The holiday season is upon us. It’s that time of the year where people are expected to put aside their conflicts and disagreements, drink a cup of good cheer and celebrate the season. Whether it is Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa or other respective holidays you are celebrating, it should be a joyous occasion for the family.
It can also be very stressful and emotionally challenging for the children, particularly if the family is going through major life changes, such as divorce.
Examples of stress-inducing events: typically, the holiday season is split between the parents, which requires the children to be shuttled between the parents’ respective residences. If the parents live in different cities or states, the children may end up spending long periods of their holiday vacation from school because of having to travel by car or air. Also, the parents are embroiled in litigation or the pending threat of litigation which does not enhance communication. Children pick up on their parents’ conflicts. Sometimes, the children might unintentionally witness their parents arguing about visitation or other issues pertaining to the family. All of these aspects are ingredients for stressful, difficult times for the children, which you can have a positive influence by avoiding actions that may exacerbate the situation.
Parents don’t intentionally set out to heap stressors on their children. Being mindful of how your children are coping during the season and how you can make it less stressful for them will make it easier for your children to have a happy holiday experience.
Here are three tips on how to reduce the stress on your children during this holiday season.
- Be punctual.
Custody agreements and orders will have specific times and days at which the children are to be picked up and dropped off for visitation. Be on time and where you should be. If one parent is running late to pick up or drop off, that parent should immediately notify the other parent. If you are that other parent, you should consider being reasonably accommodating and not refuse visitation or threaten to file for contempt just because the other parent is running a few minutes late. There may be a legitimate explanation for the delay. You may find yourself in the same predicament down the road. Also, denying visitation because of the other parent is running late ends up punishing the children. You’ll have time after the holidays to address any violations of a court order or parenting agreement.
- Don’t poke the bear.
Don’t create or contribute to a situation that has a significant likelihood to lead to an argument and confrontation between you and the other parent. An example would be where you arrange for your “significant other” (SO) to show up at the exchange of the children with the other parent, knowing of the animosity the other parent holds for your SO.
- Keep the children out of the conflict between parents.
No exception. Particularly during the holiday. No discussions with the children’s mom’s significant other (SO), dad’s SO, any money or financial issues and who is “right” and who is “wrong.” Avoid those subjects over which you and the other spouse are in contention. There will be enough time to address your concerns with your attorney about all of this after the holidays.
Offit Kurman’s family law attorneys have the legal proficiency, capability and resources to meet your family law needs. If you have any questions about what our firm can do for you, please call Offit Kurman to set up a consultation with one of our family law attorneys.
ABOUT ELIZABETH HODGES
Beth Hodges’ practice is devoted exclusively to family law. Ms. Hodges’ cases involve the litigation, negotiation, and settlement of simple as well as complex financial and non-financial issues and disputes.
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