Successful Management of Holiday Schedules in Separation and Divorce

Catherine Croft

Stress Can’t Be Avoided – Or Can It?

Coordinating holiday schedules including your children with family and friends is a challenge. Add into the mix the competing schedules of families in separation or divorce and the challenge is on. Many times the communication between the parents isn’t working and the emotions are in overdrive. So what can a family do to alleviate some of the stress?

Things to Remember When Negotiating Holiday Schedules

Remember first and foremost it’s really about the children. Maintaining stability for them and civility with the other parent will pay off in the long run even if it appears presently it’s a losing battle. Communication is key. Not all parents communicate well in person when emotions are high. So, try e-mails and texting. And refrain refrain refrain from blame or angry emotions. Stick to the facts, communicate complete thoughts, and learn to respond rather than react.

Ask yourself: will these words help or hinder reaching consensus? Reacting is an immediate, knee-jerk, follow-up to a comment. Most often it inflames the conversation rather than moving it forward. But responding requires discipline, reflection, and creation of the best and most positive reply. It’s a skill that can be developed and one that is for many not a natural method of communication. Just like anything else in life, the more you practice it, the more natural it will feel.

Every family has set up some traditions and holiday schedules before separating or divorcing. Children become accustomed to the tradition and holiday schedules that existed before.  So it is wise to consider what would look and feel mostly the same to them even if only one parent is sharing it with them.

Different Strokes for Different Folks – Find What Works for Your Family

It’s common for parents to want to count days and who had which day last holiday, last year this time, and so forth. But getting beyond that — to the children — is key to success. During the Thanksgiving and Winter Break holidays many families alternate the entire holiday each year. Other’s split the day and share and alternate the remaining days. Still others have a set schedule each year that doesn’t change. Some families emphasize Christmas Eve over Christmas Day or vice versa. Interfaith families juggle holidays that are the same time of year but not the same dates. Some traditionally celebrate New Year’s Day. Some travel at Thanksgiving and some do not.

Getting to Win/Win

Be creative. Think outside of the box. And be flexible. That’s how you model for your children how their parents can and do navigate hard times with each other.

There are no winners in the bitter debates. The losers are always the children. The tense feelings between angry parents are never invisible to the children. They see. They hear. They feel. Let them see you at your best. If not always, then most often.

At Farrell & Croft, P.C. our attorney, Catherine S. Croft, is experienced in custody, visitation, separation, and divorce. She is committed to providing you with the representation you need and can assist you in identifying your goals and devising the best methods for achieving your objectives. Call her today for an appointment at 703-335-9390.

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