Co-parenting for the Holidays: Tips for Handling Children’s Needs

Written December 11th, 2013
Categories: Divorce, Divorce Behavior, Divorce Time Sharing

ID-10067249Home for the holidays can be challenging for a family who is separated, is going through a divorce or has recently finalized one. The hardest part for parents can be finding a balance for their children.

In an article from Springfield Collaborative Divorce, “Donna Moore, a licensed clinical social worker in Raleigh, North Carolina shares tips to make it easier for divorced and separated parents to navigate through the holiday season”.  Last week we shared information on handling the complicated emotions, and today we are discussing legal measures to make the holiday time less complicated.

Moore begins by saying, “Legally, it is important to put a parenting schedule in place for the holidays long before the season begins. If you can, sit down with the other parent to work out and agree upon the details.”

To assist them in this process, parents may wish to use a parenting coordinator to aid them in coming to agreement on what works best for their children.

She advocates starting with these five areas:

  • Celebration Meals: Make a reasonable schedule for where and when children will eat holiday meals. It may not be comfortable for them to take on two big meals in one day. So consider how best to accomplish family celebrations.
  • Transportation: Arrange who will transport children when it’s time to move locations.
  • Gifts: Exchanging gifts is a part of many holiday traditions. Decide how and when this will take place. Make a plan if both parents will attend or if there will be separate exchanges. The budget may shape the plan.
  • Childcare: Vacation from school is fabulous for kids but complicated for parents. If both work, simplify the process by having one parent arrange all the childcare.
  • Trips: If one parent plans a trip, the basics should be agreed upon by both parents and details of travel plans should be shared so that the parent that remains home is aware of the status of travel.

“Once you have the details worked out, put them in writing immediately to confirm that you are on the same page and to avoid future conflict over what was agreed upon,” says Moore. These written details are not binding but can be changed as needed to fit circumstances. Just remember they are the “default” if new agreements can’t be reached.

The holidays are meant to be a joyful, restful time for family. Having an adult conversation, making some personal sacrifices as parents can make it the best for children. Making the decisions early will give children a framework for vacation. It will show them they are a priority and that each of you love them and care for them which is worth all the work you do with your spouse or former spouse.



Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici