Just as the arrival of September signals the beginning of the new school year, with all the scheduling conflicts and custody arrangements to hammer out, so too does October herald in what is officially known, in this country, as the “Holiday Season”. This means that all those plans you and your ex so painfully made before the kids went to school are about to get blown away like so many Autumn leaves off a picnic table. Once again, communication is key, and flexibility is helpful during these super stressful holidays to come.
Surely it escapes no one that from now until January 2, there is one holiday after another to prepare for, both mentally and figuratively. For those of us with children, this can be a veritable minefield of extreme expectations and dramatic reactions to change…and then there is the children’s reactions. Seriously, these three months can be every bit as harrowing for parents as for the kids that may or may not be bickered over when it comes down to arranging their time.
It is difficult to say how kids will react to a change in schedule, or what memories they will carry with them when they are adults with families of their own. What we can all agree on is that making memories that aren’t about tears, arguing, and negativity should always be a good parent’s ultimate goal. This means having some frank conversations with your kids AND your ex about how things proceed.
The usual advice applies, in that nothing will get accomplished until both parties can put acrimony behind them – remember that the kids will take their emotional cues from you. If you and your ex are able to make and create an environment that seems respectful and treat the coming holidays without any visceral reactions clouding judgments, the children are less likely to freak out over changes. Ideally, this will mean not getting what YOU want 100 percent of the time, but it SHOULD mean you can have your way 50% of the time…but we aren’t living in an ideal world, so compromise is in order.
Compromise can be a tricky proposition when it comes to what you think is best. If your ex wants to take the kids on an out of the country vacation that you deem unsafe, then it’s advisable to contact your lawyer. However, if it’s your ex’s turn to have the kids for Christmas and he or she wants to visit his parents out of state for the week between Christmas and New Year’s, it may behoove you to allow for it this once if it means you get the kids for all of Thanksgiving AND Easter. Or maybe you can see the kids on Christmas Eve before they fly out and offer to drive everyone to the airport to get that extra time in. It may mean spending the actual Holiday away from them, but at least if this is agreed upon without strife, the kids will feel free to have a good time without feeling guilty or worried about you while they are gone
Naturally, all this is only a possibility if both parties can assure that they will behave objectively and with respect to each other. If all else fails and your ex is unable to keep a civil tongue, then it is always better to appear to be the reasonable one…they don’t call it the high road for nothing. At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to show that you love your kids and want them to have a safe and happy holiday season. If that means slapping a fake smile on your face and making nice with a person you used to love, but now loathe, well you should do that—hopefully with the benefit of well-adjusted offspring.