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Holiday Tips for Parents after Divorce

Posted on in Child Custody

DuPage County family law attorney, holiday tips for parents, divorce and holidays, holiday season, child custody, child visitation, post-divorce families, divorce and communicationUnder the best of circumstances, the holiday season can be stressful. With travel plans to make, food to prepare, and of course, gifts to buy and wrap, the list of things to do can seem endless. If you are a divorced parent who shares custody of your children, the list can seem even longer. Many custody and visitation orders do not specifically address holidays and those that do still need to be put into action during a very busy time of year.

It can be extremely difficult to work with your ex-spouse to make holiday arrangements. Hurt feelings, resentment, and jealousy can complicate the path to compromise. Your children, however, deserve the absolute best holiday season possible, regardless of the relationship between you and their other parent.

Noted lecturer and author, Robert E. Emery is a professor of psychology and the director of the University of Virginia's Center for Children, Families, and the Law. With over 30 years of clinical experience and more than 100 scientific publications, Dr. Emery makes several recommendations for post-divorce families to keep in mind during the holiday season.

Plan Early and Plan Well

Waiting until Christmas Eve to discuss where the kids will spend Christmas Day is obviously not the best idea. As soon as reasonably possible, reach out to your ex and start to talk. Make clear what you are each hoping for and work to find middle ground.

Additionally, it is important to be as specific as possible. Planning to pick the children up at 3:00 p.m. is easier to work with than making a plan for "sometime in the afternoon." Having a plan in place, even it needs to be adjusted as the holidays get closer, can greatly reduce stress and tension.

Tell Everyone Who Matters

Communication between parents is essential, of course, but keeping extended family involved is also very helpful. Demands on the children's time may mean that this year will be different than last year. If the kids, for example, may not make it to your aunt's house for dinner this year, let your family know now rather than just showing up without them.

Be sure to also communicate with your children. Include them, to a reasonable extent, in the planning, and make sure they are kept abreast of any changes. Uncertainty and confusion can be extremely stressful. Knowing the plan and the schedule can help your children relax in the moment and enjoy the festivities.

Make it about the Children

The holidays are not a contest. You do not have to prove anything to your ex-spouse. Your responsibility is to give your children the best experience you can. For some, it could mean including your ex in your holiday plans, allowing your children the opportunity to be with both parents together for a change. For others, a renewed effort at cooperation and civility in the spirit of the season can help create a positive holiday atmosphere for the children.

Whatever your plans may be, your children should be at the center of them. Your children need your love and attention this time of year more than anything else. Gifts are nice, obviously, but the impact of your presence can make a world of difference to your children. Regardless of financial situation, every parent can afford the gift of love this holiday season.

If you are considering divorce in Illinois or are subject to a custody order that you would like amended, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. We can provide the representation you need throughout the process to ensure your rights are protected.

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