I remember as a child how difficult it was to “choose” between the parents with whom I would spend the holidays. You do not want to choose since you may hurt one parent or the other. Here are five (5) steps to the help children of two families during the holiday season.
Bah Humbug, Leave It at the Door
Conflict in front of your kids is never fun. Try extra hard to avoid conflict during the holidays. Nothing is more painful than seeing your parents fight. The holidays are a time to reflect and be thankful for what you have. The end result is always the same: you both want what is best for your child.
Set up a Holiday Schedule
Plan a schedule before the holidays kick off. A common practice is to switch holidays each year. That helps with planning, and also avoids putting the children in a position where they have to choose one parent over the other. Be flexible. If you live close enough, you may even set it up so your child may enjoy the company of both parents on the same day.
Celebrate on Another Day
If you plan ahead, your children need not feel they missed any holiday celebration. Even though many special events are traditionally celebrated on a specific date, that does not mean you cannot celebrate later. If this year your child will not be with you on the “special holiday,” celebrate when they are with you. Keep decorations up, invite family and friends over for a special meal. Family time can be fun no matter when it is.
Time to Play
One of the hardest things for a child is getting a gift from one parent that cannot be taken to the other parent’s house. Work hard to create an adult relationship with your ex, so that your children do not have to suffer in this way. It may even be a way to foster a sense of responsibility in them. If the children can bring the treasured items back and forth, and care for them responsibly, this can give them a sense of accomplishment and worth. Since children are usually off school for a period of time during the holidays, it may be a good time to test taking the item back and forth.
Do not Try to Buy Love
Sometimes one parent cannot afford to give as much as the other. An adult relationship with your ex can help - Work with your ex on figuring out gifts. There is never a need for one parent to outshine the other. Also, if money is tight, keep in mind that spending quality time with your children is the best gift you can give them. There are plenty of holiday events going on during this time of the year that do not cost anything. Something as simple as a drive around the neighborhoods to look at lights may be a wonderful way to celebrate together.
When children look back at their childhoods, they will remember vividly the holiday traditions they shared with their families. Work hard on making positive holiday memories that one day your children will want to continue with their own families.