While Christmas is an exciting and fun time of year in so many ways, it can also be a challenging time when a family is split by divorce or a broken relationship. Many families fight about the kids or become bitter and angry at not having the time they desire. It not only ruins the holiday for mom and dad, but it really takes the joy out it for the kids too.
The key in our family for so many years has been one basic rule: the kids come first. It’s not always easy, but is absolutely worth it.
In reality, it’s not the fault of children when their parents are no longer living together. Yet they pay the price. Children are innocent bystanders that get caught in the middle. What if you could save your children from that painful process over the holidays? What a gift that would be!
In our family, we created traditions that have allowed our children to spend time with both of us, while also allowing flexibility as they grew and changed along the way. Build in wiggle room as much as you can. Allow for changing seasons. At the end of the journey, what you want with your children is connection and a relationship. That comes from listening and being flexible.
Children grow up so fast. Allow them to enjoy magical moments and to have memories with both sides of the family (and not just every other year, if you can help it). It is so valuable. Our plan the first year was that the kids would have Christmas Eve and morning with me and Christmas afternoon and evening with dad. It was based on their ages and was adjusted as-needed over the years. It was the best of both worlds for our kids and worked well for us too.
As the holidays are upon us, this is a great time to start having conversations about Christmas plans. Start asking your children what they envision Christmas looking like and what would make them happy. Some questions for the adults to consider are:
- Who will be visiting with mom or dad over Christmas this year?
- Would the kids enjoy seeing those family members and friends?
- What activities will be taking place with each side of the family?
- Are they activities the kids would benefit from or really enjoy?
- What traditions do the kids value?
- How do you ensure they get to keep those?
- What would be most memorable for the kids this year?
As your children get older, their choices will change and your plans will adjust. Be willing to grow with them. Be willing to share. They love you both.
There are a variety of ways to approach the holidays. This is just one way that has worked for us. If you are in a volatile relationship, it may not be as simple. Do your best each year to keep your focus on what is in the best interest of your children.
Once the plans are made, use your time wisely. When you have your children with you, create great traditions, play games, and enjoy fun with them. When they are not with you, take advantage of that opportunity to do something enjoyable for yourself. Be with people you love and who love you. Do fun things. Be creative. Enjoy your time. Fill your tank. You can even find a place to contribute in the community if you want to. When your kids come back, you will be fulfilled and ready for quality time with them.
Remember, while your court documents provide a guideline, the ultimate gift for your children is working together to create meaningful holiday memories as they grow and change each year.
Wishing you a Joy-filled Christmas!
Traci Williams is known for her practical and intuitive approach to parenting. To sign up for her free parenting newsletter, go to www.alovingway.com. She can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 951-240-1407.