The winter holidays are upon us, and it is a time filled with family traditions and emotions. You may feel joyful at this time of year, or perhaps sad if you divorced in 2022 and now are facing your first holiday apart from your child.
This can be a difficult pill to swallow. Still, you must recognize that you and your child’s other parent are responsible for bringing holiday magic to your child, and this means working together as co-parents.
Your parenting time arrangement may be “reasonable.” This means you and your co-parent agree to remain flexible regarding when you each have your child in your care.
If so, it is essential to plan on who will have the child over the holidays well ahead of time, and to communicate these plans with one another. You also must respect each other’s right to spend time with your child at this time of year.
Review your parenting plan
Alternatively, your parenting time arrangement may be “specific.” This means that your parenting plan specifically says who has the child when. This includes holidays.
For example, you may have your child on Christmas Eve until 9:00 a.m. on Christmas Day, and your co-parent may have your child the remainder of Christmas Day. Or you may have your child on Christmas on even-numbered years and your co-parent has your child on Christmas on odd-numbered years.
A specific parenting time arrangement has the advantage of being predictable. Review it ahead of time to ensure your make your plans accordingly.
Remember who the holidays are for
A divorce can be hard to process, even years later. This is true both for adults and children. You will want to help your child adjust to the holidays post-divorce in a number of ways.
First, be respectful of your co-parent. Encourage your child to enjoy their time with them. Make sure you are on time for child-custody exchanges. You could even help your child choose a gift for your co-parent.
Second, create new traditions with your child when your child is in your care over the holidays. The holidays may look different post-divorce, but there are many activities and celebrations you can include in your new life that make the holidays special for your child.
Whether your parenting time arrangement is “reasonable” or “specific,” you can plan now to cooperate with your co-parent, keeping your child’s best interests in mind.