By Dads’ Resource Center
Many people find this time of the year to be the most stressful because they are busy trying to fit in so much around the holidays. For millions of divorced parents, there are additional challenges to face as they try to make the holidays a success while splitting custody of the children. The good news is that there are things that co-parents can do in order to make the holiday more enjoyable and less stressful for everyone.
“What children in separated families want more than anything in the world is for mom and dad to work together on their behalf,” explains Dads’ Resource Center executive director Jeff Steiner. “The greatest present that separated parents can give their children at any time, and most particularly during the holidays, is the gift of getting along.”
The first knee-jerk reaction that many co-parents have is to essentially grab a rope and invite the other parent to a game of tug-of-war. Both parents fight about who will have the kids over the holidays and there’s very little compromise and flexibility involved. That’s not going to create a great holiday experience for anyone, and may even have a detrimental impact on the children.
When parents can successfully work together to create a great holiday experience, the child will benefit, as will the parents. The effort to work together will show the child a great lesson in how to get along with others, how to work together, and how to put their family first. It’s important for families to not put the pressures or stresses of co-parenting during the holidays onto the child, as it will only make them feel like they are a burden. Rather, focus on working together to make it a great month, and working through any challenges with a good attitude.
Here are 5 holiday survival tips for divorced parents to help them work together to make the best experience:
Plan it out. Make a list of the events that people want to do for the holiday, for each side of the family, and if the child has any special event they want to attend. Map and schedule it all out to include as many as possible. If there are conflicts on particular days, work out which one will be attended. Having a plan that everyone agrees to is the first major step to ensuring a smooth holiday month.
Discuss the gifts. It’s important that both parents are okay with the gifts that the other one wants to purchase. If both parents don’t agree to a certain gift then it should be left off the table. For example, if one parent wants to purchase the teen a pellet gun and the other disagrees, then that gift should be avoided. Work out the bigger gifts so there’s no problems that arise after they have been opened.
Be patient. Co-parents or not, it’s important to practice patience during this time of the year. As people find it to be a more stressful time, it is a good idea to do things to relax and reduce stress, such as meditation, reading, taking a walk, etc. Make time during the month to relax and simply do nothing.
Agree to not fight. It’s common for co-parents to want to fight to get their way on every issue, oftentimes taking it to court. Instead of that route, which is more difficult for the kids, agree to work together. In doing so, you will need to compromise, but it will be worth it. Remember, the kids are watching what battles are waged and how they are fought, and will often repeat those patterns later on in life. Make sure what you are teaching them is something you’d want them repeating.
Put the kids first. The years of co-parenting during the holidays are fleeting. It’s imperative to put the kids first and give them the best possible experience. Ask yourself what is in the child’s best interest when challenges arise. Being able to have some traditions and see family and extended family members are positive ways to help give the child a good foundation.
“Study after study shows what we already know – children develop more fully and have a greater chance of being successful in life when both of their parents are actively involved in their lives,” said Dads’ Resource Center founder Dr. Joel N. Myers. “It is my most sincere wish that all children are given the opportunity to benefit so greatly from their fathers’ engaged presence.”
Dads’ Resource Center was started by Dr. Myers, a father of eight and the founder and CEO of AccuWeather. The mission is to help combat the issues associated with children growing up without their fathers in the home. At its heart, the center is a child advocacy organization that aims to ensure that each child has the appropriate involvement and contributions from both parents.
Dads’ Resource Center has been established to benefit children of separated or divorced parents by advocating the importance of fathers having adequate opportunities to fulfill their role of fatherhood. The group helps get information regarding the issues out to the public and works with fathers to help make improvements. To get more information, visit their website.