Holidays and Child Custody Schedules
It’s that time of year again, Halloween is right around the corner and Christmas decorations are already in the stores. As divorced parents we cringe to think about splitting holidays, or splitting time on holidays, or not seeing our children at all during this holiday because we had them last year. To sum it up, the holidays can suck if you’re divorced and your parenting plan dictates what your children will do.
During most child custody hearings the child visitation plan sets out a holiday schedule. We parents drag our children between houses, and then switch half way through the day without any thought about what our children are doing at the time. Holidays are supposed to be fun and a time we create new memories with our children. As divorced parents, it is important to make new memories with our children and many of them will begin now, during the holiday season. What type of memory will create for yours?
Our children are powerless, when it comes to the child visitation order or parenting plan. Our children simply go where they are told, when they are told and we expect them to smile and like it. They are allowed “x” amount of hours at one house on Christmas morning, only to rush away for “x” amount of hours at the other house; sounds like a great holiday, I am sure they are looking forward to it. Having two holidays, two birthdays, two families to spend time with, might be the only “pro” to all of the “cons” they experience in the mess you and the other parent have created for them. Keep in mind, most of these children did not ask for this situation; they have just been dragged along for the scariest ride of their life.
Now may be a good time to ramp up the co-parenting skills and focus on putting your children first, while putting your desires and plans on the back burner. The children are the reason we jump through the hoops of holidays, decorate, bake, gather, visit, and give gifts. Show your children that this holiday will be okay, regardless of the situation you are in, whether you are newly divorced or a veteran.
Don’t compete during the holidays; you take the joy out of the reason your children are with you. If you keep it simple, your children will recognize that life is different, but they are still important. If you try to compete, your children will notice that the holiday has just become about you and your ex, and not about the children. Allow your children to enjoy a second holiday with the other parent, as well.
If this is your first holiday as a single parent, consider which traditions you want to keep, modify, or trash. If there are traditions the children enjoy, make new memories with them. If there are traditions that the other parent initiated, talk to them and find out if they plan to continue with them; those traditions are for your children and may provide a little bit of familiarity and comfort. Making new memories with your children is vital; start now with carving pumpkins, invite your children to bake desserts for Thanksgiving, and set aside a day where you can all decorate Christmas cookies.
The holidays don’t have to be difficult, even if they start off that way. Realize that your hectic holiday is limited to one house, while your children are being pulled in multiple directions. Make this year easy for them, and give them some leniency on the schedule and what they want to do.
If you have any questions regarding child custody, child visitation, or other family law matters, the Law Office of Heath L. Baker will help you. Please contact us at (951) 222-2228, or at our website: www.heathbakerlaw.com. We would love to talk to you in person and discuss the family law or divorce issues that are important to you.