It’s that time of year again. The holidays, of course, where children move back and forth between their separated or divorced parents, where money is short, where demands on time, temper and money become tight, and where small impressions made may live forever.
Suggestions to survive the holidays:
1) Follow the rules.
If you and your former spouse, or your separated spouse, have rules in place to govern the holidays, follow those rules. If you wanted to make changes, or ask for changes, or negotiate changes, this is not the time; that should have been done earlier, say in the summer. Last-minute changes pile extra hardship on already-difficult situations, and Charleston divorce lawyers will have a pile of avoidable emergencies to handle already accumulated on their desks.
2) Be Flexible.
Not to contradict #1, but if the situation with the other parent of your children would improve if you were able to be flexible, then go ahead and be that parent who is able/willing to be flexible. If it helps your children, in any way, be as flexible as you can be.
3) Be Cordial.
It is not always easy. Yes, some divorced parents grow into situations where they are comfortable with cordiality, maybe even friendship; for the newly-separated or divorced parents, this may require gritting your teeth and/or grinding your teeth down a bit. Strive for pleasantries and make them as simple and as cordial as possible. Your children are watching, listening and judging.
4) Keep in touch.
If your children are spending extended time with you, over the holidays, remember to allow them to keep in touch with the other important people in their lives. This may be relatives, friends or neighbors. Allow them to call the people they are interested in, to have play days or special gatherings with these people, and generally do not attempt to “hoard” your extended time with your children. Remember that they are part of larger family groups on both sides, and that they themselves have friends and other personal interests. Of course, it is difficult to set forth one specific rule or guideline that would assist parents of ALL age groups, and obviously you will need to deal with teen-agers differently than you do with children who are still portable.
5) Keep an open door.
If your children and their friends feel welcome in your home, they will come; in fact, they will beat a path to your house. Remember the golden rules: never embarrass your own child, and it is better just to observe than to open your mouth and prove that you are an outsider! Provide the environment, the food, the entertainment, and make yourself part of the background. Especially for school-aged children and up through high school, this formula works well.
6) Hide your hurts.
Is it fun to say goodbye to your children while they go off with their other parent for a week? Of course not. Your children should not have to worry about you, however, and they should not be exposed to your hurt or involved in it. Say “goodbye and I will miss you, see you soon!” and be a good sport about it. They will remember this, and they will always be grateful.
7) Make necessary changes.
If your holiday arrangements are outdated, impractical, or just not working well, discuss with your Charleston divorce lawyers those changes which might work better. To this end, you should always consider including a mandatory mediation provision in your paperwork so that you have the ability to get back to formal discussions with the other parent of your children if you feel that such discussions would be helpful.
8) Never forget what guides us here.
Nothing is more important than making sure that your children have happy memories of Christmas. While each parent should hope for the very best of holiday memories as well, focus belongs on the needs of the children – on holidays as well as during the rest of the year.
If you have any questions about how to better survive the holiday season, please feel free to contact one of our Charleston divorce lawyers at 843-571-0537.
Editorial note: this article was initially set to be published before the holiday season, but our firm was so inundated by emergencies that could have been avoided had folks abided by these rules, we simply never found the time to post!