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Even though so many of us perceive holidays and special days as a joyous time for spending time with family and friends, others are forced to suffer one of the many consequences of a divorce...splitting time with the children.
How to Handle Holiday Celebrations
After you settle into a routine through the year, it is easy to forget how visitation should run through the holiday season
Final Divorce Decree and Visitation
For divorced families, the difficulty intensifies dramatically. Along with the hope and expectation of continued family traditions, as well as the inevitable family pressure that accompanies said traditions, divorced parents are forced to live with another entity that dictates their lives: the final divorce decree. This court document will unfortunately dictate how holiday time with one’s children will be spent.
It is at this point of the year that you need to take a look at your final decree and review what it states regarding holiday visitation. Most parents settle into a visitation routine throughout the year, so it is easy to forget how visitation should run through the holiday season.
Steps You Can Take
The last thing you want to do is place added stress on yourself and your family during what should be a happy time of the year. Because of this fact, I have created a list of suggestions to help you get through this, and every holiday season, unscathed.
Focus on your time with your children; do not focus on the time you are without them.
Accept your holiday parenting time as ordered, and choose to make the best of it. Attempt to schedule all of your holiday plans around your parenting time. Do not intentionally schedule events during your ex-spouses time in hopes of circumventing his or her time with the children.
Keep your children out of the middle of any disagreement. Let me say this again. KEEP YOUR CHILDREN OUT OF THE MIDDLE! You have the ability to make the holiday season a happy one for them, regardless of the situation.
Do not turn the holiday into a competition with your ex-spouse. This only hurts the children.
If you cannot replicate your old family traditions, create new ones with your family and your children. Do NOT be bitter about this. Different does not always mean worse.
Flexibility is key. Children do not care if they are opening up presents on the 24th or the 25th of December, as long as they are opening up presents! Celebrate a holiday on a different day. This may be a way for you to replicate your old family traditions (see above suggestion!).
Help your child make or purchase a gift for your ex-spouse. By doing so, you are demonstrating respect for the other parent and, in the process, you are modeling thoughtful and gracious behavior for your child.
If you receive a gift from your child that you know came from your former spouse, accept it graciously as well. Any behavior outside of this will break your child’s heart.
Take care of yourself. Maintaining a regular exercise routine will help you burn off some of that additional stress. Tip: Take out some aggression on a punching bag at the gym. Works wonders!