As the winter holidays approach, many co-parents are addressing the issue of how to effectively share or divide special events with their children. For some parents, this is the first holiday season that this situation and other custody issues have come up.
During parenting time discussions - and all discussions involving children - it is important to remember that two parties will never stop being their children's parents. This means that they will be intertwined to some degree for the rest of their lives, regardless of whether or not they are divorced, separated or in new relationships.
For that reason, a good starting point is to look at issues from the other side's perspective, and also consider how the children will be affected by different decisions. Is there a special Christmas Eve tradition that is always done with dad's family? Is the first night of Hanukkah regularly observed with Mom and her family? Would both parents want to see their young children open their presents Christmas morning? Is a young child having trouble being away from one parent for long stretches of time?
You and your co-parent will have to address these and other difficult parenting decisions for many years. By seeing things from each other's perspective, and also by considering how the children will be impacted, you can maximize and improve on your co-parenting relationship.
A few options for the holidays:
- Split each holiday in half, alternating the morning and afternoon each year
- Alternate the entire holiday each year (may not be good for the children if they will miss out on special traditions or cannot be away from a parent for long periods of time)
- Spend Christmas morning or Christmas Eve together, so the children can enjoy being with both parents