Fathering

Co-Parenting and the Holidays

Holidays are such an exciting time! Most families look forward to family traditions like picking out the tree, putting up the lights, drinking hot chocolate and watching Miracle on 34th Street.  Or decorating gingerbread men and putting together the annual holiday puzzle. Just thinking about these things can make us feel warm inside.

But for many parents and children, a divorce can turn these traditions upside down. What used to feel good now reminds them of what’s missing. Instead of creating joy, there is grief and confusion.

Though sharing your children with your ex on a holiday can make you feel like your heart is being ripped out, it’s emotional for the kids, too. Children usually don’t have a say in where they’ll be or when, and going back and forth is like reliving the divorce for them. Oftentimes, kids react to the pain, hurt and anger they feel by acting out as they prepare for transitions (especially around the holidays).

It’s important to help your children make the transition from one house to the other as smooth as possible. Children need to be able to count on their parents to be responsible and dependable. Following through on your commitments increases their trust, so be careful about making promises you don’t intend to keep.

For example, changing the arrangements just to get back at your ex hurts your kids.  Being disrespectful and breaking your promises teaches them it’s okay to treat people in the same manner. Not following through on your plans says, “I don’t care. You really aren’t that important.” This kind of behavior can be very detrimental to the well-being of your children, who in many instances wonder if their parents still love them.

As Christmas draws closer, help your children have the best holiday celebration possible by practicing these suggestions:

As a parent, you get to set the mood for the holidays and the transitions that come along with them. Being especially considerate of your children as they adjust to this situation can help them create pleasant memories.

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