arise between divorced parents during the holiday season.
- Parents may want changes to the regular parenting schedule during the holiday season, e.g. a parent may want to have the children celebrate Christmas with them even though the holiday may fall in a period when the other parent is supposed to be with the children based on the regular parenting schedule.
- Parents may want to travel and spend time with extended family. The other parent may not want to be separated from the children during the holidays and this may cause conflict.
- Parents may want to celebrate holidays differently or celebrate different holidays. For example, one parent may want to celebrate a religious holiday that their ex-spouse may not support. A parent may prefer to celebrate the holidays with extended family while the other parent would want to spend time as a family.
Tips to avoid conflict over the holidays
The following are some tips to avoid conflict over custody during the holidays.
Identify holidays that are important to you
What holidays do you consider important to you? Do you have a big family get-together during Christmas or Thanksgiving? Are you religious?
Identify holidays that are important to you and agree on which spouse should be given priority to spend time with the children over specific holidays.
Determine how holidays will be celebrated
Will you be celebrating holidays together? Will the children celebrate the holiday at your house and spend the night with your ex-spouse? Will you be traveling for major holidays to spend time with extended family? It is important to agree on how holidays will be celebrated in advance.
Be flexible with your parenting schedule
It is important to be flexible even when you have a set parenting schedule. Anything can happen that may call for a change to the schedule. For example, an out-of-town relative may be sick and your ex may want to see them over the holidays. Allow your children the opportunity to travel and spend time with their relatives in order to build healthy relationships with their extended family.
Put your children first
If a conflict arises over who should have the children over the holidays, it is important not to give in to your emotions and the urge to fight. You should instead take a step back and consider what is in the best interests of your children. Fighting won’t resolve the issue. Trying to find a compromise will, even though it may be difficult.
Use the tips above to try and make the holiday season a peaceful and fun season for everyone.